In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ’s legacy, volunteers across the country made #MLKDay a day on, instead of a day off, to strengthen their communities. Our Philly Fellows were no exception! The Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service is the largest King Day event in the nation, so there were plenty of service opportunities across the city for the Philly Fellows to join in on with their host agencies and with other organizations.

Photo courtesy of the South Philly Review

Photo courtesy of the South Philly Review

Philly Fellow Hannah Armbruster was one of our fellows serving with her host agency. Hannah, who serves with Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) in Northeast Philadelphia, helped to run a day of service across town with the Refugee Mental Health Collaborative in South Philadelphia. Two dozen volunteers helped with painting and cleaning the space, which houses English language courses for Burmese, Bhutanese, and Vietnamese populations. Fellow Chris Capron, who serves at Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), joined Hannah at this project and found it to be a great experience: “I got to work with Mastery Charter school students, other AmeriCorps VISTA members/alumni, and friends to help spruce up the center, including cleaning and organizing supplies and painting. It was very rewarding and we got to hear about the great work that the center does to help support refugees when they arrive.” 

Sarah Kaeppel, who works as the Refugee Self-Sufficiency Coordinator with HIAS Pennsylvania, was also busy working on a project to benefit refugees by enhancing her host agency’s capacity to provide resources:

I organized six volunteers to come into our office and help us sort donations and rearrange the office space to be more efficient and accessible. The day was a huge success – our office is much more presentable and a happier place to be in on a daily basis, we have the capacity to fit more interns and volunteers, and most importantly, all of our donations (especially clothes, coats, toys, and food) are organized and easily accessible to our refugee families when they come through the office.

Other Philly Fellows also reflected on their day of service:

It was a great way to learn about an urban farm just a few blocks from where I work, which I otherwise may not have discovered. Maya Nojechowicz, who volunteered with an urban farming project organized by Repair the World Philly and the Philly Farm Crew/Jewish Farm School

I enjoyed painting at Hawthorne Cultural Center. I think that work like this goes a long way because even though none of us were professional painters, we worked our hardest knowing that the work would be appreciated by the community. – EboniJoi McNeill, who served with men from her site at Ready, Willing & Able and with Philly Fellows Kadija Diallo and Sarah Giskin

[Serving in MANNA‘s kitchen is] a great way to connect with our volunteers and understand why they come in; some of them have been clients in the past and others come in because they know of someone who has relied on our services before. –Adrian Glass, who served in the kitchen at her host agency

It was a great opportunity to serve with different people from my church and help out a resource scarce school in the process. -Alexander Abdalla, who volunteered at Mitchell Elementary School

My day of service was focused on attorneys – both aspiring attorneys at a high school mock trial tournament and current attorneys serving at a legal aid clinic for small businesses. While I work with attorneys every day, it was nice to spend some time seeing how helpful an attorney’s skills can be.  The high schoolers gain so much confidence from learning valuable public speaking skills by playing the part of an attorney and the clients at the clinic benefited greatly from an attorney’s voice on the legal issues they were facing. -Christine Hammell, who volunteered with her host agency, Philadelphia VIP, and at LaSalle University

To see how other AmeriCorps members across the country served on the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, check out this Storify by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).