Throughout the next few months, we will continue to share stories of service from the 2010 MLK Day of Service. Here is Nicole's story.
Wow! What a special day it was! On King Day, January 18, 2010, Boulevard Townhomes (BTH) came to life as the children put aside their own desires to make life for some local senior citizens a little bit fresher.
Wesley Kinter and Nicole Cooper, AmeriCorps Pennsylvania Campus Compact VISTAs from Wilkes University and King’s College, respectively, partnered for a collaborative project to help Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The event was a joint project between the United Way of Wyoming Valley, King’s College, Wilkes University, McGlynn Learning Center of BTH, Blue Cross, and B’nai B’rith Apartments.
McGlynn is an amazing place, a learning center in a subsidized housing project run by religious Sisters, Sister Miriam Stadulis and Sister Mary Ellen Fuhrman, whose impact on the children is profound. The center provides afterschool homework help and a variety of educational and other opportunities for the children. After learning about MLK and the notion of community service, the children were ready to serve their community. Among the activities is a new environmental and nutritional workshop series/club using the community garden as an outdoor learning laboratory for the children of McGlynn Garden Club.
To keep with the environmental theme the children have been studying, the service portion of the MLK day event was focused around improving indoor air quality for senior citizens living in B’nai B’rith Apartments, which is two blocks from BTH. The children received a lesson on how plants take harmful toxins out of the air, painted a hanging pot, planted a Spider Plant baby in their pot, and wrote a card for a senior. The 27 children and 15 volunteers then walked to B’nai B’rith Apartments where they met 30 senior citizens in the community room and personally handed them their new plant. Conversation filled the room with children teaching elders of the benefits to having their new Spider Plant and elders telling the children stories.
Tears came to one B’nai B’rith resident, Joe, who just couldn’t get over how wonderful his partner was and missed having kids around. The oldest McGlynn child, a ninth grader, asked if they could go back to B’nai B’rith again in the Spring or Summer to “hang out with them and check on their Spider Plants.” A sense of peace, antiviolence, giving, environmental concern, and happiness radiated from the students when the program concluded. What a wonderful day!