Federal offices and plenty of businesses will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But to national service organizations like AmeriCorps, it’s widely known as “a day on, not a day off.”
That extends to Civic Works, the education, skills development and community service nonprofit based in Baltimore’s Coldstream Homestead Montebello neighborhood. With community members from local businesses and neighborhoods working alongside dozens of Americorps members serving (including many who work at Civic Works), the nonprofit will be organizing volunteer events at eight sites around the city on Monday. Civic Works is expecting more than 250 volunteers.
Jayna Powell, Civic Works’ director of volunteerism and events, said the acts of service reflects Dr. King’s message. Literally: Along with the instructions for different tasks, Civic Works will be reading out quotes from Dr. King.
“Everything he said was all about our responsibility, as citizens of this world, to do what we can to make a difference,” Powell said. “It just makes sense … to celebrate who he was and continue to hear his prophetic voice. It’s an important thing to continue to remember him, what he stood for and what he called for.”
The volunteers will be working at a mix of sites that are run by Civic Works and other nonprofits, and include both outdoor and indoor activities. Powell said it was especially important to have the latter, given the often-frigid January temperatures that often accompany MLK Day, and are expected to again this year. There’s plenty of planning ahead, as Powell said Civic Works starts signing up volunteers in November. (Registration is currently closed.)
The volunteers will also be helping to make progress for local organizations. With the large number of volunteers, there’s a chance to do the kinds of projects that nonprofits don’t typically have time to do, or make progress on a bigger scale.
At Real Food Farm locations in Clifton and Perlman Place, for instance, they will be gutting an entrance to one farm, creating mulch paths and helping to make way for a mushroom farm. In the Coldstream Homestead Montebello’s Community Lot and in Johnston Square, they’ll be establishing community gardens alongside neighbors. At the Maryland Book Bank, and building materials reuse centers Second Chance and The Loading Dock, they will be organizing donations. At Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School, they’ll be organizing a supply room.
“When those kinds of things happen, it gives a boost to teachers when they come in the next day. It lets them know people believe in their mission and want to be a part of it,” Powell said of the latter.
Psst, if you’re a business leader as well as the last-minute-planning type, or just want to get started for next year: Read Generocity’s comprehensive guide to choosing an impactful MLK Day volunteer experience and consider its 12 tips to pick a worthwhile event for both your employees and the partnering organization.
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