Katrina E. Williams
On the morning of January 15, a group of volunteers including members of AmeriCorps, school district members, and community leaders came together under the leadership of City Year to complete 48 murals for a beautification project at Northeast High School.
The service event took place in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
“We work with school leaders to choose which inspirational quotes and historic images fit best for us to use in the murals,” said Jeff Shafer, Developmental Director for City Year Kansas City.
City Year is an education focused non-profit organization which places AmeriCorps members in positions as full-time tutors and mentors in schools, with the goal of keeping kids on track for graduation. The organization originated in 1988, and has programs nationwide in cities such as New Orleans, New York and Chicago. The Kansas City chapter began in 2015. Shafer said that the organization works with Northeast High School, Northeast Middle and other area public and charter schools.
More than 300 volunteers signed up for the event, and in spite of the cold weather, over 250 showed up. Indian Mound resident and neighborhood association vice president Manny Abarca joined the volunteers, keeping with a tradition of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Last year, he led a group of volunteers in various service tasks at Our Lady of Peace Church in the Sheffield neighborhood. This year, when he heard about AmeriCorps’ planned efforts, he couldn’t resist joining in.
“I think of this as a day on, not a day off,” Abarca said. “Even Kansas City’s Mayor Sly James stopped by to offer some words of inspiration.”