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Virtual, in-person events slated for Dream Week

In celebration of the iconic civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would turn 93 on Saturday, Dream Week is returning once again to the Williamsport area from Jan. 16 through 22.

Dream Week and its organizers, including United Churches of Lycoming County, Beloved Community Council, and both Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, aim to educate and bring community members together to see other ponts of view.

“‘Social change can be achieved through information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action and reconciliation,'” said Tammey Aichner, executive director of United Churches of Lycoming County, quoting the late reverend.

This year’s festivities are set to kick off with a peace walk on Monday, starting at 10:45 a.m. at Christ Community Worship Center, 436 W. Fourth St., Williamsport. A staple of Dream Week activities since they first began nearly a decade ago, the walk spans a total of 1.6 miles and will begin and end at Christ Community Worship Center. Speakers, including Pastor Marwin Reeves, at different locations along the route will read passages from King’s “Letters from Birmingham.”

Also on Monday, Dr. Drew G.I. Hart will give a presentation at 7 p.m. in the Penn College Academic Center auditorium. A professor at Messiah College as well as a pastor, Hart has risen to prominence as a leader in the fight against racism. His presentation will focus on the topic of “Has the Dream Been Realized?” and also will be live-streamed via Zoom.

“Our theme, ‘Has the Dream been Realized,’ will be just that. If anyone has seen Pastor Hart speak, they know that he just tries to create awareness…that there are other opinions out there — that there are other viewpoints and that each of us has walked our own path, and that then turns up into who we are, how we view things and the decisions we make,” said Aichner.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of Dream Week, community members are encouraged to donate blood to the Red Cross at Penn College. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Dream Week also offers a virtual instructional simulation hosted on Zoom by the organization “Bread for the World.” Billed as a “racial wealth gap learning simulation,”

Aichner describes the simulation as “a virtual workshop on the racial wealth gap and how it relates specifically to food insecurity.” There will be two sessions to accommodate those interested — one from noon to 2:30 p.m. and the next from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

“Some of the things that she will talk about towards the end are how we can take what we learn in that two and half hour workshop and then make it applicable to our lives, specifically legislation wise… and then she will invite anyone who is interested back for another workshop in a couple of weeks to talk about how they can influence legislation, how they can make phone calls, how they can write a letter to any of our government representatives,” Aichner said.

All throughout the week, a donation drive seeks to support local organizations Dwell Orphan Care and Firetree Place. Items needed include children’s toys, art supplies, socks and underwear, cold weather attire and more.

“If we stay just in our little circle, we are never going to be stretched and we are never going to see growth,” Aichner said. “We cannot have change in our community if we don’t want to have that awareness that change needs to happen, and that all comes from gathering information. So, the more we are exposed to those types of opportunities, like that workshop on Wednesday, the more we are exposed to those types of things and get out of our own comfort circle, the more we are going to be able to start to see that real change.”

For specific details on the donation drive, or for more information and updates on Dream Week, visit the event page MLK Dream Week 2022 on Facebook.

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