Ralph Holcomb | AmeriCorps VISTA | 1/24/2020
During this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Opportunity Santa Fe VISTAs chose to make it a “day on” rather than taking a day off. Instead of working at desks, we joined Habitat for Humanity and their AmeriCorps National volunteers to make some much-needed construction improvements to Santa Fe’s Sojourners Café. Sojourners is a safe haven and resource center for women and children experiencing homelessness.
The dust flew and power drivers hummed as a group of volunteers demolished walls to create space for a client food bank. VISTAs who normally attend meetings and take minutes donned hardhats and safety glasses to eagerly smash drywall and dismantle 2×4 studs and joists.
Other groups of volunteers climbed scaffolding and tore out fluorescent lights under the supervision of a volunteer electrician. The old fixtures were energy hogs and needed to be replaced with low-energy LED lights.
A third group sawed through an office wall to create an opening for a large window. The new window provided much-needed light and a welcoming feel to what had been an office “closet.”
Periodically our construction leader would announce “Break-time!” and convene the group to read and talk about the person being honored that day: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Folks read some favorite passages from a book on King, which gave all of us an opportunity to reflect and share our thoughts about this important civil rights leader.
Altogether, OSF VISTAs found it rewarding to trade computers for hammers, work side-by-side with Habitat for Humanity, and learn how Sojourners has reached out to serve women and children in need of food, housing, advocacy services, education, and integration into the community. What a great way to celebrate a great man!