Commentary: Make MLK Day a day ‘on,’ not off

Martin Luther King Day gives us an opportunity to come together as a national community to reflect on the amazing strength of Dr. King and his commitment to better our nation. It is a day to celebrate, honor and remember. It is also a day to challenge ourselves to do good in our own communities.

State Sen. Kevin Kelly

State Sen. Kevin Kelly

Over the past two decades, Martin Luther King Day has become almost synonymous with serving others. In the 1990s, it became recognized as a “National Day of Service” to embrace the spirit of Dr. King and put his teachings into practice.

Today, people across the country, and across our state, are continuing to celebrate this tradition of action.

Dr. King had a dream to make our nation a place where all people could be rightfully treated as equals; a dream to make our nation a better place for our children and a place where we would support and help our neighbors.

His dream can only become reality if we continue to advance it and carry on his legacy of service.

In light of that, I encourage everyone to serve our community in some way. On Monday, Jan. 19, instead of celebrating a day off of work, we can make it a day “on” by getting involved, going out into the community and volunteering our time to better life for those around us.

Instead of just reflecting on the day, take action! To get started, take a look at some of the following volunteer opportunities in and around the 21st Senatorial District.

Spooner House

The Spooner House facility in Shelton will be open on MLK Day to provide food, shelter and support services to people in need.

The entrance to Spooner House on Todd Road in Shelton.

The entrance to Spooner House on Todd Road in Shelton.

Volunteers are welcome to help with a variety of tasks, such as organizing pantry items, filling food orders, preparing emergency food bags, cleaning the kitchen and cafeteria, as well as preparing and serving meals.

The first step each interested volunteer would need to do is fill out a volunteer application ahead of time. Interested volunteers can stop in at 30 Todd Road, Shelton, to pick up a volunteer application or find it on the Spooner House website at www.actspooner.org.

Spooner House also welcomes volunteers to run their own programs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For example, you can run a food drive in your neighborhood to support Spooner House by collecting items on the organization’s needs list www.actspooner.org/Wish_List.html.

University of Bridgeport

The University of Bridgeport’s MLK Day of Service brings together hundreds of volunteers from all over the greater Bridgeport area to celebrate Dr. King by serving our local communities. The university serves as home base for a variety of community projects, with volunteers meeting to check-in at the John J. Cox Student Center at 8:30 a.m.

Volunteers will participate in service projects throughout the morning and return to the university for lunch. Food and transportation to service projects is included.

Service opportunities at UB include: preparing meal kits to be donated to local food banks, participating in free writing activities and discussions to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and cleaning up neighborhood streets. These programs are open to people of all ages.

To register and see which projects are still in need of volunteers visit: http://bit.ly/1CfBLiX. The link has been shortened to make it easier to copy from the printed article.

More ideas

For more ideas to help you honor and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., visit www.MLKDay.gov to find volunteer opportunities, lesson plans, and guides to help you launch your own service projects.

If you can’t get out to volunteer on Monday, think about making a commitment to serve in the future. Together, we can create a world of good in our community year-round.

Kevin Kelly represents the 21st Senatorial District, which includes all of Shelton as well as parts of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. He may be reached at 800-842-1421 or [email protected]

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