On Monday, January 18, 2016 an estimated 1,000 volunteers joined City Year Philadelphia’s largest annual service project.  In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dedication to service, City Year AmeriCorps members, staff , board members, community members and corporate supporters gathered to commence the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, sponsored by American Airlines, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, and T- Mobile .

Right: AmeriCorps Member Alesha focuses her entire day on this Sotomayor piece. Looks amazing!

This year’s community project took place at Mary McLeod Bethune School in North Philadelphia.  AmeriCorps Members and a multitude of volunteers created over one hundred murals, turning white walls into vibrant hallways.  From book themes to social justice, murals of Dr. Seuss and Rosa Parks, the walls transformed into permanent testaments of imagination and courage. 

Despite the busy, crowded hallways, volunteers and City Year alike jumped in wherever help was needed.  The day was long, and Power Corps and City Year Corps Members—and some volunteers!—stayed until the evening to see their work done.  The end result: a jovial, colorful, warm school.  What started as blank corridors blossomed into sensational displays of art.

Left:Starting to come together!  It takes a team to create these murals.

Chelise Junior, First Year AmeriCorps Member serving at Bethune, notes the positive impact the murals have upon the students.  An eighth grader remarked, “I’ve been here since Kindergarten, and to see something like this is amazing; it’s a whole new Bethune.”  Some of the popular murals are the paintings of athletes in the gym.  With students and faculty happy, the Bethune community now works and learns in a more enriched environment.

Philadelphia's 21st annual day of service came to an end; paint brushes down and water cups emptied.  Every brush stroke mattered, and will last in the murals for many more generations of students to admire and enjoy. Another day of City Year Philadelphia’s involvement in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day concluded, fulfilling Dr. King’s belief in serving the community. 

Right: The Bethune Kindergarteners sure are lucky; they have their whole floor dedicated to the whimsy of Dr. Seuss! 


Written by Shannon Fasanella, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member serving at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School
Video by Star Taylor, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member serving on the Civic Engagement Team


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