LIFTing In Honor of MLK

By LIFT on January 23, 2015

Categories: News

On January 18, 2015, the day before the official MLK Day of Service, President Barack Obama released a proclamation.  In the excerpt of his announcement that particularly stood out to me, he said:

“Dr. King understood that equality requires more than the absence of oppression; it requires the presence of economic opportunity. He recognized that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In a world full of poverty, he called for empathy; in the face of brutality, he placed his faith in non-violence. His teachings remind us we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are wealthy; to care about the child in the decrepit school long after our own children have found success; and to show compassion toward the immigrant family, knowing that we were strangers once, too.”

Those three characteristics in particular that Dr. King believed was necessary for creating a more equal society, immediately jumped out to me. As a LIFTer, I immediately recognized their similarity to LIFT’s core philosophy. Namely, that after 15+ years of working with community members struggling with poverty, we’ve come to believe that in order to overcome poverty, our members need to be equipped with personal, social, and financial foundations.

With a personal foundation, every individual has someone in their corner. Someone to give them empathy, moral support, and advice.

With a social Foundation, each individual has a network or social group that can provide them with the safety net they need. Be it a family, a religious institution, or a neighborhood.

With a financial foundation, as President Obama described, each individual has the economic opportunity to become self-sufficient and well on the road out of poverty.

In light of this shared philosophy, we were glad to do our part in the nationwide effort to honor Dr. King’s legacy this week, by volunteering in our communities:

Bock, an Americorps Member Service Fellow at our LIFT-DC office, joined his fellow LIFTers, to volunteer at Food and Friends. Together, they delivered prepared meals to residents from the DMV area. Reflecting back on the day, he says, “When the Volunteer Coordinator was talking with us, she stated how we may be some of their client’s only contact, as some of them live by themselves and cannot leave. It was so hard to hear how some people may not have a support network such as I am privileged to have. It really helped remind me [of] the importan[ce] of connecting with others and being kind, even if you aren’t going to see them again. I volunteered a lot in college, but was unable to recently. It was refreshing to do it again because I was able to work with people interested in helping others such as myself, and I got to see and support people within the community I never would have seen otherwise.”

Meanwhile, Caterina, a Shriver Americorps Program Fellow with LIFT-DC, spent the day providing childcare with Stepping Stones Family Shelter in Rockville, MD.  The highlight of her time volunteering, she says, was “How happy the kids were to have someone play with them. Even if it was something as simple as playing hangman. You could tell they really enjoyed the individual attention.” Catarina also adds, “[volunteering] connects you to the community and your neighbors. I’ve volunteered working with kids before and it [i]s something I want to continue. I’m going to be volunteering with Stepping Stones for the rest of the semester.”

Like Dr. King, we too share the belief that every individual deserves the opportunity to live their lives with dignity, and we hope that the work we do achieves equality for every struggling member of our community.