While many members feel it's necessary to plan large and ongoing service projects to make a difference in their community, small projects can make an impact as well, said Sister Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president.
"We don't all have to do big service projects," she remarked. "It's the sum total of the small things we do that really makes a difference. I really do believe that."In commemoration of the Relief Society organization's 149th birthday anniversary March 17, the general presidency, board and staff have planned their own community service project to celebrate the birthday observance. They plan to clean a local community center.
"We chose to celebrate our sisterhood this way because charity is the purpose of Relief Society," Sister Jack emphasized. "Our project is in keeping with the roots of our organization. I hope local Relief Society units worldwide will look for ways to celebrate their sisterhood through service."
Members of the Relief Society general presidency and board did some preliminary cleaning at the center's recreation room they plan to clean to assess the situation. They spent time cleaning chairs, windows, walls and play equipment and plan to do some more cleaning, add some wall hangings and bring in some new toys and games when they return on March 23.
The Relief Society general presidency is inviting sisters in every local unit of the Church to focus on service in the community as part of the Relief Society sesquicentennial celebration, which culminates in 1992.
Sister Jack advised units to consider the following steps in choosing and completing service projects:
First, sisters should put family priorities before everything else. "We should serve at home first," Sister Jack counseled.
"Our families are always our first priority. Sometimes individual or family circumstances do not allow a woman to spend much time serving in the community. Each of us should serve as we can, become aware of what's going on in our communities and strive to make our homes and communities better places to live."
Second, choose a project with a definite beginning and end. "As we join in service, we should maximize our time and energy by choosing specific projects," Sister Jack explained. "Visit the location first, determine what equipment you'll need and decide how best to assign the sisters who come. Be sure you've carefully designed the project so you can complete it within the allotted time."
Third, choose projects close to home. "You may look to local community service organizations in choosing a project," Sister Jack advised. "Every community has established service organizations that are in need of volunteers. Look close to home. We can benefit our communities by joining our efforts with quality local organizations. We can also learn more about them while they become acquainted with us and with the teachings of the Church."
Fourth, remember that small service projects can be meaningful. "When we suggest that women serve, we are asking them to look beyond themselves, to choose reasonable ways to serve and to reach out to others in their local communities. This can often be done in small amounts of time."
Fifth, enjoy working together. "Being with my Relief Society sisters is fun for me. We are all busy women, so this chance to be together is well worth the time and effort. It's all the better when we are doing something meaningful that brings out the best in all of us."
In their recent travels to the South Pacific, Sister Jack and Carol Clark, administrative assistant and Relief Society general board member, said they met sisters who had similar goals and purposes, contributing to the well-being of families and communities.
"We found many, many groups that were coordinating activities to make better communities," Sister Jack related. "They were happy to be aware of who we were and feel a sense of our goals and find commonalities.
"Serving together adds a dimension to relationships that nothing else does," she concluded.