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Harvey B. Gantt Center to honor MLK with a Year of Service initiative

The Harvey B. Gantt Center honors MLK Day on Monday with the start of their 'Year of Service' initiative.
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The Harvey B. Gantt Center honors MLK Day on Monday with the start of its Year of Service initiative.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture will kickstart its Year of Service initiative on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, as a way to commemorate the civil rights icon.

MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service, where people are encouraged to volunteer their time to support others.

The center has partnered with 13 local organizations to provide opportunities to participate in year-long service projects. They include groups focused on human services and the arts.

“We want to make sure that on MLK Day, we are highlighting the importance of community service and showing support and solidarity with local organizations who are working to further the dream and the mission of Reverend Dr. King,” said Afeni Grace, the Gantt's public programs manager.

People can volunteer with organizations like Families Forward Charlotte. The nonprofit mostly serves African American single mothers experiencing poverty and empowers them through education and financial support.

Carrie Christian, the director of Families Forward Charlotte, said volunteers who sign up are trained to become mentors.

“The family liaison mentor meets with them at least once a month, face-to-face, and then touches base on a weekly basis, checking in on how the goals they have set are going, what support they need along the way," Christian said. "Maybe they can help connect them with resources, and really being a cheerleader in that support system to them.”

Most groups will be at the Harvey B. Gantt Center at different times throughout the day on Monday for people to get to know them and sign up.

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Elvis Menayese is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race and equity for WFAE. He previously was a member of the Queens University News Service. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.