A Day On, Not A Day Off: AMERICORPS ALUMS Chapters Serve on MLK, Jr. Day
“A day on, not a day off!” It’s the refrain that has become commonplace around MLK, Jr. Day, and it’s one that countless AmeriCorps Alums have acted on year after year, including last week’s 2014 celebration of MLK, Jr. Day. Across the nation, AMERICORPS ALUMS’ chapters honored the holiday by making it a day of service in their community.
North Texas Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
Collaborating on five different MLK, Jr. Day activities and projects, the North Texas chapter made a big impact in the Dallas metro area region. Efforts included marching in the City of Dallas’ MLK, Jr. Day parade, reorganizing and painting a Project Transformation Library, and making final preparations to make a Habitat For Humanity home move-in ready.
Memorable moment of the day: While waiting for the city parade to begin, a young woman came up to the float organizer and introduced herself. Her name was Amber Givens and she is an AmeriCorps Alum who was participating in the parade to promote her running in the election for county judge. Amber served in AmeriCorps*NCCC.
For a full recap of North Texas MLK, Jr. Day events, please click here.
Los Angeles Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
On January 20th, the L.A. Chapter joined over 1,000 volunteers to transform Hillcrest Drive Elementary School at L.A. Works’ annual MLK Jr. Day of Service. The start of the day was filled with energy from a zumba warm-up and hot coffee to brightly colored balloons and enthusiastic Project Leaders who guided the volunteers to their work stations. Within the course of a few hours, the L.A. Chapter painted a variety of walls, stairwells, poles, benches and fences changing the entire look of the campus. Projects around the campus were aimed at enhancing the learning environment for the children so they could be proud and feel comfortable at the school they called home. Alongside the L.A. Chaper, community and corporate volunteers were also building and painting picnic tables, building garden beds, and painting murals. By the end of the day, the campus was transformed and the chapter had a lot of fun doing it as a team!
One fun thing your chapter learned about your city during the service day: The power of community. It was absolutely incredible to see what 1,000 volunteers from all walks of life, of all ages, of all backgrounds, and of all incomes, coming together to volunteer side-by-side looked like. It’s such a cliche thing to say, but that day really spoke true to what a few hours can do with dedicated people to transform and enhance what we see as just a small part of our city. But it is really a large part of the lives of the students, families and teachers from Hillcrest Elementary and the surrounding neighborhood. Volunteers got really inspired by the day and were ready to continue serving in their communities beyond just the MLK, Jr. Day of Service.
One organization your chapter discovered and wants to learn more about: Playworks Southern California. Our chapter volunteer with them before, and they always support the chapter and their members are AWESOME!
San Diego Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
AmeriCorps Alums and current members from around San Diego County showed up bright and early in the Barrio Logan district to help celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Alums and current members provided support to the event by helping set up tables and place settings, serve food and drinks, organize parking for the more than 700 guests, welcome participants, and clean up afterward. Overall, this was a fun event and a wonderful opportunity for AmeriCorps members to show community involvement and support a commemorative event recognizing an incredible national leader.
One thing your chapter learned about your city during the service day: Our chapter learned more about the real and local immigration and deportation issues which organizations and programs in our city are working to reduce.
One organization your chapter discovered and wants to learn more about: Alliance San Diego, the lead organization that hosted this sold-out event, is an organization that our chapter was not familiar with before this event and would like to learn more about. According to their website, they are “the community empowerment organization that builds coalitions to promote justice and social change.” This is an important role in the community and an ideal partnership for an MLK Service Day project. Alliance entrusted our group to execute key aspects of the agenda, which traditionally have not been handled by their volunteer base. It was important to keep true to the AmeriCorps name and just “Get Things Done”. Our success was their success and will play a positive role in helping to shape next year’s event.
Connecticut Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
Throughout the 2014 MLK, Jr. Day weekend, hundreds of Connecticut AmeriCorps Alums and current AmeriCorps members engaged in four different service projects throughout the state of Connecticut, including projects with Public Allies, Feeding Children Everywhere, the University of Bridgeport, St. Stephen’s Food Pantry, and New Opportunities, Inc.
One of those projects even garnered the participation of Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4th District). Over 25 current members and AmeriCorps alumni served with a group of 100 community members and Congressman Jim Himes putting together meals with the organization Feeding Children Everywhere. In less than three hours, volunteer teams raced to put together 12,000 meals of healthy lentil soup to be delivered to local food kitchens for distribution throughout the community.
Memorable Moment of the Day: Jennifer Turner a four-term VISTA Alum organized a service project with The University of Bridgeport (CT), and engaged over 500 volunteers spreading out to serve their community. Talk about “Getting Things Done.”
One organization your chapter discovered and wants to learn more about: The “Good Neighbor Program.” This program partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where I (Tina Lindstrom) work! I had never heard of this program and am really excited to collaborate with them to help our Veterans.
Houston Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
In Houston, over 300 volunteers were able to move 156,000 pounds of litter, tires, and other illegally dumped construction materials. The Houston Chapter served part of the Collaborating for Safe Places Clean-up Initiative in the South Acres/Selinski Community in preparation for a community garden, and to learn about the principals of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for a clean and safe community. They partnered with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, Houston Department of Neighborhoods, Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering, The Student Conservation Association, Keep Houston Beautiful, STRYVE Partnership for Youth Violence Prevention, and Project Grad Houston.
One fun thing your chapter learned about your city during the service day: Houston has a long tradition of parades on MLK Day, but we also learned that in addition to cars and floats you can find people on horseback and in wagons on a trail ride. Way to perpetuate the idea that all Texans ride horses to work, huh?
Memorable quote of the day: I enjoyed volunteering with the MLK Day of Service “Collaborating for Safer Places” because of the impact it has on the community. I could be at home sleeping or studying, instead I am here honoring the legacy of Dr. King by creating a stronger community.
-Mirna Calderon, AmeriCorps VISTA Alum and nursing major in Houston