Fort Worth

These people didn’t take off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Here’s what they did

MLK Day of Service in Fort Worth

Matt Becker of Forth Worth talks about why he volunteered on Monday to serve his community for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
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Matt Becker of Forth Worth talks about why he volunteered on Monday to serve his community for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Matt Becker of Fort Worth had never volunteered for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Tarrant County.

It’s the day for the last nine years that Tarrant County groups and churches spread out through neighborhoods and help their neighbors. Last year, 700 residents volunteered and served 30 community agencies.

Becker heard about the day at All Saints Episcopal School where he’s a math teacher.

“When I saw the opportunity, I could easily volunteer some time to help improve my community,” Becker said Monday as he cleaned a vacant lot off south Sylvania on the east side of Fort Worth. The plan is for the lot to be a playground for children at the Andrew “Doc” Session Community Center.

And Becker wasn’t alone.

More than 800 people volunteered to participate in the event held to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are honored to see this event take root and grow each year as more and more people come together to make it a day on, not a day off!” said Lindsay Klatzin, executive director of Tarrant Churches Together, which hosted the event. The group is a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect congregations of all faiths and address the unmet needs of Tarrant County.

An interfaith worship at Baker Chapel A.M.E. Church, 1050 E. Humbolt St., featuring Mayor Betsy Price kicked off the Day of Service.

About the same time, officials unveiled a new marker commemorating Dr. King’s only visit to Fort Worth in 1959. The marker is at General Worth Square between Main and 9th streets.

An MLK Jr. parade in downtown Fort Worth also honored the civil rights leader.

The event, however, that covered the entire county was the Day of Service, which had volunteers at 47 sites doing tasks like writing letters to soldiers overseas, weeding community gardens, stocking food pantry shelves and painting apartments to create safe space for victims of domestic violence.

President Donald Marshal of the United Riverside Neighborhood Association said he was glad to have volunteers like Becker to help clear a vacant lot for a playground.

Marshal estimated that 60 children at the Andrew “Doc” Session Community Center play on a paved patio in front of the center near a street.

“Sometimes a soccer ball will roll down that busy street,” Marshal said as he pointed to Sylvania Avenue. “We have this vacant lot near the center and that’s what we’re trying to clean up.”

Volunteers at the center were weeding the lot, trimming vines, picking up trash and painting the fence. Once the cleanup is complete and city officials approve it, children could have a new playground by the end of February.

Volunteer Chris Bartley of North Richland Hills was at the vacant lot Monday morning. He said he has offered his services four or five times in the past.

“What better way to meet other people in other faiths and my neighbors,” Bartley said.

Added Becker: “What better way to partner up with other people in the community. To do something great.”

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