Saturday, January 25, 2014

MLK Day: A Holiday for Caring and Community Service

Posted by Debby Yoder, DECATUR, GA -- The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was designated as a day of service, "A Day On, Not a Day Off!" to honor his life and continue the work he began in the Poor People’s Campaign. Dr. King once declared, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" The City of Decatur answers by coordinating a huge project to help local seniors with repairs of all sizes. They work year-round meeting with homeowners to assess their needs, purchase materials, secure donations and fund-raise. Projects range from yard maintenance and gutter cleaning to major plumbing, furnace and roof work, installing attic stairs, bracing floors and replacing porches and railings. And on MLK day volunteers flock to the city to take on many of these projects.

This MLK community service event draws individuals from a variety of  organizations -- boy and girl scouts, city workers, churches, and even the Three Piece Suit Football League. I had the privilege of riding with project coordinator Paul Mitchell as he traveled from one job site to the next, overseeing 24 different groups and their work. At each location, the volunteers were having great fun working together, and one group even did shots (of water) to keep the playful atmosphere going.

At one site the volunteers were helping a retired homeowner who. four years ago, adopted a two-day old baby girl born to an alcoholic mother unable to care for her. Now at age four, the little girl still requires multiple types of weekly therapy.  But you’d never know it. She was happy and energetic as she watched volunteers remove an old shed from the backyard to expand her play area. She proudly helped deliver homemade lasagna to the group and joyfully bounced around entertaining everyone as they ate lunch. I felt I was witnessing the true meaning of community as she shared her joy and cared for the volunteers who were helping take care of her adoptive mother so she can continue taking the best care of her. I think Dr. King would be proud of the work being done in his honor.

Debby Yoder is a contributor to Social Shutter and a Sociology major at Georgia State University. She can be contacted at

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