To celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy, the Y hosted a series of events in the month of January culminating with a large event and service project on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The events included reading and learning from stories pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement; Intergenerational and Interfaith meal packing event to deliver to vulnerable homebound NYC residents, Food Drive across all of our Youth programs: at our partnering public middle and high schools, Be Me After School and Early Childhood Department. Celebrating the Y value of “Remembrance” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and National Holocaust Remembrance Day, students at CSS SONYC Program participated in an open mic style writing corner, presenting their poems and speeches reflecting the theme of remembrance and equality.
On MLK Day our diverse interfaith community members engaged in an event generously sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York. This event brought together people of all ages, ranging from preschoolers to seniors. With Camp Twelve Trails we partnered with Citymeals on Wheels to pack 2,000 meals, 4,700 condiment boxes and made several hundred cards to be delivered to frail aged New Yorkers, ensuring they never go a day without a nutritious meal. Camp Twelve Trails teens played an important role in this service project assisting with check-in, and volunteering with packing.
On the same day, we partnered with PJ Library on a service project where young families with preschool age children collected 10 boxes of non perishable food to be delivered to the JCC of Washington Heights Food Pantry for further distribution to frail community seniors.
After the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019, when tens of thousands of high schoolers mobilized their peers nationwide to fight climate change, joining countless youth from around the world, we expect that our event and discussions encouraged youth activism and enacted change, but we did not expect to see similar effects in our younger, elementary school age students. Proudly shared by our 3rd – 5th Grade Be Me After School Assistant Director, Beth Lobasov:
“While studying the importance and timeless significance of Martin Luther King Jr., the students spent a few days reading one of the most impactful speeches in American History, “I Have A Dream”. After taking in all of his words, active questions followed. The children mentioned that he talked about the heinous inequality of human beings and so many other issues that came along with such disrespectful treatment. Other students also mentioned that not only did Martin Luther King discuss so many issues, but he also explained solutions to these issues as well. We continued by discussing issues in the world today and brainstormed different solutions that we felt could potentially help these situations. Each student chose a current issue and solution that they felt passionate about to write about as their “dream” toward a better future. These children put a lot of thought, care and effort into their dreams and with them, I have a dream that our future is a little bit brighter”.
The Y is committed to tikkun olam. This concept of repairing the world is central to our being. A safe haven for immigrants, refugees and an ethnically diverse community for 102 years, we are constantly looking for new ways to refine its programs to contribute to the community.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy allowed us to further cultivate and celebrate our welcoming and a supportive environment.
By Victoria Neznansky, Chief Development and Social Services Officer