Last year, 62.6 million Americans volunteered through an organization. That's 25% of the population giving their time to help others. And that's no small chunk of time — 7.7 billion hours in all. What's more, that same year saw 138 million American informally volunteer in their communities. That's 62% of the population who watch a neighbors kids, helped someone with shopping, or mowed a neighbor's lawn. Those are indeed encouraging statistics! But, as with most things, there's room to grow.
One of the questions we get asked the most at Serve Moore is this: "How can I start something like this in my own hometown?" Let me boil the answer down to one, core idea: Volunteer for it. See, we never intended on starting an organization, we never intended on building this website, and we certainly never intended on doing this for going on 2 years! We simply wanted to volunteer to make life after a disaster a little easier on our neighbors. It just turns out that lots of other volunteers had the same idea so we did it together.
So by now you've gotta be wondering: "What do a Vermont dairy cooperative, an old '57 Chevy, and an accidental community service organization have in common?!" Well it's pretty simply actually. Our friends at Cabot Creamery in Vermont have long had a passion for volunteerism and in 2012, launched a program called Reward Volunteers to encourage people to better their communities by getting involved with local organizations. Since it began, volunteers have logged more than 200,000 hours in the program and won prizes for themselves and for the organizations they volunteered for!
Shortly after Serve Moore began, folks from Cabot Creamery encouraged us to keep up the good work. They shared resources with us (and by resources I do mean some AMAZING CHEESE which, coincidentally, you can buy right here in Oklahoma or online!), encouraged us to use Reward Volunteers, and then they had this crazy idea. They saw an old '57 Chevy at the home of one of our founding volunteers. It's a truck his granddad gave him and that, "Someday," he told himself, "I'll fix up and restore." The folks at Cabot thought out-loud, "What if we restored this old truck to give you something cool to ride around in while you answered that question you always get?! What if you encouraged others in your area to get involved in their communities by volunteering?!" (These quotes are totally paraphrases but reflect an accurate amount of awesomeness of the real conversations.)
So the project began. An old '57 Chevy was on it's way to becoming the new Serve Moore Truck and to launch the effort to encourage people to get out in their communities and make them a better place to live. Well, you should know that as soon as we started talking to local shops about doing some of that work, they couldn't wait to get on board. Loomis Automotive in OKC took on the total restoration of the truck and had it up and running after sitting for 10 years! They really are the best restoration shop in town. They brought in folks like Modern Wheel and Brake Alignment in OKC and O'Reilly's Auto Parts in OKC. And friends of ours joined in too! Topps Powder Coating in Moore, Flair Body Works in Moore, Malibu's Auto Accessories in Moore, and Dusty Gilpin from Tree + Leaf Clothing & Printshop in OKC — all these businesses have been incredible in their efforts to renew the truck and along the way help us launch this great project!
What does all this mean? It means that just like when Serve Moore got its start, we want to encourage you to volunteer in your community. All we did to start Serve Moore was to pick up a rake, put on a pair of gloves, and start picking up debris in lawns around town. We really just found a project & people that meant a lot to us and started working to help them where they needed it. Certainly, the story grew from there and lots of people ended up coming to #ServeMoore with us. But that just made the whole thing more fun!
Our goal over the next several months is to encourage you to #ServeEvenMore. Look around. Grab some friends. Do something to make someone's life a little better; something in your community a little cleaner or prettier. There are so many ways to volunteer in your community. If you're from Central Oklahoma, we know of some really great options! You might check out the Moore Food Resource Center or the Regional Food Bank. Or for a wider variety of volunteer needs, you can register at Volunteer Central Oklahoma — the United Way of Central Oklahoma's awesome volunteer hub! Not from around here? Check out Cabot's own Reward Volunteers platform where you can find non-profts from all over the country!
Here's the skinny. All you need to have to volunteer is the desire to help someone and the energy to get up and make it happen. You don't have to reinvent the wheel and you certainly don't have to start a movement. You just need to find something or someone you're passionate about and get busy working for good. Follow along as we spend the next several month encouraging volunteerism and helping you find ways to #ServeEvenMore!
Check out photos of the progression of the Serve Moore Truck at all those various shops and locations! Then see the debut in the Norman, OK '89er Day Parade on Saturday, April 18th!