By Justin Borroto, City Year AmeriCorps Member

Every year, thousands of volunteers travel to different service sites across the country to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspired by Dr. King’s idea that “everybody can be great, because anybody can serve,” the third Monday of January has become a “day on” rather than a “day off” for many Americans.

This year, City Year Washington, DC was proud to engage almost 1,000 volunteers at three different schools in DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The morning started with a powerful welcome from Wendy Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, John Davis, Chief of Schools for DC Public Schools, and Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, DC.

The volunteers were then dispatched to three different schools: Center City Public Charter School, Eliot-Hine Middle School and Eastern Senior High School. Once the volunteers arrived, they were greeted by City Year AmeriCorps members and the work began quickly.

Throughout the day, volunteers and corps members alike displayed their passion and energy. It was clear that participants all shared the same enthusiasm for the work at hand. As volunteers built benches, assembled picnic tables, made sandwiches and painted murals, they acted with a spirit that could only be marked by honoring a man whose life works were dedicated to creating positive change.

In just one day, our volunteers showed the amazing things that can happen when the power of service is released. A total of 3,800 service hours led to the transformation of these three schools adding a value of $147,000 to Washington, DC.

In the days that followed, students were able to walk their halls with a renewed sense of pride in their schools. Rusheena Rush, member of the CSX Transportation Civic Engagement Team, helped plan the event. She was able to see the direct impact from her efforts and students’ faces light up as one remarked, “Man, this looks like a real gym now!”

Rusheena said she was proud to be involved in such an amazing day and “couldn't have dreamed of a better MLK Day.”

At City Year, we believe that national service is key to building our country’s future. We are dedicated to seeing Dr. King’s vision become a reality through our service. I was most inspired by seeing this vision play out during the day.

What I saw were people from every color and creed working together for the same mission: making our community better. When we celebrate the beauty of our differences and unite in a common purpose, there’s no telling what we can do.

Check out photos from the event

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