Service to a Cause Greater than Self
Most people have MLK Day circled on their calendar and that is no different from us here at City Year. However, the reasons might be very different as to why. For many, MLK Day means a day of rest, a day to reset, a day to lay around the house and do nothing. But for City Year, the day means something completely different. Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.” This is exactly how we celebrate his birthday at City Year Little Rock.
Corps Members and the full City Year Little Rock staff, along with volunteers and community partners, joined together at Mabelvale Middle School to receive food donations that helped stock Mabelvale’s new food pantry. This new food pantry will help provide meals to students and families in Southwest Little Rock. The link between food insecurity and poor education outcomes has long been established. According to a report published by Children’s HealthWatch, food insecurity can be a predictor of poor academic success for students. Speakers during the press conference emphasized this and also the importance of making sure our students are fed. As one speaker said, “A student cannot learn if they are hungry.” Martin Luther King Jr. himself spoke out about the injustices of hunger and food insecurity, saying “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
Beyond the message of education and food insecurity, the values of City Year and the message of Dr. King are parallel. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that service was integral into building stronger communities. Not only did he believe in the importance of serving, but at the core of his message was that anyone can serve. In the Little Rock City Year building, there is a large quote from Dr. King painted on the wall that reads, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” He believed that you don’t have to be wealthy or have a college degree to serve others and your community. Anyone is capable of doing good and anyone can help improve the well-being of their community. We take this to heart at City Year. Not only are Corps Members in schools everyday serving our students, but we also serve at events like the food drive that further show our commitment to building up our communities. If we want to improve the academic achievements of our students, it is essential to support all aspects of their lives, including fighting hunger and food insecurity.
I am sure many of our Corps members and staff would have enjoyed having the 16th as a day off work. Nonetheless, everyone showed up on time with an open heart and a smiling face with the intention of doing service for others. Although MLK Day is designated as a day of service, in all reality I believe he would elect everyday as a day of service. Dr. King once said, “The time is always right to do right.”
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