Opinion

Focused on a vision

It would be praise enough to point out how the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Lynn is consistently marked by enthusiastic and energetic speakers and performers committed to celebrating King’s legacy.

But the greatest enduring tribute to the annual celebration held on Monday at the Porthole Restaurant comes from the broad spectrum of local and regional organizations participating in the breakfast and the event that parallels the breakfast every year — the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

The Lynn Museum, the Community Minority Cultural Center, and the Lynn Community Association played roles in the breakfast and the Day of Service with the Museum hosting the day’s event.

Jaime Figueroa, an emerging Lynn civic leader, talked about how King’s message, filtered through the Day of Service held in Lynn and other communities across the nation, is a way of  “… giving back to all walks of life.”

Mayor Thomas M. McGee defined the day’s message of celebration, praise and service by discussing his goal of overcoming societal divisions to bring people together. In many ways, McGee and Figueroa focused on the same theme Monday by stressing how tireless volunteer work can bring everyone in Lynn together to get into action, irrespective of income status, ethnicity, gender identification, or social status and age.

One of Lynn’s greatest qualities is its determination as a city to rally around those in need. Lynn residents demonstrated that quality last week when individuals and organizations and businesses came together to aid Broad Street residents left homeless by fire.

On Monday, Day of Service participants and celebrants of King’s birthday were not the only people locally heeding the civil rights leader’s call to action. The “Learn more, Earn more” initiative launched at City Hall focused on a simple equation that could change the lives of many Lynn residents: Learn more English and get a better job with higher pay.

The “Learn more, Earn more” kickoff brought together three agencies with proven track records: Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), a Boston vocational aid resource; Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development and Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO). They are combining forces on English for Advancement. The initiative plans to serve 100 adult learners in Lynn this year.

With 20 percent of the city’s residents living at or below poverty levels and almost half of Lynn residents speaking a language other than English, according to LEO Chief Executive Officer Birgitta Damon, there is plenty of work to do.

The powerhouses behind English for Advancement will ensure the initiative makes a significant impact on bettering the lives of Lynn residents. The central message defining McGee’s fledgling administration — together we can be better — will also help fuel English for Advancement on a path to success.

King fulfilled his role as America’s great dreamer by challenging people to cast off fear and hatred and join hands to harness a tremendous force for good. Like all amazing visionaries, King saw clearly what others can barely imagine. But almost 50 years after his death, people in Lynn are committed to bringing his vision into focus.

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