It is no secret that many groups throughout the United States experience injustice. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the spirit of his commitment to social justice and racial equity, King County organizations rally volunteers to carry out MLK service day projects on MLK day. Every year, the United Way of King County offers MLK service day grants in the amount of $250-$500 to support this great work.
But why are MLK day service day projects so important? MLK service day projects are an opportunity for volunteers to join together to combat injustice in King County. The injustices of homelessness, education inequity, and financial instability is over represented in communities of color. In 2018, the majority of individuals (52%) experiencing homelessness in Seattle/King County identify as people of color. The MLK service day projects are one way to bring attention to racial inequity and bring positive change.
To help review these grant proposals, 25 Emerging Leaders came together at a Connect for Good opportunity to discuss racial equity in King County. They learned about fundraising practices and reviewed service grants. More importantly, the review team volunteers gained a better understanding of how diversity and inclusivity are at the center of United Way’s mission.
For some Emerging Leaders, this experience was more than just dedicating time.
“As a woman of color, racial and social justice has always been extremely important to me,” said Tiffany Go with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to come together and be exposed to the amazing work these organizations do. I knew this higher level of engagement would interest a friend of mine who is also passionate about racial equity.” Tiffany invited Star Dormanesh, a Project Manager from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, to the MLK Service Day Grant Review Team. Star stated “As a child of refugees, just being able to participate in community decision making that can positively impact communities of color, is a reflection of the legacy MLK had for us.”
Reviewing the MLK day service projects has inspired our young professionals to get involved. The Emerging Leaders will join thousands of volunteers on the MLK Day of Service in January 2019 to make King County a more equitable place for everyone.
Our new Connect for Good opportunities will open shortly. Meanwhile, check out the Emerging Leaders calendar for other volunteering opportunities and events — including the Unjust Housing: Racism in Homelessness panel happening at the Northwest African American Museum on January 24.