“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
That was certainly the theme as HandsOn Broward, an affiliate of the national HandsOn Network, hosted a series of events for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service. From Friday, January 13th, through Wednesday, January 18th, HandsOn Broward hosted 13 projects in honor of Dr. King that ranged from sorting food for the local food banks with Feeding South Florida to an MLK Day Peace March from MLK Elementary School to Dillard High School.
Saturday, January 14th, was our Signature Day of Service at MLK Elementary where we had 6 different beautification projects happening in unison, as well as a special edition of our Kids Care Club. With 222 total volunteers that day, HandsOn Broward helped to clean-up and plant new plants in the front walkway, parent drop-off area and central courtyard; and fix up and paint murals around the school. Our Kids Care Club had multiple activities onsite and made over 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to be donated to the homeless.
On Sunday, we hosted an America’s Sunday Supper at the Boys and Girls Club in North Lauderdale. With over 94 participants, we screened the movie “Taking Root”, a dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy. Following the film, we held a discussion with community members and a panel of leaders including: Karriem Edwards from the Boys and Girls Club, Evan Goldman from the Children’s Services Council and youth motivational speaker Terran Vandiver from HANDY, Inc.
Of the event, Terran said: “This was definitely a motivational and inspiring way to start off the year. What matters the most to me is the effort that our community makes as a whole, in order to present the children with something that is productive, thought-provoking, and relevant to black history. Recognizing the fear and self-doubt to be a preventable and curable disease to the mind is the main endeavor that our leaders in the civil rights movement were involved in. And in 2012, this is a mission we must continue fighting for.“
On Monday, HandsOn Broward volunteers put on their marching boots and took part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Peace March from MLK Elementary School to Dillard High School. The parade ended with over 2,000 people gathering for a peace rally at Dillard High’s football stadium. At the rally, volunteers participated in a resource fair and helped to run the event. HandsOn Broward also announced the winners of our MLK Day Essay Contest. One student from each of the four divisions (based on grade level in school) was chosen out of numerous submissions. Congratulations go out to the students who won, and a big thank you goes to all of the students who participated. We had many amazing entries and the choice was not easy!
To wrap up our MLK Week of Events, we took our AmeriCorps team to Broward College South Campus and hosted a second Sunday Supper event where we screened Taking Root and the students participated in an activity to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to be donated to the local food banks. Over 500 sandwiches were made by over 50 students who participated.
Overall, the 2012 HandsOn Broward MLK Day program engaged more than 3,000 volunteers in service. Youth, senior, military, corporate and family volunteers alike turned out to work side by side and honor the dream of Dr. King. I am proud to have taken part in such an amazing day of service to positively affect change in my community.
-Chelsea Wilder, HandsOn Broward AmeriCorps VISTA member