Area nonprofits share meal, spirit of MLK service day

Area nonprofits share a meal and their needs with potential volunteers

01/16/2012 2:00 AM

01/16/2012 4:06 PM

Representatives from nine area nonprofits served up their needs with a side of accomplishments during the Sunday Supper in Raleigh, an event that exemplified the spirit of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

With the meal as a centerpiece, potential volunteers gathered to hear from nonprofits about how their efforts could help the community.

"This is a testament to how much people care about Raleigh, their coming out to make it an ever better place," said Brittany Bryan, marketing director for Activate Good, the Raleigh nonprofit that hosted the event.

Sunday Suppers occurred around the country Sunday as part of a national effort by the Points of Light Institute to connect volunteers with the nonprofits who need them.

Amber Smith, founder of Activate Good, encouraged participants to have conversations like anyone would at a dinner table.

"That's the idea," she said. "That anybody from any walk of life can come and talk about how to be a part of the solutions."

LaShon Colter of Raleigh was one of about 45 potential volunteers who listened to speeches from representatives of nonprofits and then circulated among the tables to learn more.

"I'm here because I believe in democracy and in everybody having a voice being important," Colter said. "I like the Sunday Supper concept because it doesn't matter what denomination, what creed, what religious orientation you are, you can still take part on a Sunday."

Carter Crain and Jen Newmeyer from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina were there, hoping to generate conversation about hunger and the number of children the food bank serves.

Crain said he loved the conversation part of the evening.

"The more people who know what we do, the more who want to help," he said. "And as far as service and MLK Day, we have a volunteer activity scheduled (today) where people can give back. There's a lot of bulk product that we can't get out unless it's sorted."

Dan Sargeant was representing Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that repairs homes for low-income elderly people or those with disabilities.

"I think the essence of service is what Dr. King stood for," he said. "It's something I've committed my life to, and I like the chance to celebrate service and what community stands for."

Abbi Tenaglia founded Transforming Hope Ministries, which is creating Emma's Home to minister to some of the 100,000 victims of U.S. human trafficking.

"Tonight we're just hoping to create some more awareness and meet some people and teach them that human trafficking does happen and to make them aware," she said. "That's the start to ending modern-day slavery. Knowledge is power."

When it was StepUpMinistry's turn at the microphone, representative Mary Jane Clark ran with fists pumping in the air, oozing enthusiasm for the service that her group and the others make happen.

"The secret to our success is the volunteers," she said. "It's a one-on-one ministry. "We'll take anything you have tooffer. Thanks for being part of the community during this special MLK day in which we're all sharing the spirit of community and our dream."

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