City Year, a national organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed by deploying diverse teams of trained AmeriCorps members to high-need urban schools, mobilized over 200 community members for a day of service on Jan. 16, 2017 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Southport Park and surrounding downtown Orlando.  For City Year, Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is a day “on,” not a day off.

In a project sponsored by Wells Fargo and supported by City of Orlando’s programs Keep Orlando Beautiful, Green Up Orlando, and Green Works Orlando, City Year Orlando worked to “plant seedlings for civil rights.” They were joined by Full Sail Students, the Starbucks Coffee Company, and Traveler’s Insurance who patrolled for litter and cleaned up storm drains. City Year, Wells Fargo, and Timberland also planted trees, mulched, and set sod.

Jordan Plante, City Year Orlando vice president and executive director, captured the mood when she said, “We love seeing community members come together through service. Whether the tasks today are simple or complex, MLK Day is a special opportunity to build connection and make a difference together with the broader community. City Year is committed to building brighter futures for our students, and today is an inspiring complement to the service we love providing day-to-day in classrooms..”

Kate Wilson, Wells Fargo senior vice president and community affairs manager for Florida added, “For us, at Wells Fargo, caring for our customers and our communities is part of our culture. We value our local communities, the environment and the celebration of diversity, and that’s why this project was so special for our team. It was a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service, and it was a pleasure to do so alongside our City Year Orlando sponsored team at Judson B. Walker Middle.”

MLK Day is a day of hope. A day of community. It’s a day to remember all that we’ve learned, and can still learn, from Dr. King. It’s a day to reflect and ask ourselves how are we contributing to our beloved community. How do we practice ubuntu? In the face of challenges and adversity, it is easy to become downhearted and discouraged. But Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires us others to think about how we can create change, one connection, one interaction, one moment at a time. For it is through loving, connecting, building up, and supporting your neighbors that true progress is made.

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