The day we memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy is special indeed—and so are the other 364 days a year when LISC AmeriCorps members serve their communities, as they have for the past two plus decades.
It’s a question that carries as much urgency—and motivational power—in 2018 as it did when Dr. King posed it in a 1963 sermon. And it’s one that LISC AmeriCorps members have been striving to answer through their actions for 23 years, ever since our program began.
This year, some 100 members, in urban and rural communities across the country, are working to connect people and places to opportunity through partnerships with local organizations. And in the process, they are becoming leaders in their own right.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, they will be volunteering in community celebrations and taking on special projects in honor of the civil rights leader’s life and message. In San Diego, for instance, LISC AmeriCorps members are installing a children’s area and a butterfly and ladybug habitat (think pollination and biodiversity!) at a community garden in the underinvested southeast district of the city.
Members in Milwaukee will be working with Habitat for Humanity on a day-long “build,” repairing homes in the Washington Park neighborhood while their counterparts in Jacksonville, FL will paint the concession stand at Kooker Park, the newest LISC/NFL Grassroots Foundation playing field in that city. A nonprofit group, Men In and Out of School, which runs programming for the park, relies on income from the concession stand to support their activities.
Our members serving in rural community organizations will be volunteering with town parades and civil rights-themed workshops, or lending a hand in other ways. In the southern Berkshire area of Massachusetts, LISC AmeriCorps member Sarah Trench will spend the day with Construct, Inc., a group dedicated to creating permanent affordable housing. “I’m excited to serve with Construct,” Trench said, “because over a quarter of their units are prioritized for homeless families and individuals.”
Trench is answering Dr. King's question on this MLK Day. And like the rest of her LISC AmeriCorps sisters and brothers, she will the day after, and the day after that.