Words by Tess Becker
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American icon who stood up for civil rights and desegregation. Above all else, he fought for love for thy neighbor, and people still hold on to that mentality today.
One person, Greg Ankenman, took that idea to heart so much that he started something at his law firm called MLK Days of Service.
The MLK Days of Service is part of larger charitable efforts at the law firm, called Fennemore Wendel, and is the largest campaign of the year.
“The first year with everybody locked down in their homes, we were trying to figure out ways to reengage in service when we all were remote,” Greg tells Smiley News.
“We couldn't gather together to do the kinds of things that we did pre-Covid and with MLK Day coming up, we decided we would expand the MLK Day of Service. The day of service had become a big traditional thing so we decided to make it MLK Days of Service.”
They cooked up a bunch of projects that people could do at home in quarantine and, once we were out of lockdown, they kept the tradition going.
“That's where it kind of came from: our wanting to get re-engaged in community and take the spirit of the MLK Day to come up with things that people could do to help,” Greg says.
Volunteers also prepared 146 bagged lunches, many with hand-written notes, for distribution by Operation Dignity in their homeless outreach program.
They have specific programs they like to run each year but in general, they rotate out different community service opportunities while still trying to maintain remote options for their employees that work from home.
Greg credits his upbringing for inspiring him to be so active in the community and bringing service to his work.
“I was raised that way,” Greg says. “In a way, I'm going by the way my parents live their lives.”
MLK Days of Service isn’t their only community service campaign. According to Greg, they do at least one every month, even building relationships with community service organizations.
“We've developed relationships with the community groups we're partnering with and that makes it more meaningful to me and to others who get involved,” Greg says.
They’ve even worked with an organization featured in a previous Smiley News article, LavaMae.
All in all, Greg and other volunteers at Fennmore want to inspire people to help contribute to their community.
“I want them to see that we care about our community. One of the things that's most satisfying to me is being a part of getting other people involved in helping to serve,” Greg says.
You should get out and help some of the organizations they support like LavaMae, and also look for some in your community.