Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MLK Day of Service On

Following the MLK Day of Service and the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, I have a smile on my face recalling the events of the week. One thing that really resonates with me is the power of individuals to shape the communities he/she lives in. Rather than waiting on government to take action, it has been individuals who have heard the call of services and without any compensation offered his/her services to the community. To me, volunteers are the unsung heroes of this great nation we call home. On a day when one could have taken the day for leisurely activities, so many opted to use the skills he/she possesses to do various projects on MLK Day. There were many individuals who were instrumental to the success of the day, and to each and every person who had any part in the organizing the day, I say thank you for your selfless work. To the nearly 800 volunteers, who in the midst of the cold and other elements, choose to come out and make it a day on, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. This week really gives me hope that the spirit of community which has contributed to the success of this nation continues with today's generations. For all those who brought their children or younger members of organizations to MLK Day of Service, I really commend your efforts because it was seeing the children at the event which has given me the greatest hope that change for the greater good is indeed possible, and the spirit of giving back will live on with future generations.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MLK: The Value of Giving Time

First off, I’d like to say thank you to all the project coordinators, and task leaders. Without you, this day would not have been possible.
The MLK Day of Service in Athens, Georgia proved to be a time of community and commitment. As I visited the sites, I witnessed great volunteer participation, laughter and lots of hard work. I took many pictures and thus have an incredible library of the day. I wonder why people take the time out of their busy schedules to volunteer. I mean, Monday January, 19th was a day off of work for most. I believe people volunteered because of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. True, there were some there with other reasons for volunteering however, the overwhelming reason was to be involved in a cause greater than oneself. I hope that the 800+ volunteers who showed up on MLK day realize that Dr. King did not volunteer his time one day out of the year, rather he dedicated his life to volunteering. Like many of you, I am a very busy person who gets tired and just wants to relax on Saturday. However, I remember people like Dr. King and realize that he too was tired yet he continued to give of himself. If we really wish to continue his legacy, we must be willing to give of our time and talents even when we are tired and worn out. A community can only thrive when we are all willing to put in the time and effort to see it through.

The day of the project, at The Tree House in Winder, started out extremely cold. The delivered topsoil was even frozen! Jeff, my co-Hands On AmeriCorps member, and I decided, that once the work began everyone would warm up. We were expecting 13 volunteers but, to our surprise, 29 showed up! This was going to make the rock removal portion of the tasks, we had planned, go much better. We could work in shifts and rotate people around so the ‘shovel’ work would be spread (no pun intended) around. The volunteers included representatives of three Cub Scout Dens, two MBA students at UGA, a North Georgia Tech. college student, nine Boys and Girls Club of Winder middle school students and their adult leaders, an employee of The Tree House and her family, four members of the Barrow County CERT, and other individual, Barrow County residents. As the day progressed, the day grew slightly warmer and everyone was ‘warming’ (pun intended, this time) to their tasks. A reporter from The Barrow County News came, interviewed various people, and took photos. Lunch was provided, at a reduced rate, by Sonic. Even the topsoil and mulch were provided and delivered by Home Depot, at a reduced rate. At the close of the project, all that came and worked had a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about the work done. The Tree House Director and Jeff and I thanked everyone for their hard work and participation. Jeff and I reminded them to check the Hands On website for future projects. We collected all the tools, made sure the site was clean, and left, secure in the knowledge, that Hands On AmeriCorps and some great MLK volunteers had made a safer place to play, to just be kids, for children going through a terrible time in their life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We made it a DAY ON!

Thank you to the 700-800 volunteers
that came out on MLK Day to volunteer at 25 sites. The sites have expressed GREAT appreciation for all the work and progress made during the projects. We are humbled by the great turnout of volunteers year after year on what has become the largest single day of volunteer service in Athens! From the children that came out with their parents and friends to clean our schools, cemeteries, and parks and the seniors that provided support by assisting with check-in and lunch, to the many civic groups and businesses that came out in large numbers, many even adopting a site and providing the necessary skills and tools to complete the project, the Athens area definitely answered the call to serve on this MLK Day.

We encourage all volunteers to turn the day on into a on-going commitment to service and remind you that many of the agencies served on MLK Day have opportunities throughout the year.

To see some coverage about the MLK Day of Service, please visit Athens Banner Herald, Red & Black, and Spotted

Friday, January 2, 2009

Athens MLK Day projects listed

The Athens MLK Jr. Day of Service is set for January 19, 2009 with over 20 projects scheduled!  Volunteers can now visit to learn more about the day of service and sign-up for the project they would like to assist.  From the Athens MLK Day page, individuals can also find us on Facebook and YouTube, as well as, play on-line games.