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MLK Day of Service imageThis coming Monday we celebrate the MLK Day of Service, an initiative which urges people to view the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a “day on” rather than a day off – an opportunity to honor the legacy of Dr. King by encouraging us to get to know our neighbors and improve our communities by volunteering.

Volunteering brings together people of different backgrounds who recognize that we are all interconnected and that our individual well-being is enmeshed with the well-being of others. Volunteering empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, and creates solutions to social problems.  And recent studies have shown that putting the well-being of others before our own, expecting nothing in return, can actually improve our health.

We recognize that emergencies both small and large can happen at any time and that they can take communities by surprise and overwhelm them.

But we also know that communities can be better prepared for these events by building a hardy system of volunteers that are pre-identified, trained, and available to be deployed within a community if and when the need arises.

What’s more, anyone can be one of these volunteers by joining your local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a set of 38 community-based groups of volunteers who are trained and pre-approved to support existing community programs and resources during an emergency.

Medical and non-medical professionals alike are invited to apply to a Medical Reserve Corps unit. Once an applicant is pre-credentialed, accepted, and on-boarded, some of the activities that they may participate in may include:

  • assisting at emergency dispensing sites and flu clinics;
  • staffing emergency shelters that have been established due to weather events or man-made disasters;
  • providing behavioral support during and after emergencies;
  • providing support during vaccination clinics.
  • Additionally, volunteers may be asked to participate in exercises which allow them to experience a disaster scenario before the real thing and help inform how they would be called upon to assist in a real-life event.

By volunteering, you can feel good while helping others. Dr. King recognized the power of service to others, noting that, “Everyone can be great because everybody can serve.”  You can learn more about volunteering for your local Medical Reserve Corps at the MRC website.

Written By:


in the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management

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