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day of service

USDA Mississippi Employees Contribute Time, Effort on Martin Luther King Day of Service

Earlier this month, all Mississippi agencies and staff were invited to participate in USDA’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service by volunteering two hours of their time to a non-profit organization of their choice. Three USDA Rural Development Mississippi State Office employees, Jennifer Jimerson, Ericka Butler, and Michelle Wilkerson volunteered at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson, serving meals for lunch.

The very heart of Stewpot is the noon meal its staff and volunteers serve each day of the year. This meal serves as the center of each day as well as the heart of the Stewpot philosophy. Rich and poor, black and white … all God's children come together over a nourishing meal. More than 120 people a day are physically and spiritually fed in the community kitchen and 50 meals are delivered to shut-ins in the area. Volunteers are always needed to lend a hand in the Stewpot Community Kitchen.

USDA Rural Development Honors the Memory of a Crew Member During Martin Luther King Day of Service

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

Those words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seem particularly prophetic for staff at USDA Rural Development in Arizona.

As staff was planning for the federal Martin Luther King Day of Service, we received news that our friend on the USDA Phoenix building cleaning crew, Elia Zepeda, was ill and in the hospital. Within days she slipped into a coma and died.

Elia’s cheerful personality greeted many USDA Rural Development employees at the Arizona State Office as they entered or exited the building each day. Although we never saw her in anything but her blue Goodwill uniform, it was clear that, although she loved her job, she was much more than a “cleaning lady.”

Martin Luther King Day-A Day of Service

In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the congregation, asking:  “Life's most persistent and urgent question is:  'What are you doing for others?’ ”

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. King was passionately committed to community and service. On January 21st, USDA Rural Development is proud to join with Americans from all walks of life to honor Dr. King’s legacy through a National Day of Service. The Day of Service — a “day on, not a day off” — is part of United We Serve, President Obama's national call to service initiative.

At USDA Rural Development, “doing for others” is one of our core rural values, and we encourage everyone in our organization to practice Dr. King’s principals of community, volunteerism and service not just on the Day of Service but throughout the year. In Tennessee, the “Volunteer State,” USDA Rural Development employees in the State Office in Nashville helped the hungry over the past year by donating more than 3,800 pounds of food through the USDA Feds Feed Families food drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. State Office employees also helped the food bank, which provides food to about 600,000 people across 46 counties each year, to sort food items for easier distribution.