MLK Day an opportunity for many to roll up their sleeves in Hamden

HAMDEN —  Many folks had the day off, in observance of the Martin Luther King Day holiday, but others were on the job in honor of King. And, the Hamden community is grateful.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud

“This is really amazing to just give back on this day where a lot of people are home and relaxing,” said Nastascia Dickson, of Bridgeport, who was among the volunteers inside the Whitneyville Cultural Commons.

“We are here helping our communities become better.”

Volunteers from the Public Allies service organization, an AmeriCorps program, felt a warmth as they worked.

“We are weatherizing the windows and I couldn’t be happier,” said Jacqueline Simone Brown of New Haven.

Cutting and installing strips of plastic, 69 inches high by 44 inches wide, was their way to celebrate what would have been the 89th birthday of the world’s foremost civil rights leader.

“Like any other legend, you just want to imitate that especially when it’s something kind of manageable by just giving your time back people and doing what you think is the right thing,” said George Hibbert, of Bridgeport.

In 1994, Martin Luther King Day was designated by Congress as a National Day of Service, which is especially important to one individual that was among the dozen or so volunteers Monday.

“I’m previously incarcerated,” said Yancy Singleton, of Norwalk. “I did 10 years in prison. This program has been instrumental in my reentry back into society.”

He is part of Public Allies’ 10 month nonprofit leadership apprenticeship program.

“They receive skill-based leadership training,” said Emily Gallagher, who is a team leader for Public Allies. “They receive coaching. While they’re in the program, they earn a stipend and also some money to return to school, about $5,000.”

And appreciate an opportunity to carry on Dr. King’s dream.