At 17, Kim Tran is an experienced volunteer. She got her start several years ago by pitching in on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Now a Mariner High School senior, Tran was a ninth-grader when she joined other teens cleaning an Everett home as part of the MLK Day of Service. The annual event is organized by several nonprofits in Snohomish County, including United Way.
“People really do appreciate teens doing some of the chores they aren’t able to do,” Tran said Monday. “The projects I have done have mostly been cleaning houses for elders who have medical issues. Teens have cleaned kitchens, washed dishes, vacuumed or cleaned bathrooms.”
This year’s King holiday, Jan. 20, will be her fourth one helping with what United Way calls “a day on, not a day off.” About 300 high school students are expected to join in the one-day effort, said Sara Haner, a communications manager for the local United Way.
Dennis Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County, said the civil rights leader’s teachings pair perfectly with volunteerism, with the day’s emphasis on compassion and community. “This national day of service provides a way to put those ideals into action,” Smith said in a statement.
Around the country, the day of service is an answer to this often-quoted King query: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Service projects in Snohomish County that day will include working on a home-construction project for low-income families, leading exercises for adults with disabilities, and housecleaning. Last year, high school kids even took glue sticks in hand to help people make Valentine cards at Full Life Care, an adult day health care facility in Everett.
The sign-up deadline for this year’s day of service is Jan. 13. Volunteer slots for specific projects fill quickly. School clubs, Scout troops and friends wanting to work together are encouraged to register as groups. Teens may also sign up individually.
The YMCA of Snohomish County, Catholic Community Services and Senior Corps’ Retired &Senior Volunteer Program are United Way’s partners in the day of service.
Tran is now part of an advisory board aimed at helping make the day a success. “Because of that first MLK Day freshman year, I’ve ventured on to different volunteer experiences. It opened a lot of doors,” she said.
For Tran, there’s something better than sleeping late on a day off from school.
“When one client saw how clean her house was — just seeing her smile — she really did appreciate it,” Tran said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Teens ages 14 to 19 are welcome to volunteer Jan. 20 for the MLK Day of Service, sponsored by United Way of Snohomish County. Sign-up deadline is Jan. 13. Register online at www.uwsc.org/mlkday.php. Information: 425-374-5526 or email email@example.com
This article has been edited since it was first posted online to more accurately reflect sponsorship of the MLK Day of Service.