Photos by Nystasha Kelly of Complexion Photography
May we all continue to be the change that we wish to see in the world.
For if we have the opportunity to create positive change in someone's life that will impact them for the better, we can then say that we have lived a good life by serving others, just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did for us all.
-- Jeremy A. Lannan, National Vice President for Women's and Fair Practices Departments American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
As part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) national convention in Montgomery, Alabama, 50 members honored the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Remembrance by volunteering with Women in Training, Inc. (WIT) on January 13, 2024. The AFL-CIO is a voluntary federation of 60 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working people.
HandsOn River Region, a Montgomery volunteer mobilization organization, connected AFL-CIO with WIT to help the menstrual equity organization prepare for the Second Annual MLK Birthday Bash and Family Fun Day on January 15, 2024, at the Historic Centennial Hill. Rev. Dr. King lived in the Centennial Hill neighborhood when he pastored Dexter Avenue Baptist Church from 1954 to 1960.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?' HandsOn River Region strives to mirror Dr. King's message within the River Region by building nonprofit capacity through volunteerism," said Tasha Cooper, Executive Director, HandsOn River Region. "Worthy missions like Women In Training’s mission to 'End Poverty. PERIOD!' could only be fulfilled with the assistance of selfless volunteers like the ones from AFL-CIO.”
"Dr. King is surely looking down and smiling at the unity -- and joy -- we displayed in celebating his 95th birthday in the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights Movement," said Ms. Adeyela Bennett, President and Chief Engagement Officer, Women in Training, Inc.
"Labor leader, Mr. A. Philiph Randolph, and AFL-CIO members played a vital role in desegregating the University of Alabama in 1963, and directing the 1963 March on Washington, so it is fitting that we work together in this historic city to joyfully provide service for the Beloved Community," Ms. Bennett continued.
AFL-CIO volunteers cleaned the three-story Montgomery Public Schools building that houses WIT operations, rearranged furniture and inventoried supplies. They also packed almost 200 #WITKITS of menstrual, dental and hygiene supplies that JustServe and WIT volunteers distributed at the MLK Birthday Bash on the King holiday.
"Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of the Beloved Community is the foundation of our founders' vision to End Poverty. PERIOD!" Ms. Bennett said. "At age 12, Breanna and Brooke felt a spiritual obligation to help every human being have plenty of nutritious and delicious food, secure and spacious housing, excellent healthcare, global education ... and a bounty of period products and reproductive education!"
Jeremy A. Lannan, National Vice President for Women's and Fair Practices Departments, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), supports Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of the Beloved Community.
"May we all continue to be the change that we wish to see in the world," Mr. Lannan said. "For if we have the opportunity to create positive change in someone's life that will impact them for the better, we can then say that we have lived a good life by serving others, just as MLK, Jr. did for us all."
Elizabeth Johnson Sellers, Women in Training, Inc. Board Secretary and Communications Chairwoman, actively participated in the clean-up effort.
"It was wonderful to see so many people of different ages and backgrounds come together in the spirit of Dr. King," Ms. Johnson Sellers. "Everyone pitched in to clean, inventory and pack #WITKITS -- all in an effort to support women and girls in Montgomery and beyond. This day of service has set WIT up for success as our work to end period poverty marches on into 2024."
The following Women in Training, Inc. leaders provided support for the AFL-CIO volunteer project:
Mr. Bradley Bennett, WIT Vice President
Ms. Elizabeth Johnson Sellers, WIT Board Secretary and Communications Chairwoman
Master Sergeant Ashley Marshall and family
Ms. Jodi Womack
The following members of the WIT Leadership Development Academy worked alongside AFL-CIO volunteers to pack #WITKITS of menstrual, dental and hygiene supplies:
Kaylana Brazile, Freshman, LAMP Academic Magnet School
Elizabeth Garrison, Freshman, LAMP Academic Magnet School
Chassidy Hogan, Sophomore, Park Crossing High School
Ms. Danielle Hogan, Chassidy's Mom
JeNai Turner, Junior, Brewbaker Technology Magnet School
Jada Walker, Freshman, Brooker T. Washington Magnet School
Savannah Williams, Junior, Stanhope Elmore High School