In 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King told an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, that "life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
At JCRC, doing for others defines our work year-round, whether it is our young adults preparing meals for the homeless or synagogue teams helping youth discover the joys of literacy.
This past Monday, JCRC, in partnership with City Mission, hosted our first annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. On a chilly and snowy day, 200 volunteers, including 140 from the Jewish community, spent the morning at the Mather School in Dorchester (the oldest public elementary school in the nation) to paint, sweep, scrub, and winterize.
Candidly, this day was a bit of an experiment for JCRC. Our programs to date have largely entailed sustained commitments, where volunteers return to a site for months and even years of recurring service. But we wanted to honor this day and Dr. King, and we wanted to create an opportunity for parents to share the message of Dr. King with their children and to teach the next generation about doing for others.
On Monday, the balance between sustained service and a single day of service was present in my mind, when my colleague at the Mass Council of Churches, the Rev. Laura Everett, tweeted: “If the true test of a Sunday sermon is Monday, maybe the test of #MLKDay is what we do on Tuesday.”
With Tuesday and beyond in mind, we decided to do this work with City Mission, and to continue developing our partnership with them in confronting poverty by building a wider community of compassion. Last year, we worked hand in hand with City Mission through the interfaith Boston Warm coalition, serving and advocating on behalf of hundreds of homeless people who were suddenly displaced by the closing of the Long Island Shelter, and who had to endure the ravages of last winter without shelter or appropriate services.
Thus, no aspect of our day of service day was more exciting to me than seeing volunteers as young as four years old, together with their parents, who did incredible work making 200 reusable tote bags, 260 fleece scarves, and 15 fleece blankets that will be donated to local shelters throughout Boston.
Together we made a difference, we sustained and invigorated a partnership, and we’ve introduced more members of our community to the ongoing work of caring for Boston’s most vulnerable, which we will invite them to continue to do with us.
Thank you to all of you who joined us for this day, including those from the Rashi School, Prozdor, Temple Beth Elohim Wellesley, ReachOut!, 384@Kehillath Israel, Temple Beth Shalom Melrose – as well as to all the volunteers who serve with us and City Mission throughout the year. Together we will continue to do for others as we act on Dr. King’s vision for a more just nation throughout the coming year.