“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” These were a few of the inspirational words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his Loving Your Enemy sermon in 1957. These same words were delineated on one of the many buildings at Aptitud Community Academy at Goss during MLK Day of Service. In City Year we believe in the beauty of selfless service to others and the impact that service can have on a community. We believe that MLK Day is more than just a holiday from work. It is a chance to embody the dream envisioned by Dr. King and so many others before us. It is a chance to inject love and inspiration into a community. It is a chance to make the improbable possible.
These ideas were the central focus when over three-hundred and fifty volunteers and AmeriCorps members rolled into Aptitud on January 16th, 2017. With pep in our step and love in our hearts we helped to transform this school in six short hours, adding color and breathing life into this learning environment. We built ten picnic tables, eight mural back benches, four basketball backboards, thirty-six inspirational murals, and refreshed a garden to boot. Individuals from all around the Bay Area and all walks of life volunteered their support in this endeavor. I had the pleasure of working with and leading many of these volunteers in our garden project. I was amazed to actually meet people who lived in my home state of West Virginia. It made me realize just how small our world is. It made me realize that selfless service to others is not defined by what community one identifies with or where one grew up. It is defined by what one is willing to give. It is defined by one’s capacity for love and compassion.
When the day was done we were exhausted. Everyone was covered in paint, wood staining, dirt, and no small amount of sweat. Altogether, we gave over twenty-eight hundred hours of service and the results spoke for themselves. The school had undergone a miraculous transformation. It was an experience I was proud to be a part of and one that I hope will have a positive impact on the current and future students of Aptitud. I will end this blog in the same way I began it, with a message from Dr. King; “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King
Check out more pictures from our event on our Flickr page!