Edison Middle School receives facelift during day of service

imageAn estimated 1,000 volunteers gathered at Thomas A. Edison Middle School to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in City Year Los Angeles’ day of service.

The hallways of Thomas A. Edison Middle School were lined with volunteers wearing white t-shirts and singing and laughing as they worked. Each person was hard at work with paintbrushes in one hand and paint buckets in another, paying meticulous attention to painting inside the lines.

“I’m here to make a difference,” Jamie Cabrera, a student volunteer said. “You hear it a lot, but I really do want to help. Painting a couple of things doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m sure the people at this school are going to be thankful for it. When they painted my school, I thought it was cool because I thought people really do care.”

Similar scenes could be seen across the school’s campus.

Volunteers were broken up into about thirty teams and were responsible for painting different scenes in different areas throughout the school. The largest indoor project was the painting of the portraits of all the United States presidents on both sides of the halls. Student volunteers were hard at work painting college logos to be put up around campus. Teams of outdoor volunteers painted different murals of musical notes, geometric shapes, sports symbols, and Thomas A. Edison Middle School’s logo.

Watch a slideshow of photographs from the event:

City Year corps members said it was extra-memorable serving on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

City Year’s Los Angeles branch launched in 2007 and has recorded 552,500 hours of service to the Los Angeles community. It is the fourth year City Year Los Angeles is participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service.

“The significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, particularly for our organization, is something we really cherish, said Daniel Foley,the Program Manager at Gompers Middle School in Watts/South LA.

“Our organization is based solely on the diversity of young people coming together from different backgrounds and different places and on Martin Luther King Day, the day that celebrates our country coming together and trying to unify itself as one, its very clear to us why we serve.”

City Year is a non-profit organization devoted to service in schools and around the community. It seeks to help students stay in school and stay on track to graduate.

imageThe bigger message is that of “community.” Building, creating, and connecting a community, a message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also preached.

“He spoke a lot about creating the beloved community,” Sarah Bouchereau, a City Year corps member said, “and the idea that everyone can serve.

“And everyone can be great because they can serve. So we do this on this day on all of our sites across the country to commemorate his word. It means a lot, I feel like I’m part of something larger.”

Monday’s event also marked the beginning of City Year Los Angeles’ Heroes Program. One hundred middle school and 100 high school students kicked off their six-month participation in service to the community.

“It’s special for us to have our opening day on Martin Luther King Day,” Alexis Hernandez, a student volunteer said. “Because we are his dream that he had, we’re fulfilling his dream.”

Many of the City Year corps members were inspired by the turn out at this year’s service day. They hope that their program will make a difference in rallying a community behind its youth to increase the high school graduation rate.

“I grew up in similar communities,” Mario Fedelin, Program Director of City Year Los Angeles said. “And I know and understand what it’s like to go to a school that doesn’t have. I know what it’s like to be in a community where everyone isn’t connected.

“I think for me, personally, to be a part of a group like this keeps me going. It gives me hope that our young people are part of the solution not always part of the problem.”


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