For many people, commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is best done by serving the community on the national holiday honoring his birthday. This year City Year Detroit, United Way of Southeastern Michigan and The Guidance Center teamed up to provide approximately 1,200 volunteers the opportunity to serve their community.
Activities ranged from organizing craft kits for Art and Scraps to getting Head Start classrooms cleaned and organized at the Aquinas Center in Southgate. Charee Walker and her daughter Halle found the projects at Phoenix Academy in Detroit to be a great way to give back to their community.
“We already do service work through our church, this is just taking that service outside of the four walls of the church and into the community,” said Walker.
While some people were painting murals with inspirational quotes to brighten the halls of the Academy, others were cleaning out the locker rooms of the school. Many of the students from the neighborhood come from homes without reliable running water, so having a clean area for the students to address their hygiene needs before school is critical. Volunteers even helped clean the commercial laundry room at the school so that teachers can make sure students have clean clothes.
Jonathan So and a team of fellow co-workers from the Detroit Regional Chamber were participating in that cleanup. It is a new initiative by the chamber to help employees learn more about each other and how to work better with each other while serving the community. So says the effort has created good dialog in the office but has also meant a great deal to him personally.
“So often we feel down in the minutia of day-to-day life that when you get out and do something good, you feel not only that you’ve done a good job but you also feel energized,” he commented.
For Ciera Clark, deciding to volunteer was not a difficult decision. She summarized her decision to volunteer and the spirit of the day by saying, “Simply, it’s how the organizers are saying this is a day on, not a day off.”