Human Rights Commission to promote volunteerism for MLK dayPublished 7:04am Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The Human Rights Commission is emphasizing local action for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.
The HRC’s annual MLK Jr. celebration will feature representatives from the Community Learning Center and various backpack programs throughout Austin this year to highlight local volunteerism.
“It’s just going to be a really great way for the people to learn about things and services that other organizations are doing,” said Jake Vela, executive director of the Welcome Center and HRC committee member.
Vela said the HRC wanted to concentrate on local activism after bringing in noted civil rights leaders and lecturers like James Kates and Naomi Tutu in recent years. To that end, the HRC decided to reach out to several organizations to learn more about the activities they do, like the CLC’s outreach to adults through Adult Basic Education courses at Austin Public Schools.
In addition, various backpack programs have garnered plenty of attention over the past two years. It all started when volunteers decided to gather school supplies and food for needy Sumner Elementary students in the fall and winter of 2011, which students would take home in backpacks over the weekends and on long holidays. Since then, the idea has spread to other schools, and several local churches have stepped up to donate and coordinate backpacks.
Yet the biggest honor of the MLK celebration will go to this year’s winner of the annual Austin Human Rights Award. The HRC gave out five awards in 2012 to recognize local volunteerism and civil rights coordination.
The event will take place 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the Frank W. Bridges Auditorium inside Riverland Community College.