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Volunteering has a role to play in helping rid society of racism

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 03, 2020

CLEVELAND — As millions of Americans work to flip the script and rid our nation of racism, one local organization is doing the same.

HandsOn Northeast Ohio is changing up how it uses volunteer work in an effort to spark positive change. Bringing people from different backgrounds together, that's the power of volunteerism.

“You don’t always know who’s going to be there. Everybody comes from different walks of life. You don't know what they're going through and they don't know what you're going through," said Nathan Keith, trained volunteer leader.

In light of recent events regarding race relations in this country, HandsOn Northeast Ohio is expanding the definition of service beyond manual labor.

HandsOn is encouraging community members to donate their voice or support those causes and organizations that work on racial injustice and equality.

“Change our community one person at a time. It allows people to become part of a community that is greater than just the individual,” said Stephen Williger.

HandsOn Executive Director Stephen Williger said these are the moments in history that volunteering has prepared us for.

“It brings so many people together for a common good. Gives us a bigger picture of the what’s happening in our wider world and how we can come together as a community,” said Williger.

That happens Williger said by talking.

“Whether they’re easy conversations or difficult conversations," Williger said.

And it is in those moments where empathy between strangers can emerge.

“We’re lacking in empathy in this society at this point. See the world through the eyes of new individuals,” said Williger.

Keith believes volunteer work can get people out of their comfort zones, break down barriers and get us a little closer to where we need to be.

“Simple things like that that can help change people’s view of different people in this country," Keith said.