Ever since 1963, when she attended the March on Washington and heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech, Joanna J.J. Jackson has volunteered her time. High school senior Ashley Wong wants to put more of her energy towards volunteerism and less into her laptop.
Today in the spirit of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, she and Jackson will meet in a gathering that would have made the civil rights icon proud: Budding volunteers from the Manhattan Center for Science and Math are celebrating MLK Day by recording the stories of lifelong volunteers.
“I want to understand their experiences,” Wong said.
Jackson, who volunteered in Bedford-Stuyvesant for Mayor John Lindsay’s 1965 and 1969 campaigns before taking a secretarial job in his administration, is happy to share.
“A kind word, a handshake, an offer to someone else — through each thing you became a blessing, so to speak,” she said.
At New York Cares — the umbrella organization hosting today’s event — Jackson went from being a client in a computer literacy class four years ago to running her own volunteer sites teaching adults and children to read.
“The time I spend with the kids is when I’m most happy,” said Jackson, 64.