Written by Lindsay Hall, AmeriCorps Member proudly serving on the Albemarle Foundation team at Merrydale Elementary School. 

Most days AmeriCorps members serving with City Year Baton Rouge are able to give our time, talents, and compassion to our students during school hours. In that way, we are able to contribute to the construction of the beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned. The beloved community of King’s imagining refused to tolerate discrimination, violence, and deprivation. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a reminder that while much has changed since his iconic I Have a Dream Speech in 1963, there is still plenty for us to do. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day CYBR took to the streets to beautify Baton Rouge with individuals and organizations that are also giving of themselves.  In the process, we learned about why they serve and what they are doing to build our part of the beloved community. 

 “I teach history at the lab school and this is the laboratory I created. We’ve been in existence for four years. We do two community service events and a church service once a month and we’ve been doing this, as I said, for four years. The reason why we do this is and we come out is because we would like to support our community. We also like to instill into the kids that it is better to give then to receive.  To let them see how it feels to help someone, or help the community and by helping the community it makes them better citizens, better students, and gives them a good feeling for themselves and what life should be like instead of being self-centered.”

Gaile White, Southern University Laboratory Club

“I worked with BR Walls to help transfer an existing design to the wall. I love working with them because they brought a lot of local artists and redevelopment to Mid City and I live in Mid City, so I love seeing this in my community. Public art is something I’m really big on, and I’m glad that they let me use some of my lettering skills. It’s important to give back to the community and especially the community you live in. I went to college here and I call Baton Rouge my home.”

Spencer Bagert, Mid-City Resident and Artist 

 “I am a part of the Louisiana Delta Service Corps, which is a part of AmeriCorps and is put in place to serve the community and to help bring awareness to community service and outreach. It’s very important because Dr. King had a dream for everyone to come together to create change and to be that change we want to see in the world. For me, I’m out here with kids that I work with in the AmeriCorps program. It’s good to see them and other AmeriCorps members and other generations connecting together for a great cause, to rebuild the community and make it more beautiful.”

Jonas Augustine, AmeriCorps

“When I first started working here it was this ugly dark green color. It looked like a scary mental hospital, but we do so much to help. This is really going to show that by saying, ‘Okay, please come in, don’t be afraid to come in, we’re here to help.’ It’s not a scary city block, especially with some of the other places like Big Buddy, which is there painting a big mural. It helps it look like it’s new. We’re not abandoned. And I think people just like to paint, to show they helped do something like this.”

Jessica Millien, Christian Outreach Center

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