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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR 25TH ANNUAL MLK DAY OF SERVICE


Jan. 11, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC) encourage all community members to participate in the 25th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 15, which will feature volunteer service projects from 9 a.m. to noon, and a program and lunch to begin at 12:30 p.m. in the campus’s Venable Gym.

The theme of this year’s event is based on MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which defended his strategy for nonviolent resistance to racism and oppression. Theme colors, which were inspired from this letter, will be included. They are yellow for self-purity, blue for action, red for identity, and green for negotiate.

According to Michael Obasohan, assistant director of diversity programs and the MCLA Multicultural Education Center, this year’s event was moved from the MCLA Church Street Center to the larger space of the Venable Gym to accommodate its growth and popularity. More than 200 people are expected to participate.

“This is a great event that the North Adams community, MCLA students, and Williams College students look forward to each year as they come together and give back on this powerful day,” Obasohan said. “This Day of Service was planned by a committee who come together to share ideas and experiences to put together an amazing MLK Day of Service.”

In addition to the volunteer service projects, a free community lunch and celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Venable Gym. As part of the program, Richard Alcombright, former mayor of North Adams, will be honored with this year’s MLK Peacemaker Award for his dedication to both the people who live here and a multitude of programs established throughout the region.

According to Kathy Keeser, executive director of the Family Life Support Center in Adams, Alcombright goes beyond what is required in his positions of responsibility, and is an approachable leader who works tirelessly to include others in the process of building community and improve the lives of others.

Entertainment will be provided as part of the celebration, and will include music by MCLA Allegrettos, as well as poems written and performed by Casual Writers of Northern Berkshire. The program will include speakers North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, MCLA President James Birge, State Rep. John Barrett III (D-North Adams), and State Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield). Alex Daugherty, chair of MLK for Northern Berkshire committee, will serve as the master of ceremonies. He will be assisted by MLK committee members.

Prior to the lunch and cerebration, the day will include activities suitable for all ages and abilities. Groups who wish to volunteer together should pre-register and sign-up with their choice of service project with the name of the group and names of all group members.

Pre-registration is encouraged. Go to http://berkshirenonprofits.com/list_all.php to read service project descriptions and sign up online. Or, email Keeser, kathykeeser@gmail.com, with your choice of activity. Please include your email, the town you live in, and your phone number in case of changes, as part of your pre-registration.

Those who do not pre-register for a service project should sign in at 8:30 a.m. in the Venable Gym, where coffee, tea and light refreshments will be served. A welcome will take place at 9 a.m., before participants are directed to their on-site or off-site service assignments.

Participants will choose from approximately 20 activities to provide service to the community, at sites that include the Louison House, YMCA, Adams Youth Center, Friendship Food Pantry, Goodwill Industries, and Williamstown First Congregational Church.

In addition, a variety of projects will take place in the Venable Gym. They will include blanket and scarf making, plastic mat weaving, making shopping bags from feed bags, care packages for Puerto Rican families, and a letter-writing “Action Workshop,” directed toward legislators regarding cuts to funding that benefit families, homeless individuals and those who are incarcerated.

The 25th Annual MLK Day of Service is co-sponsored by NBCC and MCLA, and is supported annually by hundreds of MCLA students, faculty, staff, clubs and organizations, including the Trailblazer basketball and other teams of student-athletes, and the MCLA Center for Service and Citizenship. ARAMARK is providing food donations.

For more information, contact Obasohan at M.Obasohan@mcla.edu; or Spencer Moser, director of the MCLA Center for Service and Citizenship, 413-662-5440 or Spencer.Moser@mcla.edu.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu.