By Lindsey Sullivan, AmeriCorps Member serving at Northwest Elementary School.

For City Year and other AmeriCorps members across the state, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was a day on. We collected and packaged donated goods such as hats, gloves, socks and toothbrushes to be delivered to shelters in various cities around New Hampshire. Throughout the day we spent time reflecting on our service and its relation to the teachings of Dr. King.

How we spent our time yesterday deeply connected me with City Year’s number one value, Service To A Cause Greater Than Self. By participating in a service project directed toward addressing homelessness in our local community, we are acknowledging civic challenges through unified action. The first step to any kind of recovery, and thinking big picture, the healing of our nation, is to have awareness.

After our service project, we listened to many inspirational speakers during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day programming at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Reverend Dr. Arthur Hilson, this year’s guest speaker, stated that “this country is gonna need a heart transplant.” To me, this ties to another one of City Year’s values, Social Justice For All. This is what Dr. King peacefully advocated for and what we, as a service organization, a community and a nation, are still striving for. When I first came to City Year, the quote “youth is wasted on the young” was a constant reminder to take all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve acquired and put it to action now while I am young and able. Reverend Dr. Arthur Hilson left us all with a poignant question that I will carry throughout the rest of my service year, as well as into my future endeavors. He simply stated with the utmost confidence and conviction, “You can make a difference.” He followed with, “The question is…will you?”

Let us not only celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of every year, but instead let’s celebrate him every day by asking ourselves what we are doing for others.

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