More than 30 GW students volunteered at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” Fair Monday afternoon.
The fair, which was held at Hine Junior High School, was a community initiative designed to provide an afternoon of fun and learning for children of homeless or low-income families in public housing projects in southeast D.C.
“We are providing child care for the afternoon so that the parents can get the resources they need to improve their situation,” said AmeriCorps member and sophomore Libby McCabe. “Parents tend to grab on to these types of programs to add some stability into their children’s lives. It’s really a hard, sad time for these kids.”
GW volunteers from AmeriCorps and other campus groups hosted carnival games, led craft projects, read and played basketball with the children.
Nikki McCray, a player on the Washington Mystics, was the biggest attraction, offering a few basketball tips before spending an hour reading stories to the children.
Other attractions included a puppet show, an African dance presentation and poetry readings celebrating King. Mallory Barg, a GW junior and AmeriCorps member, organized the African dance performance.
She said most sixth grade students she worked with from Seaton Elementary School in northwest D.C. “really looked forward to the performance of their work.”
Barg has worked with the sixth graders for several months through her AmeriCorps assignment at Seaton. She said many students also wrote their own poetry for the performance.
Members of GW’s College Democrats also attended the fair and distributed snacks for parents and students.
Local organizations such as the Fannie Mae provided important services for parents such as health screenings, housing information and legal advice. Programs about veterans’ issues, job opportunities, and training and education also were offered for adults.
Jennifer Olson, a homelessness fellow in the GW Office of Community Service, was an organizer of the “I Have a Dream” Fair. She said the fair examines not only the solutions but also the causes of homelessness.
Amiko Matsumoto, director of the Office of Community Service, ran training sessions for more than 300 volunteers at the fair. Matsumoto said the fair is “an excellent opportunity to learn as well as to serve.”
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day on, not a day off,” Matsumoto said.