BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Samantha Richardson, president of The Gathering of Women, Inc., said she believes the projects her organization will complete for the 2019 MLK Day of Service honors the spirit of Dr. King because they are a call to serve and give back to the community.
“It serves to embrace Dr. King’s dream and the legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America,” she said. “So we’ve made a commitment to serve people.”
Founded in 2005, The Gathering of Women, Inc. is a nonprofit committed to providing a voice for women and to be a force for change. The group is a cross-cultural alliance of women developing partnerships and projects to better the community.
As part of the MLK Day of Service, the organization will conduct two service projects with funds awarded by the Florida Legislature and provided by St. Petersburg College.
Richardson said funding from the grant has allowed her to expand her reach and bring community awareness to two important issues: homelessness and healthy eating for children.
The first project will take place Saturday, Jan. 19 and involves providing warm blankets, coats, toiletries and clothing for families who find themselves without stable housing.
“Our mission is to instill and promote dignity in the homeless,” Richardson explained. “You must treat each and every person with dignity and respect. It’s hard to witness the suffering of others.”
Saturday’s program will take place from 10:30-2 p.m. at the St. Vincent DePaul homeless shelter, 401 15th St. N.
The second project, slated for Monday, Jan. 21, is called Kids in the Kitchen, a program that allows students to work alongside local chefs to make some of Dr. King’s favorite dishes using ingredients from a garden at the Pinellas Technical College.
The Kids in the Kitchen initiative encourages children ages 6-14 to eat healthier meals and snacks by allowing them to have an opportunity to actually participate in cooking and understand how gardening and cooking go hand in hand.
“Kids need to learn about food from the garden to plate,” Richardson said. “It builds confidence around food preparation, encourages healthier eating habits and wards off food phobias. Our children’s health and wellness is a key issue.”
Monday’s project will be held from 9:30 a.m. until noon at Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th St. S. She hopes to reach more than 200 people with the two events.
Richardson said she believes both projects are a true representation of Dr. King and are a great way to spend time honoring him.
“A day on not a day off is important on MLK Day because the holiday is about serving our community,” she explained. “Through service, we can have the opportunity to bridge barriers and build lasting change. It’s a day to give back.”