Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day of Service offers an important opportunity for RISE AmeriCorps Members to reflect on civil rights movements of the past and look forward to service opportunities in their own communities. Through several upcoming events on Monday, January 17 , members and their host sites are joining the community to celebrate service together.
At the RISE Host Site Hoover Community School, the team is both volunteering in the community and hosting their own event. In the morning, members are attending a speaker series on the importance of service at Mt. Mercy University. Later, they will volunteer with Olivet Neighborhood Mission, a non-profit organization serving the Cedar Rapids neighborhood with basic needs. RISE Members will be lending a hand with sorting and preparing food boxes, as well as other direct services as needed.
From 12 - 2p.m., RISE AmeriCorps Members with Hoover are hosting a resource and clothing drive in the Hoover Community School gym. Both families at the school and others in the surrounding community are invited to learn more about and sign-up for resources such as clothing donations, job coaching and workforce readiness training.
“[The event] is going to be very impactful no matter what because it’s going to provide an opportunity for engagement, expanding learning opportunities beyond the school hours,” Community School Coordinator Lemi Tilahun said.
Since Hoover students don’t attend school on MLK Day, Tilahun said 50-80 children may be without food for lunch. The event is therefore providing a hot lunch until supplies run out.
RISE AmeriCorps Members Elsa Barroso Ramirez, Tania Ekutshu, Nafissatou Lamidi and David Niyogushima have been involved with every step of planning for the MLK Day event, Tilahun said. They were responsible for recruiting the volunteers and will ensure the logistics run smoothly on the day of the event.
RISE Host Site Community Youth Concepts in Des Moines is hosting both in-person and virtual events to engage the public. From 10-11 a.m. on Zoom, guest speaker Jane Jackson will speak on the importance of service and lead activities to spread kindness. From 1-3 p.m. at King Elementary School, the community is invited to participate in a wide range of service projects for all ages.
Jane Jackson’s session will reflect on her lifelong dedication to service, including as an activist in the civil rights movement alongside people like Dr. King himself. After her talk, Jane will guide participants to create and distribute You Matter Cards and Smile Cards. Both options help spread joy and kindness.
The in-person event will feature tables from community partners with hands-on, kid-friendly service opportunities.
RISE AmeriCorps Member Sul Ciang and program staff have been meeting weekly with groups of high schoolers as part of CYC’s commitment to youth outreach. Together, Sul helped students identify and plan their projects. She’ll also be assisting students to run their tables smoothly.
Students involved with CYC’s programming at North High School, East High School and Hoover High School will guide projects such as creating friendship bracelets and friendship rocks to spread random acts of kindness. Other students are hosting tables to create self-care kits and to design bookmarks to donate to the reading non-profit Everybody Wins! Iowa.
“Students will really take the lead and facilitate the projects at the event at their tables,” CYC Program Coordinator Amber Miller said.
Overall, RISE AmeriCorps Members are exemplifying the meaning of service on MLK Day with their participation in community events. To RSVP for CYC’s two events, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website here: http://cyconcepts.org/martin-luther-king-jr-day/. No RSVP is needed for Hoover’s event at 4141 Johnson Ave NW, Cedar Rapids, but you can call 319-558-2369 with questions.