We say it time and time again: volunteers are the heart of the MLK Community Center.

Just how essential you are became strikingly apparent last March, when we had to suspend our volunteer program due to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Probably the most telling thing about our incredible team of volunteers? During a time of such turmoil in our community (and in our world), you just kept asking, “So, when can we help?” It was very tough not having our volunteers for several months – because you’re our friends, our neighbors, part of our MLK family – and because you’re absolutely essential to all that happens here. 

From Breakfast to Evening Food Pantry, volunteers have a hand in nearly everything here at the Center. You wake up – sometimes before the sunrise – to get to the Center to make a fresh pot of coffee and distribute hot breakfast. You make Food 2 Friends deliveries to the homebound on your lunch break from work. You wait in the rain for the bus to come, so you can get to your Food Pantry volunteer shift on time. You sacrifice countless hours to help set up our Holiday Programs. You give up your free time to come to the Center and teach free Community Programs. You make time in your always-busy schedule – work, kids, grandkids, pets, other obligations – to do the sometimes unglamorous, but absolutely necessary work, of a MLK Community Center volunteer. 

We haven’t been able to welcome all of you back to the Center, as we’re still operating under a somewhat reduced building capacity. But we’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to our volunteers – those who have rejoined us and those who have yet to – for always answering the call — showing up for Newport County — and doing so with a (masked!) smile. 

We’ve said it before: the “Community” in our name isn’t just some nebulous idea. It’s all of us, it’s you. You answer the call for Newport County. And the smiles and sighs of relief when clients receive life-changing support are the products of incredible people like all of you who give so selflessly of your energy, talents, and time. 

Since we weren’t able to come together for our annual Volunteer Celebration in 2020, this year we distributed a special treat to volunteers who dedicated 10 hours of their time or more to the Center between October 2019 and April 2021: beautiful, custom-made cookies, a small token of our appreciation. What makes the cookies even more special is that they were handmade by one of our very own talented volunteers: Tracy of Ocean’s Edge Sweets! Here are some photos of just a few of the volunteers who received their cookies & thank you cards this week from Nancy HartenDirector of Volunteers & Community Programs.

Our volunteers embody all that’s good in the world. I speak for all of the MLK’s staff and board when I say from the bottom of my heart, thank you

With gratitude,


Heather Hole Strout

Executive Director

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center

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