MLK Day 2019 was certainly one for the books! Temperatures might have been low, but the sun was shining and spirits were high as more than 600 volunteers – a record number! – joined Westside Future Fund (WFF) for a “day on” to commemorate the life and legacy of the Westside’s own Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“There’s no denying that this day of service is a big one, in part because this is Dr. King’s 90th birthday,” said Cristel Williams, WFF’s director of development in her welcome to volunteers. “It’s a poignant reminder of Dr. King’s legacy and his vision for a more just and compassionate society. So as we volunteer today, let’s remember his commitment to unity and tolerance.”
And with that rousing message, volunteers were charged and ready to serve! WFF’s #VolunteerCorps was a mighty contingent on King Day with participants coming from far and wide, including groups made up of WFF impact partners like Georgia Power, PwC, Novelis, Chick-fil-A and Equifax as well as community groups like Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Oglethorpe University.
“It was important for us to volunteer because community service IS Spelman,” said Tanya Stevens with Spelman College’s Office of Civic Engagement who chaperoned a group of 40 student volunteers. “The fact that it’s MLK Day makes it even better. There’s no better day to serve.”
Projects were spread across five locations, giving participants a variety of activities to choose from. Each site also represented a different aspect of Westside Future Fund’s four impact areas: cradle-to-career education; safety and security; community health and wellness; and mixed-income communities.
At M. Agnes Jones Elementary School – a school supported by WFF’s education impact strategy and one of the only STEM-certified schools in the state – projects ranged from painting murals, sorting supply closets and stenciling empowering words throughout the school hallways to painting curbs, pulling weeds and planting flowers in front of the building.
Novelis was one of the larger groups represented at the M. Agnes site. Their more than 20 volunteers were planted about the school helping with various projects such as interior painting and exterior landscaping.
“I think we all come out because we like giving back to the community and being part of something bigger than just ourselves,” said Novelis associate Jessica Derrick, pictured below (second from left) with fellow associates. “I personally enjoy painting. I’m a sloppy painter but it’s always fun!”
Some of the most impressive projects at M. Agnes were the bright, inspiring murals done throughout. At various corners, volunteers could be found carefully painting within the lines of what would ultimately be beautiful works of art that the students will be able to enjoy for years to come.
At Truly Living Well – an organization that’s part of WFF’s community health and wellness impact strategy – volunteer activity included mulching walkways and trees, cleaning planting beds, planting shrubs, clearing overgrowth, preparing planting areas and general sorting and clean-up around the farm.
At Omenala-Griot Museum in Ashview Heights, volunteers built and repaired benches, did general and heavy landscaping, painted walls and planted flowers and shrubs.
“This museum was started in 1994 by my late mother, Dr. Narvi Pulse, to have a place where we could come and learn about our culture,” said Kevin Williams, proprietor of the Museum. “We do so many things here but today we were blessed by having Westside Future Fund come to paint the walls, they built garbage can containers, they stained our board wagon. They did so many things to improve the condition of the establishment. This is a vital institution that has been improved by Westside Future Fund being here. I can cry from the great help I’ve had here! I just say thank you!”
In partnership with the Ashview Heights Community Association, volunteers assisted with general and heavy landscaping and minor home repairs for seniors as well as clearing overgrowth and debris from streets and common areas.
One senior homeowner, in particular, was incredibly grateful for the help she received. Leanne Jefferson, pictured below with two of her volunteers, was ecstatic by day’s end.
“I was so happy to see Westside Future Fund come into my neighborhood,” said Ms. Jefferson. “When they came, boy what a job did they do! Just look! They did everything so nicely. They cleaned up and it was so fantastic! You just don’t know how much I appreciate it. I really, really did! Thank you, Westside Future Fund, for doing what you did!”
“Today we helped clean Ms. Jefferson’s yard,” said Equifax employee Stanley Hardman (pictured above with a colleague). “We did a little bit of raking, did some work under the crawl space and also helped Mrs. Agnes across the street rake her yard. Today is MLK Day, and we’re celebrating his birthday, so I just came to help the community out and the people in the community.”
Volunteers also worked on the WFF-sponsored Atlanta Habitat home build in Ashview Heights. The Habitat home is one of three being sponsored by Westside Future Fund as part of its mixed-income communities impact strategy.
Want to see more photos from the day? Click here to check out our #MLKDay2019 Facebook album!