This past Monday, all AmeriCorps members shared in the experience of celebrating MLK day. Our particular AmeriCorps experience attracted significant attention. We had nearly 150 volunteers, from across the state, gather together for a day of Martin Luther King Jr. day related celebration and service. Our kickoff celebration featured a variety of speakers from our state’s governor to Victoria Christgau (Executive Director of the CT Center for Nonviolence). We had the Hartbeat Ensemble and the Love Community Choir perform. The whole morning was a wonderfully, high-energy event dedicated to getting all of us psyched up to go out and perform service.
My service site was Martin Luther King elementary school and originally we had 70 volunteers scheduled to help clean the school’s stairwells, paint signs, and participate in a reflection heavy workshop. Our numbers dwindled down to a total of 10 volunteers which, considering the amount of work we had ahead of us to complete in three hours, raised an incredible overwhelming doubt in me about the amount of work we’d actually get done. I feared a half cleaned stairwell of four to get done and barely painted signs with zero time for the students to reflect (one of the most important principles of service learning). When we arrived at our site, we had to prep everything and talk the students through what they’d be doing before we were up and running. We divided them between the three tasks and then got to work and amazingly got one whole stairwell cleaned (well) and most of the signs painted and the students had time at the end to participate in the workshop activity as well as an opportunity to reflect on their day. People were so motivated by the day and by the kickoff that they really worked and worked hard as well as spending their short time together chatting and laughing. It was really interesting and a joy to see how the entire day unfolded before us after months of preparation and work.