One organization has continued to put the word ‘unity’ into ‘community’, especially on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
On Monday, January 19, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, over 300 City Year New York members took a trip to P.S. 55, located on St. Paul’s Place between Park and Washington avenues, to service the school.
Accompanied by 600 volunteers, City Year members donated their time and efforts to beautify the school by building benches and bookshelves for classrooms and painting murals on hallway walls.
City Year, a national education non-profit founded in Boston 1988, serves 25 cities nationwide, and came to New York in 2002, when they deployed teams of AmeriCorps to serve in the Bronx yearly.
City Year has served many Bronx schools over the years such as P.S. 48 Joseph R. Drake School, P.S. 75, M.S. 302 Luisa Dessus Cruz School, P.S. 130 Abram Stevens Hewitt School, P.S. 154 Jonathan D. Hyatt School, C.I.S. X303 Leadership & Community Service School and 24X Bronx Early College Academy.
Each floor of P.S. 55, also known as the Benjamin Franklin School, was given a different mural theme.
The second floor was dedicated to rain forests paintings, while the third floor was split into two sections of paintings – the history of hip hip and the history of the Bronx, the latter of which included a map of the entire Bronx and a portrait of Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
City Year members on the first floor helped children write letters, draw pictures and make welcome back sandwiches for our troops and veterans.
In addition, City Year New York also hosted a Community Resource Fair, providing an opportunity to residents of the Morrisania community to meet local agencies and organizations to learn more about the specific services that these groups provide to residents and families daily.
The fair included free tax prep, health screenings, a kids’ zone as well as healthy snacks and giveaways.
“This holiday signifies a positive opportunity for City Year and its accompanied volunteers to work on many different projects together and help with the challenges currently taking place in New York as well as the entire United States,” said Erica Hamilton, executive director of City Year.
“Our AmeriCorps members, as well as those who volunteer with us on this special day, are living proof there are many people in our society who do care about these issues and want to make an impact and carry on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of serving.”, she added.
“City Year has a big impact on schools and communities all over the country, putting huge but equal emphasis on each of it’s projects,” said AmeriCorps member Krystina Alphonso, a Bronx resident who is also a coach, mentor and tutor at P.S. 55.
According to children at the event, the day was much better spent giving back to the community rather than staying home from school.
“We are happy that the community is thankful, but (the students) are also thankful to be in a position to help the people that need it,” said Mia Bradley-Hannibal, a P.S. 55 student and a member of the school’s Bengal Tiger step team, about donating her time.
“I would do this every single day if I could,” she said.