Making a Difference on MLK Jr.’s Day
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Giving Back - Eaton Rapids youths spent the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday volunteering.
Photo by Harold Pope 
LANSING, MI -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream about evoking change through service to our fellow man and positive determination.  These are the basic principles that Lunch with a Purpose and New World Flood were founded upon. 
Lunch with a Purpose volunteers each week for a different community organization. Whether it's cooking food or folding bed sheets, a lot of people with a little time make a huge difference. Each week Lunch with a Purpose continues to grow by asking individuals and companies to share their time and talents bettering the community. 
New World Flood was started at Olivet College also to provide community service.
Both groups wanted to  honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy on  January 16, 2012 and keep the movement going because they feel there is still much to be done.  Lunch with a Purpose encouraged groups and individuals to go out into the community that serves them and be of service to someone in some way. 
A  Lunch with a Purpose group started at Eaton Rapids High School, had  15 youth who chose to spend their day off from school with one of their teachers, Eric Frohriep.  They volunteered at Country Acres, a local senior care center.  The youths played games and visited with residents who were pleasantly surprised to have the company and appreciated their kind hearts.  Beyond the service, the volunteers also wanted to focus on empowering people, especially youth, to continue efforts to support the communities they live in and to believe that they can accomplish anything. 
The students took a bus from the senior center to the Capitol and then travelled to the Radisson hotel  for a reception that included others from the community of all ages.  After a short video highlighting  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., former NFL player, Todd "TJ" Duckett, spoke to the audience about finding and truly living their purpose and understanding the value and potential within everyone.  He also stressed the importance of doing the right thing, which may certainly not always be the most popular thing.  The audience was invited to share what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and/or his work has meant in their lives and what dreams they have for themselves.  
A young man from Eaton Rapids commented on how he still participates in their Lunch with a Purpose group and helped plan their service project even though he is no longer attending school there.  He shared that he gives blood every eight weeks without fail and tried each day that he was in school to go out of his way to be friends with everyone.  He admitted that this may not be the impression that most people seem to get by looking at him, but he does not let it affect his heart and motivation.  
Another incredible young woman told the group that she had recently come upon some hard times and was living in a homeless shelter but her dream was to help other minority girls like herself.  Even though she has life challenges, she volunteers regularly at the Ronald McDonald House and has also joined a women's group to learn leadership skills.  
Finally the youngest girl who is in third grade went to the microphone and said she just had her first experience volunteering. She and her mother spent the afternoon organizing hundreds of books and cleaning at the Village Summit community center.  She mentioned that  it "just felt right".  
Before the night was through the third grader asked for information and phone numbers to include in a letter she wanted to write her teacher.  She stated that she would ask her teacher if she could tell her class about what she had done and how they too could help.  
The mutual inspiration and uplifting experience of the event will not soon be forgotten by all of those in attendance.   The wisdom and example of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has shown many that the first step to bringing about real change to our communities, state, country and world is to care about the people within. The second is positive determination.  
Sara Griffon, cultivator of Lunch with a Purpose, said, "Giving back teaches us to appreciate the gifts that we have and find the joy in creating opportunities for others to do the same."
The group plans on highlighting appreciating others during their 'I Have a Dream Too' campaign for Black History Month as well.
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This was printed in the January 29, 2012 - February 11, 2012 Edition

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