Turning a day of service into a day of fun

January 25
05:00 2018

By Busta Brown

This past Saturday morning, Jan. 20, HandsOn Northwest North Carolina helped turn a day of service into a day of fun and excitement for hundreds of youth at Winston-Salem State University with the ninth annual MLK Read-In event inside the Donald Julian Reaves Activity Center.

The Read-In was held by HandsOn Northwest North Carolina in conjunction with Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University, Salem College, UNC-School of the Arts, and Girl Talk Triad Chapter. The Read-In  promotes Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service, education, and community empowerment to children ages 4-10. Each child is matched with a “reading buddy,” and the pairs participate in a variety of activity stations focused on Dr. King’s legacy.

One of the event program coordinators for The MLK Reading Program, Chelii Broussard, said she loves seeing so many volunteers showing love for the youth. “The most important piece to this is bringing the kids together to learn about MLK and his legacy, and two of the most important parts is dealing with literacy and leadership. The many stations are here to teach the youth leadership in sustainability, leadership in mastering their talent as far as music and art and anything that helps them learn and grow.”

Jaelyn Homes worked the reading station. “This is where the youth come to get books, and the books were donated from the community.” The youth were allowed to take as many books as they wanted.

The youth were excited to learn about the Legacy of MLK Jr. They were all smiles and extremely focused as they visited the many learning stations at the HandsOn Northwest North Carolina Read-In. One of my favorites was the advocacy station, where I met volunteer Zaina Robinson. “This station focuses on animal rights, world hunger, bullying and racism. We teach them to advocate for these important issues in society,” she said.

I asked Zaina to read some of what the students wrote. “Here’s one about racism: It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, we shouldn’t think of somebody as a color, we should think of them as a person.” 

As I made my rounds meeting the youth and their reading buddies, which were college students from Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State universities, I was very encouraged about not just a great future for America, but for the world. The intellectual conversation between 8-10 year olds and college students both warmed my heart and inspired my soul; it was truly amazing. 

The Dream Cloud Station encouraged the youth to believe and see their dreams of a greater future. “The kids come here and write down all of their dreams”, said volunteer Antonia Hicks. Hicks showed me one of the Dream Clouds, which read, “I have a dream to be a labor and delivery nurse.”

As I was winding down, I caught up with Goldie Irving, one of the main organizers for the HandsOn Read-In. She helped recruit all the volunteers from the community and different colleges. “I love this program, because it helps our children to further understand  what Martin Luther King stood for.”

You’ll truly enjoy my interviews with some of the youth and volunteers on The Chronicle You Channel at Winston Salem Chronicle. 

HandsOn Northwest North Carolina equips nonprofits with the skills and resources needed to be effective and efficient; engages citizens in service for the greater good of the community; connects nonprofits, volunteers, businesses, schools and churches to each other to foster strong collaboration; and inspires meaningful change in our community through service and innovation. 

For more info call (336) 724-2866.

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