Editorial: Keep helping community after MLK Jr. Day service

Editorial: Keep helping community after MLK Jr. Day service
January 21
00:00 2016
Photo by Tevin Stinson
Winston-Salem Human Relations Director Wanda Allen-Abraha explains that Martin Luther King Jr. Helping Hands Day, “basically, is to provide a venue for city employees to have hands-on experiences with community service and giving back to the community in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So, our goal is to encourage city employees to make a tangible effort and make a tangible difference in the very community that we serve.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday sparked numerous service events to honor Dr. King.

For the first time, Winston-Salem city workers donated some of their time during working hours to help 12 organizations, for instance. And for the seventh year, local colleges united to provide an opportunity for students to volunteer to help elementary school students learn about the values Dr. King espoused as a required project for the holiday.

The day of service to honor Dr. King has become popular. People volunteer to work on projects that help people in various ways. Most of the organizations that benefit are nonprofits. It’s nice for the nonprofits to get help during this time, but they need help year-round.

The elementary school students who learned about Dr. King’s values and the Civil Rights Movement need to know that they can keep reading the books and learning the values after the holiday event. The 12 organizations the city workers helped wouldn’t mind if more came to continue helping after the holiday. The day of service should be the beginning of volunteer service, especially in these times of change for many nonprofits.

For instance, the United Way, a major source of money for nonprofit programs, has changed its focus in allocating grants to nonprofit organizations. Organizations such as the Urban League and Salvation Army are losing large sums of money from the year before because of this change. It’s not that the programs being funded have changed; the United Way’s funding formula has. So, the programs are still deserving of help.

The nonprofits now have to find a way to make up the lost funding and gain new funding to stay ahead. One nonprofit leader lamented recently that her organization has no person designated to raise money, so with cuts in grants, the organization has to begin determining how to replace those funds. The organization could use a volunteer who knows about raising money.

We remember the man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the time to honor his birthday, but his legacy transcends that time. Lest we forget that Dr. King was a volunteer, also. He was a pastor of a church who volunteered time to fight for freedom and justice. Let’s keep working now that it’s after the holiday to really honor him.


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