This weekend, I was lucky enough to experience Martin Luther King Jr. up close.

I met Joseph Jackson Jr., an Anaheim resident and Civil Rights-era icon and student peace movement leader who led over 300 individuals, mainly families, and over 30 volunteers who volunteered services as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

The event was spearheaded by MiNDS, a local community service and Family Centered Development non-profit organization that brought together 12 other organizations to offer essential services to families in need. Giving Children Hope, a local and international aid organization based in Buena Park, CA, hosted the event.

Mr. Jackson, an Anaheim resident, was finally telling his story after 51 years of remaining quiet. “I couldn’t get myself to talk about my experiences all these years,” he said but felt that the times now called for it. He was born on April 14, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee and was a formidable figure in student desegregation movement.

One of MiNDS’ stated goals is to promote service to others and encourage volunteerism. This was the group’s fourth annual MLK outreach event and the second in North Orange County. As in this past weekend, last year MiNDS hosted one of the largest MLK Day of Service events in Orange County.

In a recent essay, Dr. Faisal Qazi, the co-founder and current President of MiNDS stated, “Many civil and human rights movements such as the struggles for racial and economic justice continue to intensify today. I am forced to assess the place of my faith community in this country within the context of these movements. Today, we are suddenly faced with a sharp rise in an extreme vitriolic, public display of outright racism, xenophobia and racial profiling more than in preceding years. Our work, including commemoration of this very day, is a formidable response to such attitudes and I’m grateful for the support of all the well-meaning individuals and groups that stand by us in this effort.” He further noted that for him MLK Day has become more than just a day of service or an opportunity to promote volunteerism. “It has become a response and a struggle to retain all that is good in our society and a fight against the marginalization of all people”, said Qazi.

Dr. Taif Kaissi, Vice President of MiNDS, proudly noted that the “organization takes pride in its ability to bring a diverse group of faith and non-faith based organizations, as well as social service groups, together to celebrate this occasion by extending our goodwill to all.”

MLK Day is a reminder that we all can make a difference.

Services offered included: enrollment in health insurance through Covered California, distribution of toys donated by Imperial Toys, books collected by Fullerton Public Library, clothes, shoes and hygiene kits provided by Uplift Charity, canned food items collected with assistance from Buena Park Police Department, as well as a variety of beverages by Neuro Drink. St. Jude Hospital administered BMI testing, education and counseling. YWCA-NOC provided follow-up clinic appointments and enrollments for mammograms. Participating organizations also included CAPOC, Obria Medical Clinic, and Taller San Jose, dental screening and counseling by Dr. Michael Ngo, and vision screening and counseling by Dr. Yamam Almouradi. Individual donors sent various other supplies while MiNDS provided additional subsidies.

Yara Almouradi lives in Brea, is a Masters of Fine Arts student at CSU Fullerton and the Project Manager of MiNDS, a southern California based non-profit.

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