I Was at Charlottesville--A Message from the CEO

I was in Charlottesville this past Saturday, promoting love, equality, opportunity, and inclusion.

I am still processing everything that I saw, heard, and felt (feel)—much of which I hope to never revisit. While I initially planned not to go due to intense fear, I decided that I must join my brothers and sisters in demonstrating a strong and united position that we would not stand for hatred.

I remember my anxiety during the drive down from DC to Charlottesville, and my prayers that the protests would remain peaceful. I remember my fear upon arrival as I waited in an open area for allies to come take us to the meeting site, wondering which “side” White passersby represented--my identity as a Black woman felt more vulnerable than ever during those minutes. I remember hearing White Supremacists’ chants echoing throughout the downtown area, as more people gathered for their rally throughout the course of the morning. I remember the crowds, the cries for help, the fights, the lock-downs, and the medics and supporters tending to injured participants. I remember the palpable taste of pepper spray that lingered in the air.

All of this was a result of White Supremacy. It has long existed throughout several facets of society, but reared its ugly head more blatantly this past weekend. I was appalled by how proudly people wore this hatred as badges of honor. They organized to intimidate, to inflict fear, and to hurt people. Saturday was a demonstration of the loathing, prejudice, and pain that is still all too prevalent; and it is a terrifying thing.

I don’t know if I will ever be the same after Saturday, and I don’t think that I should be. None of us should.
Service Never Sleeps will always be committed to promoting equality, opportunity, and inclusion for everyone; and we will unapologetically stand up against anything that compromises or challenges that objective. Our goal of shared humanity should unite us to mobilize in love--which also means speaking up against hatred.

Saturday's events will forever be seared into my brain and heart, but it includes beautiful examples of community and Allyship. I was encouraged by how so many individuals were willing to put their own bodies on the line, to stand up for shared humanity. Even my personal experience of being escorted down to Charlottesville by White allies—who stayed by my side the entire day—is testament to how strongly I believe that people WILL take a stand for good, even at the expense of their own safety. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who were injured, and to the loved ones of Heather Heyer, the brave woman who died from the act of terror that ensued.

So much of this experience was surreal, yet ever so demonstrative of our reality. Saturday was another example of just how much work we must commit to doing. Not only am I hopeful and more committed than ever, but I am convinced that I am not alone. Love MUST win.

In shared humanity,

Whitney Parnell
Co-Founder & CEO

We Build Allies

Service Never Sleeps (SNS) builds allies. When I awakened two years ago with the idea of a part-time year of service for young professionals, it was always rooted in social justice. The Fellowship program was a targeted way to empower our local nonprofits that already had solutions to pressing issues, with millennial professionals who were aching to serve. Meanwhile, the companies that sponsored them could both contribute to the community and invest in their employees’ continued development. The model was an innovative “triple-win” for multiple facets of the community. Our inaugural class’s graduation this January made clear that our Fellowship Program contributed to a larger SNS calling: A movement that we have coined “Allyship.”

"Allyship" is an active way of life that promotes bridge-building towards the common purpose of ensuring equality, opportunity, and inclusion for everyone. We have expanded our programming into a three-pronged model: (1) Our signature Fellowship Program facilitates millennial professionals engaging in meaningful service at the community level, building next-generation leaders in the Allyship movement; (2) Our Corporate Partnership Program allows companies to invest in social responsibility through skills-based service projects, demonstrating that Allyship can be incorporated through all sectors; (3) Lastly, our half-day Allyship Workshop, a new initiative launching this month, trains any engaged community members to be effective allies in their regular behaviors, and equips them to actively influence others.

SNS has a more laser-focused plan than ever before. Last week, we welcomed our newest class of Fellows, who are now embarking on their transformative year of service. Next weekend we will launch our first community Allyship Workshop, which will be the first of many public community and privately hosted training sessions. Help this vision reach its full potential by donating towards our new Allyship direction.

For months, the community has asked us to lead this effort to build bridges. We are now equipped to do just that through the presentation of this recently launched Allyship focus. Will you join us?

Yours in Allyship,

Whitney Parnell
CEO & Co-Founder

The Birds have Left the Nest

February 28th marked a huge milestone for Service Never Sleeps (SNS): Our inaugural class of Fellows graduated! Throughout the celebration of their completed service year, I was overwhelmed with a combined sentiment of pride and hope.

As I handed the Presidential Service Award to each Fellow this past Saturday, I reflected on what they had accomplished. Their service year required volunteering at least 10 hours monthly at their assigned nonprofits, participating in SNS’ monthly leadership sessions, and leading service efforts with their employers—all while still working full-time jobs.

We asked for quite a commitment from our Fellows, and I am so honored to have them as Ambassadors representing this organization. Through their dedication, they demonstrated that we all have the capacity to serve meaningfully. Through their spirits, they enforced my belief that there are wonderful people whose selfless intentions are to contribute to improving this world. Through their impact, they proved that just those two factors are enough to make a difference. My hope in positive change is kept alive through these Servant Leaders.

I often reflect on the most inspiring moments of this SNS journey, and examples of the Fellows’ impact continue to rank highest on the (long) list. I have watched them grow into change-agents. These alumni have left the nest as participants, and now join me as teammates as we continue to promote social justice on a macro-scale.  I couldn’t be more honored to serve with this fantastic crew in the journey ahead.

Yours in service,
Whitney Parnell
CEO & Co-Founder