“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
On the 25th Martin Luther King, Jr.’s National Day of Service, Oldfields is proud to say we honored his call to action by canceling classes, loading up the entire community on buses, and spending a rewarding day working alongside our neighbors in Baltimore City. We partnered with The 6th Branch, a pro-active organization that brings together service-minded veterans and civilians to volunteer in their local communities. One of their major initiatives is to provide vital community green space, something of which we have such a beautiful abundance on our campus, by cleaning up vacant lots and transforming them into areas for parks and urban gardens for local residents.
We were thankful for clear skies and bright sunshine as we boarded the buses early Monday morning in 20 degree temperatures. Upon arriving at the sites in downtown Baltimore near Johns Hopkins Hospital, the students were struck by the contrast in the neighborhood of renovated, modern row houses and high rise buildings with rows of boarded-up homes and abandoned buildings with the occasional vacant lot that has been used as a dumping ground for decades.
The organizer of the event asked a simple question, “Don’t the children in these surrounding houses deserve a clean, safe, green place to play?” And with that motivation, we spent the rest of the day cutting down chain link fences, clearing debris, and filling dumpsters. The girls learned how to lift with their legs, chop down trees, and swing a pick-axe. More importantly, they learned that many hands do truly make light work and felt the sense of accomplishment one gets through physical labor to complete a common goal. As always, they brought their own brand of fun to the task as you can see in the video. By the afternoon, our volunteers had made a huge difference in the appearance of the landscape and traveled back to campus with a sense of fulfillment and an increased appreciation for our circumstances.
However, our Day of Service was not yet complete. After warming up with hot chocolate, our girls finished the day by writing letters to members of the military, thanking them for their service. Additionally, some students wrote thank you notes to Oldfields’ trustees and donors--after all, days like this would not be possible without the generous support of people who embrace the mission of a school like Oldfields.
Thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful experience! A special shout out goes to Dean of Students Claire Guidera and the entire Program Team for having the vision to “up our game” by not just talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., but by honoring him with a real day of service. Our dearest hope is that this experience acts as a catalyst for more days of service both as a community and as individuals.
- MLK Day