by Amanda Hoffman
On Saturday, January 19th, over 350 slightly soggy volunteers came out to Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School to brave the rain and celebrate MLK Day by giving back to their community.
Upon arriving at nine o’clock, volunteers were greeted with hot coffee and baked goods in the school’s auditorium, where a presentation was given about Dr. King’s message of service and the mission of HandsOn Broward, a message which can be summed up in the words of Dr. King: “everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”
The great revolutionary’s words rang true on Saturday, as the MLK Day events at Martin Luther King, Jr. truly proved that anybody, no matter what age, can serve. Rooms around the campus were designated for various service opportunities including coloring and packing boxes of meals for the homeless, donating blood, building a butterfly garden and making peace bracelets. No special skills were required; no specific prerequisites were necessary; volunteers only needed to share a desire to give back to their community.
Volunteers from all walks of life took part in volunteering on Saturday. Dressed in a rain poncho and shoveling away for the new butterfly garden, Christina Escobar from the Young Professionals Group of First Baptist Church decided to come out so that she could “bless the community and hopefully be an example.”
Although it was Escobar’s first time volunteering with HandsOn Broward, she has volunteered with handicapped children in the past. Resting on her shovel, Escobar shared her advice for new volunteers: “Learn to serve others and don’t expect anything in return.”
Another volunteer, Ebony Orr, volunteers for a living as part of her job with a community organization. Her favorite part of the day was packing meal boxes for the homeless.
Orr wasn’t just volunteering for her health, though: she truly believes that it is our duty as human beings to help one another. “We’re all connected and we have a responsibility to support each other.”
Percival Sams, a five-year volunteer who prefers working with ecology volunteer projects, signed up for volunteering on MLK Day because he believes, “you have to give something back to your community.”
Other volunteers in attendance included the principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School and several teachers at the elementary school, including history teacher, Juliet Williams.
“I saw quite a few teachers and staff members here today, but far more community members,” says Williams. “It is so important that we give back to the community; that we give encouragement to those who need it.”
Williams personally finds herself drawn to volunteering because, “we need to take the time out and help others. Also, by volunteering, I can be a role model.”
MLK Day this year fell on the same day as the second inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States. As President Obama is sworn in, one cannot help but think this is the kind of progress that Dr. King worked tirelessly to bring about. This is the change he spoke of. His dream has now become a reality, and by serving our community on MLK Day every year, we are preserving his vision.
As HandsOn Broward reviews the work we’ve achieved in 2012, including helping over 12,000 volunteers find places in their community and supporting over 129 non-profit organizations, we really do owe all our progress to our tireless volunteers. While some may have taken one look at the rain outside on Saturday and rolled over, you saw the rain as a challenge and showed up anyway. While some may view the problems in their community as insurmountable obstacles, you see them as mere hurdles and work diligently to fix them. We owe it all to you.