On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, both our young people and coworkers spent time reflecting on the work of Dr. King and participating in service projects and educational opportunities to honor him.

A growing tradition on the holiday is to participate in service projects, which many of our young men did. Among them was a group of our boys and coworkers who volunteered at William H. Brown Stem Magnet School in Chicago.

Volunteers at the school organized books in the library and computer room, painted murals, and removed trash and unwanted items from outside the school. The Mercy Home contingent joined other volunteers for an introduction of school staff, followed by a motivational speech on why giving back is crucial for the community. During this time, volunteers lined up for pizza and refreshments while being directed to their assigned task.

Our boys spent three and a half hours painting the hallways at the school. They had a great time listening to music and dancing while they painted!

At the end of the day, all volunteers were entered in a raffle, in which our boys won a basketball and Chicago Bulls tickets.

Meanwhile, at our girls campus, our young ladies spent the day reflecting on some inspirational quotes from Dr. King that they can use in their daily lives.

They posted the quotes around their program space, and identified other African-American people, both current and historical, who inspire them. The girls wrote a short blurb about why they each inspired by them and made a confetti portrait, which they posted in their living space.

To finish out the day, the girls took the opportunity to decorate program with decorations for Black History Month, which begins in February.

A little later in the week, our MercyWorks AmeriCorps members learned more about public and supportive housing in Chicago.

Their morning started at the Newberry Library where they met with the Vice President of Research and Academic Programs, Brad Hunt, who gave them an overview of the history of public housing in Chicago. They also watched the documentary “70 Acres in Chicago,” followed by a lunch and Q&A with the documentarian Ronit Bezalel and participant Raymond ‘Shaq’ McDonald.

The group visited two different service sites through Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.), where they prepared dinner for their residents and enjoyed a meal with them.

We are proud of all our kids and coworkers who took time to serve others and reflect on ways they can make a difference in their community!