LDS Democrats and Other Non-profit Groups Unite in Service Over Martin Luther King Day Weekend

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Saturday morning, LDS Democrats statewide got out of bed early to participate in local service projects in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This newest caucus of the Utah Democrats was organized in October 2011 by State Sen. Ben McAdams. The Martin Luther King Day weekend celebration was only the second event as an organization for the LDS Democrats, according to Craig Janis, Outreach Chair.

“Our first activity was a pancake breakfast before General Conference,” Janis said.

The theme of the weekend was inspired by a quote from King, according to McAdams as he announced the day of service a few weeks ago.

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve,” McAdams said, quoting King.

This thought was successfully illustrated in Provo as members of the community, each representing different organizations, united to help improve their community.

Those living in Utah County participated alongside United Way to paint the new offices of an organization called Easter Seals.

Easter Seals is a private, nonprofit organization serving children and adults with autism and other disabilities, along with disadvantaged families in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Last week the small Provo branch of Easter Seals, which is partnered with Wasatch Mental Health, moved from rented space in the main building into its own building on the Wasatch Mental Health campus, located near Seven Peaks.

“We are a home-based program, so most of my staff do all the services in the home,” said Janet Wade, Director of Easter Seals services in Utah. “But because of the economy of doing it that way, we’ve had more money to provide more services so I can hire more staff, hence the need for more office space.”

The building, while spacious, was clearly in need of a paint job. In order to keep funds to provide services to the community, Easter Seals advertised a need for volunteers to help get the building ready for use.

“We contacted United Way to find a project for Utah County and they told us about this one,” Janis said. “We put out word to BYU and a few other places to find volunteers and get everybody here.”

There were many participants who represented the LDS Democrats, such as Claire Forste and Renata Forste, a mother and daughter from Orem, and Carlynn Briggs and Chris Briggs, a husband and wife from Alpine.

“We received an email from LDS Democrats, so we responded and we are happy to be here,” Carlynn said.

Others, like Anna O’Bryan from Possumtrot, Ky., and Annelise White from Greenville, N.C., came representing the BYU Democrats. BYU’s Y-Serve was also represented by Allexis Done from Spring Mills, Pa., and Cammie Marler from Bryant, Ark.

The total count of volunteers who signed in was 29, according to Wade.

“I had only been looking for 15 people,” Janis said, showing his happiness with the outcome of volunteers.

The entire interior of the building was completed in about four hours.

“It looks great,” said Wade, expressing gratitude to the volunteers as they left the building.

Janis was also grateful for the support shown by the community.

“Thanks to the BYU students who came,” Janis said. “It’s good to remember everything that Martin Luther King taught and what he stood for. I can’t think of a better way then giving service.”

The LDS Democrats’ celebration of Martin Luther King Day weekend officially ended Monday night, with a multi-denominational fireside held at the University of Utah.

The speakers included Pamela J. Atkinson, who serves as a member of several nonprofit organizations in Utah, Ronald Coleman, African American history professor, and Chase Peterson, former President of the University of Utah.

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