PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) talks to Josh Blas, a junior at Classical High School at Washington Street Baptist Church in Lynn.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — Several hundred volunteers in Lynn answered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s challenge. He once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) was among the volunteers who gathered at the Washington Street Baptist Church on Monday for the sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, organized by the Lynn Community Association.
Service projects included making paracord bracelets for the military, Valentine’s Day cards for senior citizens, toiletry bags for the homeless, MLK bookmarks for the Lynn Public Library, serving lunch and dinner at My Brother’s Table, and a basketball clinic at the Lynn YMCA, according to Joshua Goodwin, president of Lynn Community Association.
Moulton told a crowded room of volunteers that he joined the U.S. Marine Corps because he felt he hadn’t done much to give back, as he hadn’t been a regular participant in community service. When he went into the Marines, which included serving during the Iraq War, he said he saw what it meant to make a difference in people’s lives. The impact stayed with him after he left the armed forces. He didn’t miss the war, but he missed the public service.
“That’s why I got into politics, into another job of public service,” he said. “And that’s why I remind my team all the time to never forget that we are here to be public servants for all of you. And so that’s why it’s an honor for me to be with you here today and to try to live up to that other thing Martin Luther King said, which is that everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
Wander Deoleo, 19, a volunteer from The Food Project, spoke to the room about King’s legacy. He said King is known as a leader of the civil rights movement, but he did so much more than that.
“He spoke about socioeconomic inequities, the Vietnam War and racial injustices in America,” Deoleo said. “He followed Gandhi’s beliefs and also spread his beliefs about love, peace and acceptance. He created speeches that promoted change in society without violence. He gave back to the community and without a doubt, he fought for what was right.”
Cyriah Thomas, 16, a volunteer with The Food Project, said the day was about showing appreciation for King.
“He was a man who spoke great truths about the brutal world we still happen to live in today,” Thomas said. “Through his deep and heartfelt messages, he helped convey the belief that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Through the work that all of you guys are doing today, you guys are helping spread that message, even if it’s working with One Team, One Dream at the Y, working at My Brother’s Table, making paracord bracelets or anything else that we have planned here today.
“Dr. King once said we may all have come from different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now, which shows that all of us come from different walks of life, but today, we all decided to emerge together to work towards the same end goal, which is to ultimately keep moving forward, making progress and living out Dr. King’s legacy,” she continued.
Korintha Tongo, 18, a student at Lynn Classical High School, said her table was packaging wildflowers. She wanted to get involved because “Martin Luther King Day is basically giving back to the community so I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Yeatoe Bonwin, 8, of Lynn, said she was looking forward to helping people.
Allie Armour, 23, works for the North Shore AmeriCorps Program, and was making valentines. She said she feels community service is important.
“I’ve been part of the Lynn community for six months or so and it’s a good opportunity to give back,” Armour said.
Chrisneiris DiFo, 16, of Lynn, was making paracord survival bracelets. She said giving back is what the troops do, and the day of service gives her a chance to do so as well.
Christine Stowe, of Lynn, was creating educational booklets on King. She said the purpose was to distribute the packets to kids, which centered around his life and movement. She said her church, the International Church of Christ, does the service every year. But she doesn’t think giving back should be confined to special occasions.
“I think it’s important to serve every day,” she said.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.