AmeriCorps members in Utah commemorated MLK Day by participating in service projects across the state. This year’s MLK Day projects were adjusted to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and many AmeriCorps members took the opportunity to perform service for their families, friends, neighbors, and religious congregations.
AmeriCorps members serving with the AmeriCorps Utah Stem Initiative Program participated in a few different projects, one of which was a park cleanup at Liberty Park. AmeriCorps members gathered 6 bags of trash and handed out snacks and coffee to those in the park who needed it.
Members serving with Salt Lake County’s Most Vulnerable Populations Program assisted with creating home necessity kits for a community partner. First Step House has newly developed long-term apartments that will allow those suffering from substance abuse disorder to have additional housing options. AmeriCorps members compiled 40 kits with 52 items to welcome residents to their units. The kits will have everything they need to get settled in their new residence including: a dish rack, shower curtains, pots, pans, towels, utensils, laundry bags, and more! Members were proud to support their community partner and community members.
AmeriCorps members serving with the Utah Healthcare Corps participated in several projects, both organized and independent. One group of members participated in a project supporting the Utah AIDS Foundation in Salt Lake City. They cleaned and organized the food bank, office, and HIV and STI test site. Other members served independently by sorting donations at the Utah Food Bank in St. George, creating activity and coloring projects for Root for Kids in St. George, providing interpretation services at Community Health Connect in Provo, and facilitating an LGBTQ+ young adult group at Encircle in Salt Lake City.
AmeriCorps members serving with the BYU Family Home and Social Sciences program served over 248 hours! Members engaged in their communities by helping neighbors, sending notes to the elderly, helping those with new babies, serving children in need, supporting religious organizations, donating to local causes, supporting refugees, and more!
The Utah Higher Education AmeriCorps Network (UHEAN) partnered with JustServe.org to create and promote service projects in support of local United Ways. An AmeriCorps member serving with UHEAN in Cedar City also participated in a project supporting the HOPE Pantry which provides non-perishable food items and some hygiene items to support SUU students through tight times.
Members serving with the AmeriCorps Education Initiative of Utah (AEIOU) participated in a wide variety of projects, both large and small.
They had members: paint curbs, run food drives, make blankets for homeless, hospitals, animal shelters, rehab centers, and the OgdenCan project. They also made teddy bears for refugees, sleeping mats, medical dolls for hospitals, lap quilts for care centers, transcribe graves, decorated the boxes given out at the food bank, picked up trash around their communities, made kits for the homeless and kits for police to hand out, working at food banks, and of course made masks. They had many members make letters of love and gratitude for the front line workers (police, firemen, hospital staff) and to those who are lonely in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
Some projects had immediate benefits, such as, seeing the curbs clearly painted and the community clean. Some benefits were the happiness and joy of the participants. Everyone involved in donating food responded how much the food is needed right now and how grateful the food banks were to receive them. It would be wonderful to see the moment a letter warmed the heart of a lonely person or a tired person who feels they have sacrificed so much when the world doesn’t seem to care. Members have expressed over and over again their amazement at others being excited and willing to get involved or their desire to do it again. One member expressed how she made baby hats that usually take much longer and this day she was able to complete them in half of the time. Well over 500 letters were given out and over 6,000 food items were donated. Every member was happy they served and walked away a little better for doing so.
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Thanks to all AmeriCorps members and program staff for serving on MLK Day. We invite all community members to join us in continuing to serve beyond MLK Day. That may mean that you attend a volunteer training to prepare to serve as a regular volunteer. Or it may mean that you volunteer with a new organization you want to learn more about. Where and how you serve is up to you – the important thing is to get involved.