Atlanta, Jan. 18, 2012 – Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, marked the beginning of their year of service by honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and contributing their time, talent, voice and money to improve their communities on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Jan. 16. “Dr. King’s work and message, which impacted so many aspects of our society, are more pertinent today than ever before,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light . “He challenged the power brokers and common person to see the world as it really was, then worked to bring about change to bring it closer to how it should be. Dr. King helped us all imagine, and then work toward, a ‘beloved community’ in America. For MLK Day, Points of Light created opportunities for civic dialogue through America’s Sunday Suppers to reflect and act upon Dr. King’s messages and provided on-the-ground local volunteer projects. President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia joined a service project at the Browne Education Campus in Washington, D.C. to help volunteers from HandsOn Greater DC Cares and Big Brothers Big Sisters build bookshelves and a reading corner for students and paint quotes from Dr. King on the library walls. Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden joined the 17th annual Global Citizen/Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service, the largest MLK Day event in the nation. Approximately 80,000 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware participated in more than 1,200 community projects. Their efforts resulted in breaking down barriers, building ongoing partnerships and promoting a realization that we have more in common than our differences. America’s Sunday Supper In towns across the nation, more than 63,000 people from diverse backgrounds committed to come together for America’s Sunday Supper – an opportunity to share a meal, discuss issues such as hunger, poverty and homelessness that families and veterans are facing today, and be inspired to take action. One example of these Sunday Suppers coming to life is through Dr. King’s wife Coretta Scott King’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Each of the sorority’s more than 950 chapters hosted Sunday Suppers and service projects to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King. More than 20,000 are estimated to have participated in dinner, a movie, meaningful discussion and service projects. The sorority also engaged 5,000 middle school girls participating in its Emerging Young Leaders program in service projects focused on human rights and creating equal opportunities for all Americans. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a national sponsor for MLK Day, provided financial support for all of Points of Light’s MLK Day programming along with 200 free meals to service leaders to encourage them to host a Sunday Supper at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant. Service Projects Points of Light, through its MLK Day grantees, activation partners and enterprises, engaged thousands of volunteers in service projects driven by community needs. Projects took place in hundreds of cities across the United State and around the world, including weatherizing homes, physically enhancing schools, serving meals and supporting veterans and military families. Many organizations used the day as a springboard for year-round service, such as signing up mentors and tutors for at-risk youth. As part of its MLK Day efforts, Points of Light received a $155,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to help mobilize more Americans to serve on MLK Day and throughout the year. Points of Light awarded six sub-grants through its volunteer activation enterprise HandsOn Network to: MLK365 (Philadelphia), Volunteer Center of Greensboro (North Carolina), HandsOn Central California (Fresno), Virginia Conflict Resolution Center, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and HandsOn Greater DC Cares. Each of these organizations created unique projects to address local needs and bring together its community. For example, in Washington, D.C., HandsOn Greater DC Cares brought volunteers together to provide a much-needed revitalization to Kenilworth Elementary School. Volunteers age 6 and older painted murals and meaningful quotes from Dr. King throughout the school, converted storage areas into usable space and beautified the learning environment. Activation partners including Dr. King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of America, theGrio.com and United Methodist Church engaged their constituencies in both service and dialogue, and supported the day in the spirit of Dr. King’s work, legacy and vision of creating a beloved community. Points of Lights enterprises activated volunteers across the country, including:
- HandsOn Network, Points of Light’s network of local volunteer action centers, hosted service projects designed to meet communities’ unique needs and set volunteers on a pathway to their own year of service.
- Our youth activation enterprise, generationOn, hosted Grow Involved! at PS 57 in East Harlem where kids, families and community groups viewed an excerpt from “Whatever it Takes” by Christopher Wong, then broke into small groups to discuss the film and participate in a hands-on service project. More than 20,000 students, parents and teacher also gained access to Grow Involved! toolkits to expand service-learning opportunities.
- AmeriCorps Alums, Points of Light’s national network for all AmeriCorps national service alumni, brought together service leaders at chapters across the country to share their experience and develop action plans at Sunday Suppers.
- Points of Light’s Corporate Institute, which enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service, provided tools to help employers recognize MLK Day both in their offices and at off-site service projects.
Innovative Experiences This year’s MLK Day had a strong online presence. People around the globe shared their conversations, perspectives and insights about service and the changes they plan to make in their community via Twitter (#MLK Day), Points of Light’s Facebook page or Points of Light’s online Livestream channel. These web-enabled conversations will continue beyond MLK Day as people extend their commitment to voluntary service. Points of Light engaged Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, to promote MLK Day to her 806,000 Twitter followers. Actor and activist Rosario Dawson communicated her commitment to service on MLK Day to her 465,000 Facebook fans. TheGrio.com promoted MLK Day through Facebook to its 390,000 fans. In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe MLK Day as a national day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. MLK Day provides Americans the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King through service to meet local and national needs. For more information visit MLKDay.gov.
About Points of Light Points of Light is the world’s leading volunteer organization, with more than 20 years of history and a bipartisan presidential legacy. Our mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world. We connect people to their power to make a meaningful difference, by providing access to tools, resources and opportunities to help volunteers use their time, talent, voice and money to meet the critical needs of our communities. We are organized to innovate, incubate and activate new ideas through our action networks, including: HandsOn Network, the largest network of 250 local volunteer centers across the country and around the world; generationOn, the youth service movement that ignites the power of kids to make their mark on the world; AmeriCorps Alums, the national service alumni network that activates the next generation of service leaders; and Points of Light Corporate Institute, which enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service. For more information, visit www.pointsoflight.org.