Volunteers working at MLK event

Vanguard celebrates MLK and Black History Month through service

In the U.S., crew members celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, legacy, and commitment to volunteerism by participating in community projects and activities throughout the winter. As Black History Month comes to an end, we have asked crew in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Arizona to reflect and share their personal experiences attending Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Service events. Here’s what they had to say:

For as long as I can remember, receiving quality education has been a priority in my household. I spent countless hours at my parents’ dining room table working on homework. Even now, my mom regularly tries to convince my 4-year-old son to work on spelling games at the same table. I feel very fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with the West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning (AFEL) to help instill this imperative into the children of that community. The organization has two main goals: kindergarten readiness and reading on grade level by the third grade. My colleagues and I were able to support these goals by preparing resource bags for use in classrooms and reading to some of the children from local schools. Beyond the crew that were able to attend, crew from across Vanguard donated over 250 books to help children build their home libraries.

The specific group that supported AFEL is the Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN), which is committed to increasing engagement of black crew members and supporting the increased representation of black crew in leadership positions. Having the opportunity to serve with aligned crew in a community that may produce the future of Vanguard leadership was truly a humbling experience.

— Josh C.

VBPN sponsored two MLK Days of Service events in North Carolina at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Classroom Central. Second Harvest is responsible for supplying food throughout a 19-county region of North and South Carolina through a network of over 700 emergency pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and programs for low-income children and seniors. Crew members took time out of their Saturday to help inspect and sort donated food items for distribution to those partner agencies. Classroom Central equips students in need by collecting and distributing free school supplies to their teachers. Eleven Vanguard crew members assisted the organization by die cutting shapes and organizing the overflow of school supplies in the warehouse.

— Ebony B. and Sabrina B.

As a North Caroline VBPN site lead, giving back is extremely important to me. It’s such a rewarding and humbling experience. I’ve been with Vanguard for 21 years and our commitment to our community has never wavered. It is an amazing differentiator, and providing Days of Service so crew can work together to help others is so empowering. As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month, this resonates with me even more. His commitment to service and helping others was powerful and a major driver in the movement. To be able to not only serve, but honor him and his sacrifice, is humbling. To me, this is what our purpose is about; loving and helping others, and extending your hand to pull others up. That is what service is really about.

— Kenya H.

I am a helper by nature and have enjoyed volunteering for many organizations and causes since childhood. I recently had the opportunity to coordinate an MLK Days of Service volunteer event on behalf of VBPN at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). FMSC is a non-profit organization that assists in providing rice, soy, dried vegetables, and vitamins and minerals to needy children locally and internationally. Through donations and the efforts of volunteers, FMSC is able to ensure the food is packaged and expedited to hungry kids. On the day of our volunteer event, I was immediately impressed with the FMSC staff. We were warmly greeted and provided with instructions to prepare us for the day.

I appreciated that the FMSC staff emphasized a hygienic environment to ensure the children were not exposed to germs, and we watched a video that included detailed instructions for each food prep station. The staff kept the event light by teaching us fun chants to say when each prep station was able to completely fill a box with food packages. The staff shared with the volunteers that it costs $88.00 to feed one needy child, ALL year! As a parent of two teenagers, that resonated with me. On average, it costs my family more than $88.00 per week in meals. During our volunteer session, we were able to fill 192 boxes with food packages, which will feed 113 children in Thailand and provide 41,472 meals!

When I volunteer, I feel that I benefit from the experience in so many ways. I get to share in the experience with fellow crew and members in our community that also volunteer their time. Volunteering helps me appreciate how fortunate we are and reminds me that by simply providing our time, we are making an impact. A thank you note I once received after donating my time included an impactful quote that sums up my volunteer journey:

“Help one another. There’s no time like the present
and no present like your tim
e.” —James Durst

— Veronica A.

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