Thursday, January 17, 2013

NeighborWorks Prepares for MLK Day of Service

By Nikki Perez
NeighborWorks America VISTA leader
The NeighborWorks VISTA Program was established in 2009 to increase the capacity of local NeighborWorks organizations by adding full-time VISTA members in critical areas, such community stabilization, resident engagement and others. The program helps organizations facing increased demand caused by the foreclosure crisis and reduced resources due to the recession. The program also helps attract and retain new and diverse talent to the community development field while providing meaningful service opportunities for those who wish to support their country and their communities.

On January 21, 2013 millions of people around the nation will come together in volunteer efforts in honor of The MLK National Day of Service, making it "a day on, not a day off." In support of this national call to serve, the NeighborWorks VISTA Program has encouraged VISTA members and NeighborWorks organizations to assist their communities through acts of service. This year, some planned Martin Luther King (MLK) day activities include:

Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation 
Ventura, California

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C.
Creative Commons photo by The Uprooted Photographer
VISTA member Victor Espinosa will facilitate a community dialogue on the meaning of Martin Luther King’s words and actions. The discussion will include topics such as race, equality and social justice in Ventura County. Rather than viewing Dr. King’s legacy of racial, social, and economic justice as a historical victory, this event seeks to connect his legacy to an ongoing social justice struggle, recover critical, yet less-examined facets of King’s words, and connect them to current local social justice movements. Additional event details on the Presidential Inauguration Committee's National Day of Service website.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Richland County 
Richland Center, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Ph.D. candidate, Simon Balto will give a free civil rights talk. VISTA member Robert Johnson will provide the introduction to the lecture and include some information about the earned income tax credit. This discussion will be advertised in the community with all encouraged to attend.

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven 
New Haven, Connecticut

On Saturday, VISTA members at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven will be sanding the living room floor of a former Visiting Nurses Association nurse who due to a stroke, has physical limitations and cannot go up stairs and uses the living room for her bedroom.

On Sunday, VISTA member, Joey Rosenberg of Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven will be volunteering with the Yale Peabody Museum for their MLK Environmental and Social Justice Event. The event will help children learn about MLK Jr. and ways to save the environment through stage performances and learning booths. Many organizations in the area will have having booths and Joey will be serving at the United Community and Family Services booth.

On Monday, VISTA members at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven are planning to volunteer with the Veterans Affair making welcoming baskets. These baskets are filled with household items for formerly homeless veterans who are moving into new apartments.

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley 
Woonsocket, Rhode Island

This year for NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley’s MLK Day of Service event the MLK Community Service Committee are collaborating with community members to create murals dedicated to MLK’s message and the community’s cultural diversity. The murals will be painted at the Woonsocket Police Station, Woonsocket High School and the YMCA in downtown Woonsocket. There will also be a neighborhood cleanup effort on the same day. Read more about the event here.

Want to join an event? Visit the Presidential Inauguration Committee's National Day of Service website to find an event near you.