Martin Luther King Jr. Day events planned for area

Local organizations and churches have service opportunities and commemorative services planned this coming weekend to mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The MLK Jr. Walk will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Campbell Street and Memorial Avenue. Walkers will go a bit under a mile to the Lycoming College Recreation Center, 700 College Place, where AmeriCorps and STEP Inc. are coordinating the MLK Day of Service project.

“Volunteers will come together and assemble family packs, 600 is the goal, and they’ll be distributed to all the sixth-graders in the Williamsport Area School District,” said Vanessa Hunter, of the YWCA.

Volunteers will be served a complementary lunch at noon. Following lunch, speakers from AmeriCorps, Leadership Lycoming and Lycoming College, as well as State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, will offer remarks on the significance of service. Musicians from the Uptown Music Collective will perform at 1 p.m.

“If families come and want to do the service project, kids can play within eyeshot – we’ll have face painting and coloring and crafts and things like that,” said Daryl Kern, AmeriCorps program director.

On Sunday, children from the Campbell Street Center’s after-school program will conduct a special service at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 844 W. Fourth St., consisting of songs and reflections on the “I Have A Dream” speech. Cookies and coffee will follow the public event.

Also on Sunday, at 5 p.m., the Freedom House Community Worship Center, 1700 Memorial Ave., will host a program titled “Upgrading the Work to Fulfill the Dream.”

“We’ll have local speakers, local directors of outreach and ministries come and speak about the work they’re doing to fulfill the dream,” said Joann Walker. “Everyone is invited.”

On Monday, Pennsylvania College of Techlology Student Activities will sponsor an inauguration luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Penn’s Inn in the Bush Campus Center, 1 College Ave.

A community conversation based on the “world cafe” model titled “Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You” will be held at at 6 p.m. Monday evening, also at Penn’s Inn.

“It will be cafe-style, comfortable and relaxing for the participants,” said Hunter, one of the facilitators. “It’s not like a free-for-all it’s not a debate, it’s a conversation; it’s really about promoting respect, awareness, and understanding.”

This year’s MLK Jr. Day events should serve as a launching point for an ongoing number of events and discussions related to the Day of Service model.

“We’re forming a group called the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration committee and we’re hoping to involve more people than are currently involved,” said Susan Mathias, of the YWCA. “Lycoming College, Penn College, the YWCA and the NAACP are involved now – we want to have a civil conversation locally.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day officially is commemorated on Jan. 21 as a federal holiday. All state Department of Transportation offices will be closed.