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AmeriCorps Volunteers Set Example for MLK Day

posted Jan 22, 2013, 12:36 PM by BHC Boyle Heights   [ updated Jan 22, 2013, 12:36 PM by Julio Zaldivar ]
Americorp blog photo 1-18-13 formatted for blog
Will Eng for web
by Will Ing
Program Manager, Neighborhoods
Jan 18, 2013

January 21, 2013, is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for Service, the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” 

The Corporation for National and Community Service’s MLK Day website describes it as a day for people from all walks of life to come together and transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into action that helps solve neighborhood problems.  And it talks about service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals and create solutions. 

This is certainly an opportunity to encourage people to volunteer.  But it’s also a chance for us to recognize the people who are serving every day in our communities.  People like Andrea, a young AmeriCorps member at Kern County’s Haven Drive Middle School.  As part of a statewide AmeriCorps program, Andrea and her fellow members serve as mentors and role models, helping to keep kids in school and create safer and more supportive school environments in ten California neighborhoods. 

Andrea’s service embodies the purpose of MLK Day and shows that health happens in our schools and communities.  That service strengthens her community by improving social and emotional health, and giving young people the chance to succeed in school.  It empowers her and her students, who are inspired by a young leader who was born and raised in their community.  And it helps create solutions: Haven Drive Middle School once had no alternatives to suspensions and expulsions.  A year of the mentoring program has brought an increase in student achievement and attendance, and a reduction in behavior problems.

Below is a video that profiles Andrea, her school and the children who she mentors.  I think you'll find it inspiring.