What is Loving Service

Loving service is NHI's method for addressing inequities, and serves as our primary funding source.
“Loving service is giving without expecting anything in return. The ability to serve someone in need can be a gift in itself.”

Loving service is a term we have given to a communal ethic of trusting friendships that are the foundation for addressing injustices and moving toward a more equitable, caring society. Loving service is our way of describing the currency of Indian communities, where the titles, degrees, and one's financial wealth are not as important as one's willingness to help family and community members, one's desire to sacrifice their time and resources for the greater good. Loving service, then, is not something unique to NHI, but is a way of being that we have adopted from Indigenous communities. Honoring its roots, we understand loving service as a circular concept, not one that can be linearized into a definition. Whenever possible, we use Indigenous terms/concepts to explain its meaning, recognizing that “love” is not a term used in some Tribes. A'jooba and Nalyeeh- two Navajo words used to describe Loving service; the first means “to have mercy, no matter what” and the second means “to give back, what you owe.” Why do we choose loving service: 1) It is a return to an Indigenous currency, one where money is not central, but instead one's sincerity and goodness toward others is most valued. As one Pueblo elder said, “I see our young leaders today, and all they are after is money. They have forgotten that our relations with others is what is most important to us Indian people.” 2) It inspires a human-to-human element to our work, a communal ethic that minimizes the ego and maximizes all of the qualities we hope to amplify in our partnership (caring for one another, kindness, honesty, trust, ) 3) It builds on the strength of Indigenous communities, and helps to educate our volunteers, our partner organizations, and academic and governmental institutions about this aspect of these communities.

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