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Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service: A Day On

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only national holiday that is also a national day of service. Across the country, hundreds of volunteers registered for service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and his value of Beloved Community – a community in which people of different backgrounds recognize their interconnectedness and how individual well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others. City Year also believes in this value and so MLK Day is seen as “a day on, not a day off.” In all 29 cities where City Year serves, staff and corps members plan and organize events to offer individuals across the country the opportunity to come together to volunteer in their communities and grow relationships. AmeriCorps Members are invited to participate in social justice conversations in addition to leading community volunteers in physical service and human service. It’s truly one of the best embodiments of Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision. For MLK Day this year, Team Care Force was able to support three separate service events as well as Project 351 the Saturday before.

Project 351- Boston

Leading up to MLK Day, we (Ben, Delaney, and Brittany) had the unique opportunity to support Project 351’s Launch Day. Project 351 is a non-profit organization that brings together one 8th grade ambassador from each of the 351 towns across the commonwealth to unite Massachusetts through youth service and leadership. Each year on the Saturday before MLK Day, Project 351 hosts a Launch Day in Boston to welcome and celebrate their new class of ambassadors. Our prep for this event was more office based than previous events; in the office we not only created documents for the various service projects, but we also organized and sorted items for kits. This sorting meant we had to make runs and pick up supplies from several local vendors.

Representatives from all 351 town across Massachusetts pose for a picture before completing a powerful day of service in the city of Boston.

On Launch Day, the three of us served as Area Coordinators at the Service Village, which took place at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, one of four total service locations for the day. The Service Village had a variety of projects including: fleece blankets for Annie’s Kindness Blankets, Meals of Hope soup kits for three different food banks in Massachusetts, hygiene kits for Hope & Comfort, MCAS (standardized test) kits for the Warren-Prescott K-8 School, and gratitude gifts for the adult volunteers who supported Launch Day. We had a lot of fun interacting with the ambassadors while they were making the various service kits. The ambassadors were very enthusiastic to help and were thrilled to see the impact they were making. It made us very happy to work with a group of volunteers this excited and engaged in service. Even after the event was over, we were not finished. The following Tuesday, we delivered many of the completed items to various organizations across the state. It was a fun experience to collaborate with Project 351 and support the Service Village, which impacted many lives across Massachusetts.

– Written by Delaney Pummill and Ben Carlin

Black drawstring bags with the words, Dream, Grow, Inspire on them. Also included are the items that fill these bags: a spiral notebook, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, candy, and mints.

 

San Jose

Mas and I (Nana Boateng) went to San Jose, California to provide support for their MLK Day of service. While we were still at HQ in Boston, we created event documents including the cut list, paint list, and Project Coordinator Guides (PCGs). We flew to San Jose on Monday, January 13th and began prepping the next day. Our prep consisted of cutting and kitting wood, priming plywood, and laying down pressure treated 4’ x 4’ sleepers. Our event was located at the San Antonio Elementary School, a City Year partner school, and we had about 270 volunteers in attendance. This group included corporate volunteers from a variety of companies, City Year AmeriCorps members and staff, and community members. Volunteers took part in a wide variety of projects from constructing benches and tables to landscaping to painting murals, including a large professionally designed wall mural facing the playground area. Mas assisted the guest muralist, Carlos Rodriguez, by helping with tracing, working with the project coordinators and paint captains, helping volunteers pour paint, and providing suggestions about color selection and layout. I served as an Area Coordinator (AC) managing eight Project Coordinators, who led mural projects, construction projects, and landscaping projects. I really liked being able to travel around the San Antonio campus and see the development of all the projects as the day progressed. My favorite project was the wall mural facing the playground; the girl in the mural was modeled after one of the students at the school. It was Mas’ favorite project as well; he enjoyed working with the muralist to help ensure the project ran smoothly. It was a unique opportunity to provide support to City Year San Jose, and we’re glad we connected with a lot of the AmeriCorps Members, many of whom were really interested in physical service work.

– Written by Mas Carty and Nana Boateng

Two individuals in yellow City Year jackets and one individual in a black jacket stand on scaffolding as they work on a large mural.

Two women in yellow jackets work on a construction project. Two volunteers on ladders smile for the camera while completing a painting project.

 

Milwaukee

Johanny Tejada and I (Molly Rogers) travelled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to support Olusegun “Olu” Osayemi, the only Milwaukee Civic Engagement Team Leader. Our service event was at the Lancaster Public School, where Olu had 60 projects planned for 400 volunteers. Before the event, Johanny and I did our best to support Olu with prep, and that began before we even arrived in Milwaukee. I prepared several documents for Olu including a cut list, a PowerPoint listing all the kid’s projects, and a mural book. The mural book is a PowerPoint presentation with all the murals that volunteers will paint on event day as well as the corresponding paint colors. While I was creating these documents, Johanny was prepping for a separate Care Force event in California. When she returned to the office, she supported us by reviewing all the documents that Olu and I had created. Once in Milwaukee, we spent the first few days filling all the project folders with Project Coordinator Guides (PCGs), mural images, and mural transparencies. Then we transported all the materials for the event to the Lancaster school. On the final prep day, all of City Year Milwaukee’s AmeriCorps members came together to sketch the murals and cut the wood.

Volunteers stand in a room with piles of lumber for a construction project. Mural of the Milwaukee skyline painted in blue and black.

 

 

 

 

On event day, I was assigned as the Area Coordinator (AC) of the kid’s projects: painting flowerpots and planting seeds, making friendship bracelets, and creating bookmarks. Johanny was the AC for the construction projects. Volunteers in her area built four backless benches, two mural back benches, and one rolling chalkboard. City Year Milwaukee alumni, sponsors, sororities, government officials, community members, and more came out to volunteer for the event. They worked throughout the school building painting murals and as they finished, they were sent to the cafeteria to help with a large skyline mural that wrapped around the entire cafeteria. It became the project that every volunteer played a role in completing. Throughout the day, AmeriCorps members would come to me for advice for different situations they were encountering; they valued my opinion and experience and that was a great feeling. My favorite project from the event was a mural that spelled out “unity” in sign language, and it was great to see the progress of the murals throughout the day. It was a different experience to work on an event with an entire City Year site. Additionally, this was also our first time serving as Area Coordinators, and Johanny’s first time leading a construction project.

– Written by Molly Rogers and Johanny Tejada

Washington, D.C.

For MLK Day, I (Brittany Blackerby) supported the Washington, D.C. Civic Engagement (CE) team. I served in D.C. last year in an elementary school, so I was excited for the opportunity to support their event. I didn’t fly in until Sunday, January 19th, but I offered support from Boston by editing their cut list for nine backless benches and offering construction schematics from the Care Force Center of Expertise database. I was assigned the role of Zone Leader (comparable to our Area Coordinator) at the JO Wilson Elementary School, and would oversee three project coordinators in leading the backless bench construction projects. When I arrived, Alaina Briceland-Betts, the Civic Engagement Manager, picked me up from the airport, and we went straight to Home Depot. There were a few materials that still needed to be purchased for event day, specifically for the benches, so I was happy to be along for the trip. After Home Depot, Alaina and I made a quick stop for dinner before heading to the City Year office to complete some final MLK Day prep. We edited the remaining Project Coordinator Guides (PCGs) and organized them in project packets along with a Run of Show (a streamlined schedule for event day), a one-pager about the service location, and either color copies of the mural or construction schematics, depending on the project. Project packets are important because this might be an AmeriCorps member’s only time leading volunteers through a project, and this offers them a timeline to use on event day and includes a list of materials that should be at their station. We finished the night by sketching encouraging messages onto canvases.

Volunteers stain backless benches on tarp covered floor. Volunteers stain a backless bench during MLK Day of Service.

 

 

 

 

On event day, I worked with my three project coordinators to oversee the progress of their volunteers and was available to troubleshoot problems as they arose, such as wood splitting or screws being stripped. We had a small but hardworking team of volunteers who built, sanded, and stained all nine benches. A few of the volunteers had construction experience, and that was helpful when dividing everyone into groups to work on each bench. One volunteer brought her son to the event; helping him use a drill was one of my favorite interactions of the entire service day. Overall, it was an extremely productive day with enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers and AmeriCorps members. The JO Wilson environment was a truly positive atmosphere for a day of service. It was an interesting trip because I traveled by myself but going to Washington, D.C. allowed me to reconnect with AmeriCorps members from last year. I even had time to visit some of my students from my first service year the next day.

– Written by Brittany Blackerby

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