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Above, MCLA students and local residents make blankets for those in need. View more photos from the 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service here.

MCLA, Local Community Give Back


It was a day “on” instead of a day off for more than 250 MCLA students and area residents who volunteered their time at the 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Each year, MCLA and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC) encourage the community to give back, in honor of Dr. King.

Held once again on campus and at more than 10 work sites throughout the Berkshires, the event included a variety of projects, including those at a nearby homeless shelter, a food pantry and the Adams Youth Center, as well as Habitat for Humanity and several area churches.

Among those to volunteer was Natalie Caney ’17 (pictured right, bottom left) of Belchertown, Mass. She and her teammates from the women’s soccer team gave the walls surrounding the YMCA’s swimming pool a fresh coat of paint.

It’s important to give back to the community, Caney said, “Because you never know who has given to you. All the work comes full circle, and it not only impacts you, but it impacts those in need.”

Johnathan Chery ’17 (top, left) of Brockton, Mass., and Kyle Maybury ’18 (top, right) of Gloucester, Mass., drove volunteers to and from the various work sites.

“Giving back to the community is something that is essential,” Chery said. “It helps to make this world a better place.”

Maybury, who also helped make blankets for those in need, added, “The students were very excited to help out, and it looked like they were having a great time. This is an activity our students look forward to because they love giving back.”

A first-time MLK Day participant, Maybury plans to participate again next year: “It was great interacting with people in the community.”

Samantha Hamilton ’18 (bottom, right) of New Ashford, Mass., particularly enjoyed the afternoon program, which included the presentation of the Annual Peacemaker Award, given posthumously to Berkshire County activist Dr. Don Quinn Kelley, who strove for greater tolerance, understanding, caring and a better quality of life for those in Berkshire County.

“Listening to the speeches of MLK Day is an important way to connect with my community and to stand in unity,” Hamilton said. “I felt more purposeful, and was reminded to stay strong in my hope for the better good of our country and how far we have come.” 

Falyn Rose Elhard ’18 (top, center) of Amherst, Mass., participated in a discussion on race and other forms of diversity, facilitated by the Northern Berkshires for Racial Justice group.

“We cannot learn from each other if we do not talk to each other,” Elhard said. “Discussion can serve as the platform through which disenfranchised and/or minoritized people can finally begin to be heard and acknowledged. There is power in words.”

According to Michael Obasohan ’11, interim assistant director of MCLA’s Multicultural Education Resource Center and Programming (right), his participation in this year’s event as a professional was as fulfilling as it was back when he was a student.

“It was great seeing professionals, students and community members giving back to their community,” he said.