“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.
Next Monday, Jan. 20 marks the national observance of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Turn this day off into an opportunity to join in the MLK Day of Service movement.
New York State has 10 Regional Volunteer Centers (part of the NYS Office of National and Community Service), that have been charged with a three-year plan of developing and expanding a sustainable network of community service agencies to provide volunteering resources throughout the State; to engage one million New Yorkers in service projects; and to deliver management training to strengthen the State’s non-profit agencies.
In a show of statewide solidarity, the SUNY system has joined forces with the Regional Volunteer Centers to co-host a statewide day of service on Jan. 20. Events (listed HERE) will take place throughout the State, in which SUNY students, staff and alumni can participate, feeling connected in their altruistic efforts despite geographic separation.
Not part of the SUNY network but still want to participate? Visit the website of your Regional Volunteer Center for local opportunities:
The Stakeholders was founded in 2008 by local young professionals. The group states that they are “committed to community service and civic engagement, have encouraged adults to serve, youth to build character, families to bond, young professionals to excel as volunteer and philanthropic leaders, mature adults to stay engaged and businesses to address community needs.” The Stakeholders provide information about volunteer opportunities for residents in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.
In addition to volunteering, you can nominate someone for a 2014 GOBY Award, including Most Outstanding Company Service Project, Building Sustainable Communities Award, Arts Ambassador Award, and the Everyday Hero award, among others. Nominations are due January 31.
Serving Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties, this center’s website currently has listings for a host of organizations currently seeking volunteers, including the Learning Disabilities Association of Central New York and the Red Cross.
This Rochester-based center serves Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Seneca, Yates and Wayne counties. The Society for the Protection and Care of Children and Genesee County’s Habitat for Humanity could use more hands on deck.
The United Way is home base for the Mid-Hudson Valley’s Regional Volunteer Center, serving Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. They recommend collecting food for the MLK Food Drive in New Rochelle and the Canned Soup and Cereal Drive in Mt. Kisco as great activities for MLK Day.
Due to the geographic location of Nassau and Suffolk counties, there was major damage from Hurricane Sandy that remains to this day. There are a host of needs in these communities as a result, and extra help is always welcome.
There exist a plethora of volunteer opportunities in the five boroughs on MLK Day itself, but to get you inspired, there are also events on Sunday, Jan. 19 that will bring to mind the intellectualism and spirituality of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. The “New York Times” suggests two events: WNYC radio will host a conversation at the Apollo between their own Brian Lerer and Farai Chideya, a novelist and journalist; they plan to discuss “the immediate future of New York City through Dr. King’s moral compass.” Park Avenue Christian Church will conduct a spiritual sing-along, free and open to the public, to honor Dr. King’s memory.
In addition to hosting events, this Utica-based center offers mini $250 grants to support projects in Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties; something to keep on your radar for 2015’s MLK Day of Service.
Serving the counties of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence, their website states that New York deplorably ranks 51st in volunteering out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Check out their opportunities and participate to help improve this statistic.
Like the Mohawk Valley Regional Volunteer Center, this center also offers mini-grants to fund local volunteer projects. Check out this year’s awardees (representing Chemung, Chenango, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, and Delaware counties) and join them in their work on Monday.
This center’s (serving Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Allegany counties) official MLK Day event is a food drive in Hamburg. Volunteers will travel door to door to collect non-perishable food for the Food Bank of Western New York. It’s an incredible opportunity to both meet and greet and help feed your neighbors.