City employees honor King through service

City employees honor King through service
January 19
03:45 2017

Photo by Todd Luck

Carly Dunno (front) volunteers at the Diaper Bank with other city employees for the city’s  Martin Luther King Jr. Helping Hands Day.



Bundling diapers for distribution, preparing healthy meals for children and restoring a historic African-American cemetery were just some of the volunteer projects done by city workers during the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Helping Hands Day.

Held on the Friday before the King holiday, it let city employees volunteer for two hours at one of 13 local organizations. About 200 employees participated. The event was conceived by Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke as an active way for the city to give back for the King holiday, which is a national day of service.

City employees helped clear out weeds at Happy Hill Cemetery, a historic African-American cemetery that had fallen into disrepair. Darren Redfield, who works in the city’s purchasing department, said he volunteered to help because he’d never seen the cemetery, which is at the corner of Willow and Pitts streets.

“It provides a good opportunity to see a little corner of history,” he said.

The cleanup efforts, began by Maurice Pitts Johnson, who has family buried there, have made progress over the years. Rising Ebenezer Baptist Church which already mows the cleared part of the cemetery, will be taking over the unclaimed property thanks to help from the Wake Forest Community and Business Law Clinic. Pitts Johnson said that the regular volunteer cleanups, held at 9:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, still continue and are constantly in need of volunteers. She said she was grateful for the help from the city.

“They’re really working. It means so much,” she said.

At the same time, city employees were preparing and repacking food at H.O.P.E.(Help Our People Eat) of Winston-Salem. They were preparing things like barbecue chicken and fruit that would feed children on Sunday. H.O.P.E. hands out healthy bag lunches to children in the city’s food deserts every Sunday from its colorful, musical trucks.

H.O.P.E. uses donated food and volunteers to accomplish this.

“We rely on volunteers to collect, make and hand out the lunches,” said Mary Law, H.O.P.E.’s operations manager. “We also hand out around one to two thousand pounds of produce every week and frequently, because it’s food deserts, for some people it’s their only source of fresh produce.”

Another group of city volunteers spent the morning wrapping bundles of diapers that’ll be distributed to local families at the Diaper Bank of the Greater Triad.   The local chapter of the Diaper Bank of North Carolina distributes 55,000 diapers a month to low income families in seven counties. In Winston-Salem, diapers are distributed through family support organizations like the Shalom Project, Today’s Woman clinic and the county health department’s Nurse-Family Partnership.

Local Diaper Bank Director Elizabeth Thomas said though diapers are a constant and expensive necessity, there are no government programs to help low income families pay for them.

“You’re helping with a basic human need,” she told volunteers.

Diaper Bank is also dependent on volunteers to get its work done. City sanitation employee Carly Dunno said she decided to volunteer  there because, with two young children at home, she knows how needed diapers are.

“I’m glad to be helping out in the community in any small way,” she said.

Other organizations city employees volunteered at where Crisis Control Ministry, Dress for Success, Forsyth Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, Sawtooth Center for Visual Art, Second Harvest Food Bank, Senior Services, Sunnyside Ministry, The Shepherd’s Center, and The Arts Council.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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