Meridian Once Again Warms Up, DC

2015_mlk_service_dayAs a way to honor the legacy and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Meridian hosted our second annual Warm Up, DC to address Dr. King’s challenge, "What are you doing for others?" On January 19, 2015, with generous support from our presenting sponsor, City First Bank, Meridian bridged the local and global work of our mission with a day of service that engaged both domestic and international communities. Our key partner and beneficiary for this year’s initiative was the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Silver Spring, which offers education, nutrition, and family support programs to newly arrived refugee families in the Washington, DC metro area.

The day opened at the civic-minded community institution, Busboys and Poets, with a kick-off celebration and "knit-in" featuring welcome remarks by Meridian’s President & CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, along with Gloria Nauden, Vice President; Marketing and Communications Director of City First Bank of DC, Emily Sernaker, Volunteer and External Relations Coordinator with IRC, and Busboys and Poets’ Nafisa Isa. We were thrilled that Busboys’ owner, Andy Shallal, stopped by to say hello and share a few stitches himself.

Throughout the day, participating neighborhood businesses and organizations served as "donation destinations," collecting items to prepare IRC’s clients for the winter weather, complete with one-per-customer karmic bonuses. CakeLove provided free mini-cupcakes with each sweater donation and The Press accepted gently used coats and jackets - in exchange for a generous discount on dry cleaning. Likewise, Twice As Warm, which embodies a philosophy of "Wear One, Give One," was on-hand offering cozy scarves and hats.

The entire Meridian campus was utilized to welcome community members, neighbors, and partners (including several international visitors from Belarus) to join us for service projects of all shapes and sizes. Direct trade and fairtrade certified Coexist Coffee fueled the day’s events, beginning with the "I Have a Dream" Lab. The Lab included two simultaneous sessions - one for budding entrepreneurs, guided by DC Social Innovation Project andIMPACT, and the second track on "Employment Empowerment" included IRC clients who were matched with volunteers for resume review, interviewing skills, and networking brainstorms.

With a belief that small hands can also do big things, kids of all ages joined in the day’s activities, including an instrument share for guitar and keyboard, compliments of Girls Rock! DC, a station to make beaded jewelry to benefit FAIR Girls, and inspirational note-writing to slip into backpacks and send someone back-to-school with soaring spirits.

Bikes for the World, which collects, reconditions, and ships bicycles to those in need of viable transportation, wheeled in for a bicycle collection heading to Costa Rica, and Kasper’s Cargos provided stylish pick-ups at our donation sites along the U Street corridor.

It was all hands on deck for the Backpack Stuff-athon, for which 100 backpacks were filled to the brim with necessities ranging from notebooks to pencils. City First Bank of DC supported this project, intended to send IRC clients back to school well equipped.

Huge thanks to our generous in-kind sponsors, Harris Teeter- which shared store certificates - and Well Dunn Catering, which provided both boxed lunches for volunteers, along with scrumptious hot chocolate and cookies for a final celebratory toast of the day.

For the full scope of the day’s events, please click here.

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