Joliet — Following the cancellation of Joliet’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in January, the African American Business Association of Will County has created a new event called the “Day of Light” to give volunteers a chance to serve their community.
The Day of Light will be Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Nowell Park Fitness Center. Registered volunteers will meet at the fitness center for sign-in and breakfast before going out to seven different worksites throughout the city to assist on multiple service projects.
“We already have about 200 volunteers signed up,” AABA President Chris Parker said. “That was our goal, and we are likely to exceed it. If we continue to get more volunteers before our deadline, we may add additional projects to the event, but we have to see how it goes.”
Currently, volunteers are slated to work at Nowell Park creating care packages for the homeless, with the Joliet Housing Authority doing art projects with seniors and the National Hookup of Black Women – Joliet assisting in the group’s food pantry.
“This is a collaboration of people who want to spread light. Given some of the difficult things that’ve happened in our community recently, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to get involved and spread that light.”
— Chris Parker, president of the African American Business Association of Will County
Although AABA has exceeded its initial expectation, more volunteers still are welcome and needed, Parker said. In order to take part in the event, volunteers need to register by Feb. 7 by visiting www.aabaconnect.org.
“Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Darkness can only be driven out by light,’” Parker said. “We are doing service to be the light in our community. That’s our goal with this event.”
Joliet Township High School District 204 and the AABA had planned to partner for the annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 15 but were forced to cancel the event because of snow and extreme cold, which would have posed a danger to volunteers at outdoor worksites.
Parker and the AABA chose to host an alternative service event in King’s honor in February as a way to commemorate Black History Month and give volunteers the chance to get involved again.
The event officially is being co-hosted by Joliet Township, and Parker credited JTHS, NAACP, National Hook Up of Black Women and History on Wheels as official “partners” for the event.
Organizations that still wish to collaborate also can sign up on the AABA website.
After the service projects are completed, volunteers will be welcomed back at Nowell Park for a luncheon featuring live entertainment and vendor booths.
The Mount Zion Church Gospel Choir will be performing as part of the event, and there will be a DJ. There also will be an opportunity for volunteers, including high school students, to read their own original poetry.
Vendors present will include partner organizations as well as local nonprofit groups and government organizations that will be providing information about their services.
“Part of the celebration is not only to recognize the volunteers for their service and commitment to community, but we also want to provide additional resources to them so they can not only prosper, but they can be a beacon of light and share the information provided to others,” Parker said.
Among the services available at the lunch will be a registrar from Will County to help volunteers register to vote, tax preparation assistance from Joliet Township, and WIC assistance and information from the Will County Health Department.
Other organizations that will be present include The Table Joliet, Will County Community Health Center, Guardian Angel Community Services, Will County Center for Community Concerns, Primerica Insurance and AngiMac Accessories & Jewelry.
“This is a collaboration of people who want to spread light,” Parker said. “Given some of the difficult things that’ve happened in our community recently, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to get involved and spread that light.”