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“What are you doing for others?” on MLK Day

By Jennifer Sharp
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., AmeriCorps VISTA member

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As a Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps VISTA member, I typically work in the office as a communications and development associate, but on MLK day I’ll get the chance to work on our build site. The day of service will allow me to be involved in the “on-the-ground” construction and cleanup portion of D.C. Habitat’s work – something I don’t usually have exposure to at my desk. In the office I get to see the endless hours employees put into writing grants, coordinating volunteers, serving families and promoting the organization’s mission to media and funders. What I don’t get to see on a daily basis is the final outcome of this good work.

I think it will be rewarding to see the progress being made on home construction, and to see how lives can start to change for people living in Ivy City, a neighborhood in D.C. When you are sitting behind a desk, you sometimes forget the real impact you are having on someone’s life.

Each year on the third Monday in January, hundreds of thousands of people volunteer their time to causes around our nation as a way to honor Dr. King. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the celebration of MLK Day in recognition of Dr. King’s passion for service to our communities. In 1994, Congress declared MLK Day a National Day of Service. Participants are encouraged to volunteer for the day to help address some of our nation’s most pressing social issues, such as poverty, hunger and homelessness.

Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C., is excited to take part in the MLK National Day of Service once again this year. Currently D.C. Habitat is working on a mix of new construction and home rehabilitations in the Ivy City neighborhood. This year we will have the privilege of welcoming volunteers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, Gonzaga High School and numerous other individuals. Volunteers will work on the construction site, and after lunch they will participate in a community clean up, followed by a discussion about Dr. King.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was passionate about numerous social justice issues. A national day of service allows us to reflect back on what MLK and others have spent their lives working to achieve. Dr. King is famous for saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

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