HONORING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY: WHAT VOLUNTEERING HAS MEANT TO ME AND MY FAMILY

January 14, 2022

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Centric Brands is committed to continuing to create an inclusive workplace and culture, reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision for an equitable and fair world for all. In celebration of his work advancing the civil rights of all Americans, Centric Brands has made a contribution to The King Center, a nonprofit organization that supports programming based on Martin Luther King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology.

Centric Brands has also organized a week of service for associates to take part in virtual volunteer opportunities to serve and uplift our local communities.

To recognize the day, we are spotlighting Denise Chetram, Graphic Design Manager for Bath and Beauty at Centric Brands, who wrote an article for the Centric Brands community on what volunteering has meant to her and her family.

“Every year, on the third Monday in January, we celebrate the life, work and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It is the only federal holiday observed as a National Day of Service, and Americans are encouraged to make this “a day on, not a day off.” The holiday is a chance to keep MLK Jr.’s dream alive by giving back to our local communities through volunteering and service so we can get closer to his vision of a “Beloved Community”, a vision built on the pillars of social and economic justice as well as love and connection towards our fellow humans. While participating as a volunteer, it may like seem as though a few hours or a day here and there will not make so much of a difference, but from my experience it does. It might not be instant, and it could be years or generational, but any number of hours, days or donation has an impact.

Our family started volunteering a few years ago at SCO Family Services foster care home for disabled and neurodivergent children and young adults. We were asked to bring cookies for them to decorate, and because it was our first-time volunteering, we didn’t know what to expect. The first few times was a bit shocking as it was loud, fast paced, and stressful at times. All the children and young adults had different needs to be fulfilled, and we had to navigate who we could approach, talk to or who could eat what foods or not. At first, it seemed that our efforts to help those in need were extremely limited aside from some form of financial help, but the people who worked there stressed that despite our concerns, our visits helped more than we knew. One thing we realized was that everyone enjoyed the presence of outside people with which to spend time and talk. Sometimes it was talking to the aides who took care of the residents and giving them a respite in their routine. Other times it was having a conversation with a child that was excited to meet new people. We have since made many friends who have come and gone, and it has not only made a difference in their lives, but in ours as well.

It has started discussions within our family about different disabilities, family dynamics and how to interact with certain people that we would have never met without this work. They were experiences that none of us will forget. Having my husband and two children with me has also made the experience more fulfilling and powerful. I believe the experience has encouraged the development of my children’s current involvement with everything they do now. My daughter Arianna is a musician who has also started a Non-Profit called Pwr N Noise whose mission is working on school reform to be more inclusive and truthful. And my son Jaiya is on several school committees for Diversity and Inclusion and has also interned with A BroaderWay Foundation, an organization that aims to amplify the power of young people through the arts.

I am currently on the Be Giving committee, which has given me the opportunity to volunteer at some amazing places with my fellow colleagues. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” In our busy lives, it’s sometimes hard to set aside the time it takes to make a difference, but through “Be Giving”, we have the chance to do so with our group’s support.

This MLK Jr. Day, I am reminded that building a better future calls for volunteer action. It’s the perfect opportunity to dedicate a few hours to helping others while honoring Dr. King’s legacy—and maybe even start a lasting relationship with a nonprofit you’re passionate about.”

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