People from AHRC New York City programs joined together with staff members, family members, and community volunteers for the 2nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday, January 20. Their efforts primarily centered on collecting and distributing food to needy New Yorkers.

I came to help out people who really need it,” said David Guaman, a self-advocate, who volunteered at Joseph T. Weingold Day Center in Elmhurst, Queens. “I love to help out because it makes me a better person.

In addition to the Elmhurst site, volunteers gathered at Norfolk Adult Day Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side; Wendy M. Siegel Day Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn; and at PS241 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. These neighborhoods are notable for their rapidly shifting demographics and high levels of food insecurity and income inequality.

Continued Service Success

January 20, 2020, marked AHRC NYC’s second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service initiative.  “This year, we had 220 volunteers, more than 4,000 pounds of food donated, and over 200 clothing items donated between the four sites,” said Andrew Pfadt-TrillingDirector of Quality Improvement for AHRC NYC’s Adult Day Services.

In 2019, 118 volunteers combined to donate 1,500 pounds of food in 2019, which provided meals for nearly 400 people in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Community volunteers of all ages helped New York City residents in need, learn more about food insecurity in New York City, and discover different ways to help make a difference in their neighborhoods. Volunteers:

  • Packaged non-perishable food
  • Picked up donated food from partnering restaurants via a partnership with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
  • Delivered food to people in need, including donations throughout the week to community food pantries
  • Made cards for senior citizens’ food deliveries
  • Put together packages containing winter clothing, feminine hygiene products, and more daily living items for people in need.

Making the World a Better Place

Bonnie Astor, an Art Consultant with AHRC NYC, coordinated art activities for children and adults from the community. “One of our art activities today is building a community wall,” said Bonnie. “Everyone can post a wish or an action they want to make their community and the world a better place.

Some of the multi-colored Post-Its carried messages inspired by Dr. King, such as:

  • Do small things with great love.
  • Giving of my services gives me joy.
  • Give back as much as I have received.
  • All people may live the best lives that they can.

Avril Haines used to work in the national security sector, including being the first female Deputy Director of the CIA, before becoming a Commissioner with the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. She volunteered with her husband at PS241 in Crown Heights, preparing packages of food to be donated to local shelters and pantries.

All of the commissioners go out to do public service on MLK Day, as our staff picks a place for us to go in the region where we work,” Avril said. “This is my first time doing anything with AHRC NYC. It’s wonderful to see what is happening here today with everybody coming together for this day of service.

In Elmhurst, Giovanni Richardson was among a group of volunteers from IBM, which had a widespread service initiative of MLK Day. “Today was very fulfilling. It’s always good to give back your time and your energy whenever you can,” Giovanni said.

Brooklyn-based self-advocate Elyssa Zeller summed up the day’s purpose. “I came out here today to support MLK,” Elyssa said. “He did so much for us. Without him, we would not have the freedom to speak for our rights and the freedom of others.