On January 12, the Roxbury YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Boston, hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Every year, it brings together various community members to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of action toward a welcoming, collaborative community. The theme of this year’s event is “Protecting the Dream.”
“The sole purpose of the breakfast is for attendees to engage with one another and have a call to action on how they want to carry out the mission and principles Dr. King implemented,” said Tim Baymon Jr., the executive director of the Roxbury YMCA.
An Evolving Itinerary
The program changes each year. Past breakfasts have included keynote speakers, casual chats with local leaders, panels and more. This year, the event will honor corporate entities who have supported the YMCA philanthropically and through programming that benefits the Roxbury, Massachusetts, community and youth.
Baymon Jr. noted thanking these sponsors is important and help the Y honor Dr. King’s legacy throughout the year. Some ways it does this is including hiring and supporting inclusive staff to serve their diverse community, tackling health disparities and programming that promotes belonging.
“High-quality programs and being partners who work with the community is important,” said Baymon Jr. “We also do community assessments to understand what their needs are from early education level to seniors.”
Supporting the Legacy
Along with important discussions that celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, the event raises money to help the Y continue their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion. Through the breakfast, attendees can see how their support goes back to the community through the YMCA’s year-long efforts.
“The individuals and organizations that come to the breakfast understand they’re supporting the various programs we offer,” said Baymon Jr. “They have an affinity for this organization. They know their philanthropic support is going to a cause that’s very much needed in the community and impacting all areas on all levels.”
Baymon Jr. explained how the Y focuses on having participants of a wide range of ages at the breakfast, particularly youth. Because of this, they can have the experience of interacting with community leaders creating change locally, including elected officials. Some of them will also share how they’re honoring Dr. King’s legacy and how the Roxbury YMCA has helped them grow in leadership, collaboration and more.
“I’m excited about the guests we have and allowing our young people to share what they’re doing and how the Y has impacted them,” said Baymon Jr. “Some of these individuals who don’t really know about the Y will get a better snapshot of what we do.”
Being a Part of Change
An event like this not only supports the Y’s initiatives — it also ties its legacy to an already established one of inspiring camaraderie and hope within the community. By encouraging attendees to be part of its journey, they too are encouraged to strive for a better future.
“We want people to walk away from this event and feel they have work to do and want to be a part of making and creating positive change in the community,” said Baymon Jr.
Along with the breakfast, the Y is celebrating Martin Luther King Day on January 15 through their day of service.
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