Celebrating the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has new meaning for Tucson and Tucsonans. It has become a day of service to the community.
The slain civil rights leader's holiday, commemorating his life of service, is Monday.
The city of Tucson and the Pima County Board of Supervisors are joining the federal government and many municipalities around the country proclaiming the day Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said it is important to pay reverence to Doctor King by acting in a similar fashion to how he lived.
“One of the things Dr. King stood for was to be active as a community member and to have your voice heard," Rothschild said. "Essentially, that was required of him in his day, to accomplish what needed to be accomplished.”
**A list of organizations and events that participating in the day of service can be seen at www.news.azpm.org.
Many groups will be at the “Day On, Not a Day Off” MLKK Day Volunteer Fair, hosted by Americorps’ Volunteers in Service to America Team, knoiwn to most as VISTA.
Americorps is a federal program that places adults in community service and Vanessa Silverstein, leader of the local VISTA team, said the fair is designed to reach an expanse of the Tucson community.
“We have 20 different nonprofits that work on a variety of issues, including our community," Silverstein said. "Each non-profit will be hosting a service project at the fair, and they will also be providing information about volunteering for their organization year-round.”
Rothschild and U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., will present opening remarks for “Day On, Not a Day off” at 11 a.m. Monday. The event will run until two-o’clock at the Girl Scouts of America’s Headquarters on East Broadway.
VISTA planned the day as a way to get the most out of those looking to find a place they can help their community.
Silverstein said she hopes the event is more a display for all the ways people can help.
“We would love for this event to be a launching pad to get people excited about volunteering and recognizing need in their community so they can use this day as motivation for them serving throughout the year,” she said.
The VISTA team is doing more than organizing people to get involved; it also has volunteer projects in the community. They include a beautification project in the city’s Coronado Heights Neighborhood and a public park cleanup at northwest Tucson’s Arthur Pack Park.
Pima Community College’s Americorps program and Student Leadership Council are heading to Strauss Manor, a senior living community in east Tucson, for their day of service.
Mary Ann Phininzy, program coordinator for Pima College’s Americorps program, said her group is celebrating the day by helping the elderly and learning about MLK's era.
“What we hope to accomplish is to really look at what the era was like, in Tucson during the civil rights era," Phinizy said. "What did it look like in Tucson in that era? Who better to tell us that story than our own seniors, the people who lived during that time?”
She also offers encouragement to those who are deciding what to do on Monday.
“Participate, see what’s out there," she said. "See what’s in your community and learn from those who are out here, and work side by side with us.”