On Jan. 18, for the first time, Einstein joined other organizations nationwide in a day of service in memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The federal holiday honoring Dr. King’s legacy is unique in being observed as a “day on, not a day off,” to encourage Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
“The difficulties of the past year have reinforced the importance of community,” says Nerys Benfield, M.D., M.P.H., senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a vision of a ‘beloved community’ where all people can live free from poverty and racism,” says Dr. Benfield, who is also an associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein and director of family planning at Montefiore. “Our hope is that students, faculty, and staff members continue to serve the community throughout the year, and we look forward to making this an annual opportunity.”
As part of Einstein’s inaugural MLK Service Challenge, dozens of students, faculty, and staff members donated their time in person and virtually throughout the week. The office of diversity and inclusion partnered with three local organizations, including Montefiore’s Project BRAVO, HERO High School, and the Bronx Community Foundation, as well as Einstein’s Food Justice and Medicine group, to offer volunteer events.
Those included packaging groceries at a Bronx food pantry, helping younger students online with health and science projects, delivering bags of groceries by car to people’s homes, and distributing food and personal protective equipment to Bronx community members from Einstein’s campus.