Find your voice in a week of opportunities

By Brandon Fulk

January 15th, 2021

 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what it right.” 

Looking back on the year behind us and the division that still remains in 2021, the time to do what is right is now. Our world is constantly changing around us. We’ve had to adapt how we do every day things, such as work, school, and grocery shopping. Community service is no different. 

As we prepare to celebrate and honor the legacy and service of Martin Luther King Jr., we want to make you aware of the many opportunities open to you to step up and help your community.  

FIND What Works For You

January 18th is MLK Day 2021, but the opportunities to serve aren’t limited to one day. There is no shortage of service opportunities, both in-person and virtual.

Traditional activities have been adjusted to meet social distancing guidelines. The LUM Protein Pantry Food Drive is now a drive-thru donation drop off as a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College. Donations will be accepted starting January 18th. 

The ACE Food Pantry Van will be parked throughout Purdue’s campus through the week of MLK Day. A detailed list of locations can be found on our events page. 

Service doesn’t always have to be a physical act. You can serve others by better educating yourself. If you’re not able to get out and participate in the traditional service opportunities, consider taking a new approach such as diving deeper into educational opportunities around social justice. Several virtual events are being offered by Purdue University. Not only do these events highlight the vision and mission of Martin Luther King Jr., but they offer a unique way to serve through education. 

One of the events will feature Ron Finley, ‘The Gangsta Gardener.’ Finley is from the South Los Angeles area and he is widely known for his service through planting community gardens in LA. He’ll speak to how COVID-19 proved to be an unlikely ally in getting his message to more people. 

Another panel discussion will focus on Black Trans and Queer Leadership in Civil Rights. A virtual panel of Black Trans and Queer advocates will speak about historical achievements and offer advice to those looking to engage in racial justice movements. There are so many more panels and lectures that are slated for MLK Day week and the days following, so head to the MLK Day Resource page for more info. 


Another way to show up for your community is by taking part in one of the many community conversations.

On Sunday, January 17th, the Pastors’ Alliance will be hosting a virtual MLK commemorative service and panel discussion: ‘The Beloved Community MLK Envisioned.’ Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, Rev. Toby Sanders, and Dr. Leonard Harris will be featured as panel speakers. Viewers will be encouraged to participate in the conversation. For more information and how to register, visit the Pastors’ Alliance Facebook page. 

Another conversation opportunity will be hosted by The Beloved Community on Monday, January 18th. ‘Building Beloved Community: Where Do We Go From Here,’ will feature three conversations led by our elected officials,  school superintendents, and community organization leaders. The conversation will be geared towards finding the best path to a better Greater Lafayette. To learn more about the event, see the featured guests, and register, visit the Beloved Community Lafayette Facebook page. 

As an ongoing process to keep a pulse on the issues surrounding the community, United Way of Greater Lafayette holds community conversations with a range of community members in Tippecanoe County. Main concerns in past conversations have included: mental health & substance use, crime and drugs, diversity and inclusion, communication about events and services, accessibility/transportation and youth engagement.  These types of conversations help us  evaluate the needs and service gaps in the community. Not only will you be able to make your voice heard, you’ll be able to hear others and start building relationships in the community. 

United Way’s goal is to meet with a diverse group of people with different thoughts and ideals on an ongoing basis. 

If you’re unable to attend the Pastors’ Alliance conversation or the Beloved Community conversation, consider attending one of the three scheduled community conversations through United Way of Greater Lafayette. Those dates and registration info can be found here. 

Getting back to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Doing the right thing looks different for everyone. This MLK Day and every day following, find a way to serve your community. Volunteer, start a conversation, listen to someone. Find the time and method that works best for you, and encourage others to do the same. 

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