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Commonpoint Queens Reimagines MLK Day of Service

mlk deliveries shrimad rajchandra

This year’s 2021 MLK Day of Service will be remembered as one that demonstrated the resilience and generosity of our community under extraordinary circumstances. While Commonpoint Queens’ MLK Day of Service typically features hundreds of volunteers on-site, the COVID-19 pandemic forced our community to innovate. Read below to recap some of the day’s memorable highlights:

Our MLK Day of Service actually kicked off on Sunday, January 17th, when a group from the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission of Queens came to assemble 300 care packages for distribution the next day. The group of 35, which was split into two to reduce the risk of spreading COVID, assembled the 300 care packages in less than two hours.

MLK Day itself started off spectacularly. The New York Blood Center arrived at 8:00am to set-up for their blood drive, which, thanks to 35 extremely selfless donors, obtained enough blood to save approximately 100 lives. Around 9:15am, volunteers began arriving to prepare meal packages to distribution to 280 of our hungry neighbors. Our dozen volunteer food delivery package assemblers put together the 280 meals in less than one hour. Simultaneously, delivery groups began arriving on-site, at which point the assembly volunteers helped the drivers load up their cars.

By 12:30pm, all the deliveries were complete. Recipients of the deliveries were also given the opportunity to serve. In each package was an envelope and for recipients to send letters to the students of our Learning Bridges Program. To date, several beautiful letters have been mailed back to the Sam Field Center.

As the day transitioned to the virtual setting, we hosted a lively class and discussion on the unbreakable link between character and effective leadership. Volunteers young and elderly joined the conversation and shared their wisdom. MLK once said that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and if anything, this discussion reaffirmed this notion.

Next, volunteers from New York and around the country convened over Zoom to learn about Commonpoint Queens’ plethora of volunteer opportunities.

After a short break, volunteers and clients joined together to raise their voices with songs of freedom and equality in a remote sing-a-long with the extremely talented and jovial music therapist Levin Valayil, who Zoomed-in all the way from Texas.

Finally, the day concluded with an extremely moving and inspirational panel discussion on service leadership featuring Kevin LivingstonSam Vaghar, and Jason Sole. Joined and moderated by our very own Director of Business Development, Denia Tavarez, the panelists shared memorable anecdotes and lessons from their own lives and work.

While the day was over, its immediate impact was not yet. Throughout the day, dozens of volunteers stopped by the Sam Field Center and Central Queens to drop off letters to front-line workers. On Wednesday, January 27th, we donated these hundreds of letters to the brave front-line workers at St. Francis Hospital and FDNY Ladder 152