Close to 150 walk for #AcceptanceKindnessRespect
OneMontville and the Montville Township High School Culture Club came together to organize the first annual Martin Luther King Day of Respect and Community Service on January 16, 2017. The purpose was to walk for #AcceptanceKindnessRespect, introduce the walkers to many of the cultures that make Montville great, and to provide an opportunity for people to volunteer for service projects throughout the community.
The First Annual Martin Luther King Day of Respect and Community Service far exceeded the expectations of the coordinators of the OneMontville event. Nearly 150 men, women and children gathered at the Montville Township Municipal Building in the bright sunshine of the forty-one degree day.
“We planned for 60, hoped for 20 and were thrilled to welcome close to 150,” said Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar. Rovtar is the founder of OneMontville, a non-profit community organization that launched in fall 2015. The mission of OneMontville is to create and promote a climate of acceptance, inclusion and kindness which teaches and celebrates respect for one another by embracing and being enriched by the diversity that comprises the Montville Township Community.
“The mission of OneMontville can only be fully accomplished through the involvement and commitment of community leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, and residents of all ages, races, religions, ethnicities, abilities, gender identity or sexual orientation” said co-coordinator of the event and OneMontville Board member Shari Schwartz.
Wearing Montville Township green for unity, the day’s volunteers walked together a half of a mile; from Town Hall to the Pine Brook Jewish Center. They carried with them men’s white tube socks and hand and foot warmers to donate to Homeless Bus, Inc., a Towaco-based non-profit that has fed over 300 homeless people every Saturday in New York City since 1992. The walkers also donated over 30 bags of non-perishable food for the Montville Kiwanis Food Pantry.
Once they arrived at PBJC, the walkers had an opportunity to learn about Judaism, and the PBJC’s many local and global volunteer initiatives. They also volunteered for Homeless Bus by making “Happy Cards” – inspirational notes for the homeless.
From there the volunteers traveled to St. Pius X Church, the Montville Reformed Church and Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton. At each stop they participated in community outreach programs and learned about many area religions and organizations; including the Montville ecumenical group EAC (Everyone in Action for the Community). In addition, Montville United Methodist Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit joined Montville Reformed Church with a display honoring the man for which King was named: Martin Luther. The historical display also highlighted the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
“This is a community effort to celebrate our diversity and our unity,” said event co-coordinator and OneMontville board member Dr. Cathy Lundquist. “OneMontville is about Kindness and Respect for the entire Montville Township community.”
Kosher and halāl food was donated by Pine Brook Jewish Center and Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center. A hot lunch was served by volunteers at the Reformed Church and was provided by five Montville Township Restaurants: Columbia Inn, Harrigan’s, Montville Diner, Poor Henry’s and Red Barn. St Pius also provided water and cookies. Shuttle services were donated by Gordon Jones of Montville.
“This is a wonderful and very successful event,” said OneMontville Board President Ron Rauschart. “The first of what I believe will be many years of unifying events on Martin Luther King Day for OneMontville and the Montville Township community.”
The enthusiastic response to the MLK Day of Respect and Community Service has helped to provide excitement for the many other unifying events that are planned throughout 2017 by OneMontville, The Montville Township High School Culture Club and the character education programs in Montville Township Public Schools’ seven schools.
Currently all seven schools are observing National Random Acts of Kindness Week throughout the month of February. The Second Annual OneMontville Green In Day, where all students, businesses, and families are asked to wear green to encourage #AcceptanceKindnessRespect, is planned for Friday May 17, 2017.