By Gerry Leonard, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator
On January 16, 2016 the YWCA of Asheville hosted volunteers from the UNC-Asheville Key Center as part of our annual MLK Day of Service. To honor and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the YWCA partners with volunteers from local colleges to work with our Primary Enrichment (formerly the School Age program) students to create posters to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his lasting impact on our society and the YW’s continued work of eliminating racism.
16 volunteers from UNC-Asheville spent their day at the YWCA – instead of taking the day off – and gave back, by giving their time to make a difference in a kid’s life. Volunteers worked 1-on-1 with our Primary Enrichment students, creating posters highlighted with images of MLK and inspirational quotes – along with glitter, feathers and other creative ways children decorate posters.
This was not only a day of arts and crafts, but a wonderful opportunity for the Primary Enrichment students, K – 5, to engage with college students to understand the role MLK plays in all of our lives and how his legacy continues on. Some of the conversations I heard began with, “MLK had a dream, what is your dream”? The response from our YW kids ranged from grand dreams of flying in outer space or becoming President to more practical responses of wanting everyone to love each other. This in many ways encapsulates the true spirit of what MLK Day is all about: Honoring MLK and continuing to dream of equity and peace, while believing that you can achieve anything you want.
The YWCA MLK Day of Service is as much of a service as it is enrichment. Many of the volunteers take this time to share with the Primary Enrichment students what their major is, and what they want to do when after college. This is particularly enriching as many of the children in the Primary Enrichment program come from low-income families where their parents are working full-time, often at multiple jobs. For the kids to hear first-hand from students about what college is like provides such a profound impact on their lives. So, as our young students continue to dream of being an astronaut and running for President, these conversations could very well propel them onward to making their dream a reality.
We’re always looking for committed volunteers! Learn more at www.ywcaofasheville.org/volunteer.