By: AmeriCorps Leadership at Rural Action

January 15 is a day to honor the life and legacy of one of the most prolific civil rights leaders in most living Americans’ memories. He lives on in the spirit of service to your community, neighbors, friends, and family, staying strong in the face of injustice.

Thousands of people across the country gather together to honor MLK Jr.’s legacy and ideals. This year is extra special as the annual federal holiday being celebrated falls on his birthday, January 15. With this in mind, we wanted to give back and make this MLK Day a bit bigger of a celebration.

When meeting other programs at ServeOhio’s starting strong training, one thing that was expressed was the need for cross-site collaboration. With that in mind, Johna Metcalf started talking to other program managers. She met Philip Hutchison, one of the AmeriCorps administrators for the newly established Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s ‘Ohio Outdoor Corps (OOC)’.

Sharing a similar interest in history, Johna and Philip were able to connect and begin the journey of finding a community member who could benefit from the capacity and financial aid of a service day. Thanks to ServeOhio’s MLK Day grant, Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps (AORC) and OOC will be able to provide some lunch for volunteers, some PPE and most importantly – Porta Johns.

Johna finds it important to support and uplift communities of color, especially in the Ohio River Valley and Appalachian regions, as their history is often actively erased, people move away or elders are moving on.

“To be able to bring community members together to help maintain and learn about Tablertown is integral to our region’s history. It’s too often that historically Black areas are forgotten to time. Especially since they played such important parts as safe havens for freed and escaping enslaved Black peoples from slavery until the end of segregation and even after that,” Johna says.

Note: The MLK Day of Service has been postponed to Tuesday, Feb. 13 because of inclement weather. If you’re interested in volunteering, please sign up here.