Showing Gratitude For My Life Through Community Service

  When the Tennessee Titans drafted my fiancé Coty Sensabaugh in 2012, I quickly moved from Clemson, South Carolina and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. Needless to say, moving to a city with no friends, no family and no support system was very difficult. Not to mention the stress of the job search and desire to build my career while discovering my own identity. I was a young, ambitious college graduate, who during interviews with recruiters and potential employers, hid my reasons for relocating to Nashville because of the backlash and perplexed notions they expressed as to why I, a spouse of an NFL player, wanted to work.

I was depressed. However, my resilient spirit and creative nature lead me to doing the thing I loved the most: volunteering. Throughout my high school and college careers, I was always active within my community planning and hosting philanthropic events. Ironically, one of my childhood wishes was “Lord allow me to help those in need,” and almost 20 years later God has truly answered my prayer.

At first, I hid behind my fiancé's identity and organized his charity events. However, last year during the holiday season as I approached my monumental 25th birthday, I wanted to celebrate in a unique and meaningful way, so I launched the “Happy Birthday Dominique” community service project, #25Wishesfor25Years. This was my method of uplifting the many non-profit organizations and outreach agencies empowering my community. This project granted me the opportunity to show extreme gratitude for my life through community service.

My fiancé used his influence and financial resources to ensure the success of this initiative. For 25 consecutive days leading up to my 25th birthday, we hosted a series of events designed to positively impact individuals with a broad spectrum of needs. We fed over 250 impoverished families a Thanksgiving meal, we hosted a series of holiday hope dinners for the Nashville homeless community, we provided gifts for women who were victims of human trafficking, and we hosted a winter wonderland carnival for a local children’s hospital. After each event, we were overwhelmed with humility and thankfulness that God had blessed us with such an awesome opportunity to serve.

Needless to say, I am continuing the Happy Birthday Dominique community service project because this initiative reconnected me with my purpose in life. It also adds excitement to aging because each year that I grow older, Coty and I are able to increase the number of organizations and individuals we positively impact in our community.

This holiday season, I encourage you to find someone or something to give back to. Contact your church, a local or national non-profit, a community outreach agency and find opportunities to serve those in need. Providing your time, monetary resources, or emotional support to these who need you will provide unspeakable joy.