On Monday, January 19th, we celebrated the life and legacy of one of the most prominent role models of this country-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to being the leader in the fight against racial inequality, Dr. King is also a preeminent figure in the fight for social and economic equality. On MLK Day, communities across the nation came together in a day of service to continue Dr. King's dream of a just society.
Our AmeriCorps VISTAs have each dedicated a year of service to fight poverty all across North Carolina. For the past few months, many of our members have been planning MLK Day of Service projects to mobilize students and community members for not only a day of service, but to use this day as a catalyst for a long term increase in community-engagement. This year, our VISTAs provided service opportunities for over 1300 volunteers who served for a combined 4600 hours.
At UNC Asheville, VISTA Jess-Mara Jordan serving with the Key Center, mobilized over 140 volunteers who worked at nine different service project sites From organizing donations at Habitat ReStore, making arts and crafts for children, to beautifying the streets in Downtown Asheville, the volunteers collectively served for approximately 900 hours. Jess-Mara also spoke of how it warmed her heart to see “everything and everyone, including our new Chancellor, come together for my second MLK Day of Service at UNC-Asheville. Last year was record-breaking and it felt great to see so many people invested in service but to see that the culture has not only remained, but is still growing has made every late night and every little detail worth it.” Read the UNCA News Feature.
|Volunteers at HPU|
VISTAs Kemi Ademuyo, Anna Mahathey, and Shannon Barr of High Point University‘s Campus Support Program’s Office coordinated an entire weekend of events. On Monday, January 19th, 679 volunteers decided to make it a day ON and volunteered at 20 different community sites in High Point, collectively serving over 2000 hours in a single day. Volunteers participated in a street clean up, packing essential items for the homeless, preparing and cleaning a community garden at the Macedonia Family Resource Center, painting and sprucing up various churches and spending time with senior residents at the Piedmont Christian Home. They also packed over 20,000 meals with Stop HungerNow and hosted a field day at the Hartley YMCA for the children. Our Executive Director Leslie Garvin stopped by to help out as well. The volunteers and their projects were also featured on the local news here.
VISTA Hannah Paek at East Carolina University's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center coordinated a Day of Service with the vision of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy of creating a “Beloved Community.” Over 240 volunteers led by student leaders participated in an opening ceremony which included a screening of the I Have a Dream speech, serving at 10 project sites and a closing ceremony which allowed the volunteers to share their visions and hopes of a “Beloved Community.” The volunteers were featured in this news segment.
|6th Annual Read-In at|
VISTAs Naijla Faizi and Natasha Vos with Wake Forest's Pro Humanitate Institute collaborated with Winston-Salem State University and Hand-On Northwest NC to host the 6th AnnualRead-In. Over 160 volunteers participated to work with 115 elementary school aged children. The children were encourage to read, learn the history of the civil rights movement and each were presented with three free books. Naijla worked with several on-campus and off-campus organizations to make the Read-In a success. She collaborated with the sororities at Wake Forest University who hosted a book-drive for the Read-In that collected enough books for not only this year, but also the next! Our own VISTA Leader Catherine Casteel dropped in to participate in the Read-In.
VISTA Kali Hackett at UNC Greensboro Office of Leadership and Service-Learning coordinated 9 projects with 70 volunteers throughout the city. In addition to mural painting at Youth Focus, street cleanup, baking goodies for hospice patients, some of the volunteers also participated in the Day of Service event hosted by the Greensboro Volunteer Center at the Four Seasons Mall. NC Campus Compact Program Coordinator Chad Fogleman also stopped by to participate in a service project with the volunteers.
|App State students|
VISTA, Brittany Johnson with the Hospitality House of Boone, led a team of 20 volunteers who cleaned, painted and did minor repairs at the Welcome Home Thriftique as part of the MLK Challenge. The volunteers also got a chance to visit the Hospitality House and learn about its services. Brittany shared that “My favorite thing about this day of service is that students choose to have a day on rather than take a day off for the sake of helping others. The students who volunteered at the Thriftique were so excited to dive into the work needed. Their teamwork and passion made a huge difference for our project. I was thrilled to be able to share our cause and purpose with them. These student volunteers accepted and completed the challenge, proving that anything is possible and how working together can create change.”
Our VISTAs continue Dr. King's legacy day in and day out, as they tirelessly work to build the capacities of their community organizations and universities for the growth of a more engaged and better-served society. They believe, as Dr. King did, that “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”