A 'day on, not a day off' to honor Dr. King

Not only is Martin Luther King Jr. Day designated as a federal holiday, but also a national day of service, with volunteers holding projects across the country to honor his vision of a "Beloved Community"

Posted: Jan. 21, 2019 8:51 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - People recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day in many ways, including donating their time to serve others.

While legislation was signed in 1983 to mark the birthday to the Civil Rights leader a federal holiday, Congress designated the third Monday in January as a national day of service in 1994. The goal of the Day of Service, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, is "intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a 'Beloved Community.'"

Phyllis Masiker is no stranger to having volunteers come in to spend time with residents like herself at ABCM Corporation's Heritage Care and Rehabilitation Center.

"I value that very much because it's good for us people that are in here a lot to get with the people in the community."

She's playing cards with some volunteers and other residents as part of this day of service, in which RSVP of North Central Iowa organized a day of Caring Connections with 12 North Iowa nursing homes and care centers for volunteers to visit and participate in activities with residents.

Masiker hopes that more people follow Dr. King's lead.

"It's very nice of them to take time away from their daily things that they do to come in here and do something with us."

Paula Zimmerman has been a volunteer for around 40 years. Growing up in a small community, she learned the value of serving one another.

"I had a wonderful network of family and friends, and that's just how I grew up. You do things for one another."

She also hopes more people will do service work, not just for a day, but throughout the year to build bridges with those they may not know.

"Everyone has a story. So unless you take the time to get to know them, and give them the benefit of the doubt, you don't really understand maybe what things they're dealing with."

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