February 7, 2020
“This day shows me that we can come together for things that are really important. We need days like these to bond as a community.”—Elena, 8-year Visitacion Valley Clubhouse member

Visitacion Valley Clubhouse member Elena spent her “day off from school” on MLK Day with more than 300 Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) staff, youth, family members, and friends for a day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Elena is a member of BGCSF’s President’s Advisory Council (PAC)—a group of youth leaders from BGCSF Clubhouses and Camp Mendocino who partnered with BGCSF staff to plan and activate the event. Elena and her fellow PAC members saw the MLK Day of Service as an opportunity to voice their opinion on important issues and show how youth can create the change they want to see in the world.

The 13 PAC members kicked the day off in the Don Fisher Clubhouse gym, where hundreds of participants were energized and ready to make a difference. The PAC pumped up the crowd of excited volunteers with spoken word and musical performances, civil rights history, and a spirit of community in Dr. King’s honor.

After the morning kick off, participants took part in one of three activities: distributing food to our neighbors in need, marching in downtown San Francisco, or serving a community meal with Sunnydale residents. Each activity was inspired by civil rights organizing of the past and showcased the importance of taking action.

When asked about planning the event, Anthony, 12, a three-year member of Mission Clubhouse and PAC member, talked about what he learned through planning and activation. “It feels nice to see what we’ve been working on for months now, how it helps people, and what it can become.” He continued, “When you do something, and it’s all done, it’s nice to see your finished result and the good you did.”

PAC events use creative arts as a means to elevate youth voice and promote issues that matter the most to youth, and our MLK Day of Service put the PAC’s hard work on full display. The event provided participants with a fun and impactful experience that focused on community, personal responsibility, social justice, and the importance of service to others. 

Below is a photo recap showing the difference we made on this MLK Day. For more photos, visit our MLK Day of Service Flickr album.

The day started in the Don Fisher Clubhouse gymnasium, where President’s Advisory Council members got the crowd excited about making a difference in their communities.

Youth made signs promoting issues that were important to them and were encouraged to share their unique perspective! 

Youth also chose inspirational quotes in solidarity with those who came before them.

Don Fisher Clubhouse member Alexis moved the crowd with an incredible performance of “Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange.

At the Don Fisher Clubhouse, youth prepared meals for community members in need.

Staff and youth worked together for a common cause, creating a sense of community.

Participants also decorated lunch bags to show their fellow community members how much they care.

Once the meals were prepped, Club youth and staff took to the streets!

Staff and youth handed the meals out to community members in need.

In downtown San Francisco, our second group of participants attended the MLK Day March, serving as the event’s single largest contingent!

Youth and staff put the signs they made to good use, sharing their voice and expressing what matters most to them!

Based on the smiles, it’s clear our members had a lot of fun sharing their perspective and engaging with their community!

In Sunnydale, youth hosted a community meal and held a panel featuring neighborhood leaders speaking about food justice in honor of the Black Panthers’ free breakfast program. The meal was prepared by Drew Jenkins from Mercy Housing and served by youth in the Sunnydale Leadership Initiative. The panel was facilitated by Chloe Underdue, HOPE SF Leadership Program Manager from Bay Area Community Resources.

The day also included artistic expression, with youth and staff designing and painting a mural for the Sunnydale Clubhouse with help from Where Art Lives.

Arts and crafts stations were all over the Sunnydale Clubhouse multi-purpose room, bringing big smiles to the faces of staff and youth.

Towards the end of the day, Chloe Underdue took participants went on a tour of the Sunnydale neighborhood, learning about the changes residents are facing as they prepare for the neighborhood’s redevelopment.

We were proud of the opportunity our Day of Service provided our community to give back and honor those who came before us. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed and made the day such an overwhelming success! If you’d like to participate in events like this in the future, volunteering is a great way to start!

BGCSF is committed to empowering youth to make a positive impact on their community. To learn more about how we’re building tomorrow’s leaders, check out our Character & Leadership Development program.

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