In recognition of the 18th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, Monday, Temple’s Office of Community Relations and the Computer Recycling Center delivered and set up 26 refurbished computers to Bright Hope Baptist Church.
“It’s amazing that Dr. King stood in this very church to dedicate this space in 1963 and here we are today celebrating his legacy,” said Bright Hope Senior Pastor Kevin R. Johnson. “Given King’s legacy of fighting for equal opportunity, this collaboration between Bright Hope and Temple University is fitting for this day.”
Bright Hope is more than just a church for the more than 120 students from the surrounding community who participate in weekly after-school programs and tutoring sessions held in the facility, said Shenneca Tilghman, director of the children’s ministry.
“This donation will give Bright Hope an opportunity to better serve our community," said Tilghman. "Access to computer literacy is an important component in helping to make sure that the children who attend Bright Hope programs have access to the tools they need be successful. This is just the beginning of several programs we have planned to help make Bright Hope a safe haven kids.”
Computer literacy was the overall theme for this year’s citywide service project. KEYSPOT, a federally funded initiative to bring technology to all Philadelphia communities, distributed netbook computers to 150 Philadelphia Housing Authority residents in an effort to help close the digital divide.
"Forty-one percent of Philadelphians don't have access to the Internet at home, and in this age we need the Internet for jobs and applying to schools and all sorts of things,” said Todd Bernstein, founder and director of the annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the oldest and largest King Day of Service event in the United States. “We're trying to close the gap, if you will, by providing opportunities for those in underserved communities."
In addition to the computer installation, more than 85 Temple students, faculty and community volunteers crowded into the lower level of Bright Hope to help paint two recreation rooms, clean items in the toddler room and organize donations.
President Neil Theobald and his wife, Sheona, were among a group of volunteers from Temple's School of Medicine who helped apply a fresh coat of paint to one of Bright Hope’s meeting rooms.
“We’re standing on history,” said Theobald, “The fact that King, was here in ’63 makes this an important piece of North Philadelphia. Participating in projects like this is important, they help keep us connected.”
Nearly 50 years ago, on Oct. 27, 1963 members of Bright Hope Baptist Church gathered at the corner of 12th Street and Cecil B. Moore Ave to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give an address in celebration of the church’s groundbreaking.
Back then a vision for the church was just beginning to take shape. Now, nearly a half century later, the church has succeeded in its mission by becoming a cornerstone in the North Philadelphia community.
Over at Girard College, the host site for this year’s signature service projects, Temple students joined a record 110,000 volunteers who were dispersed to more than 1,500 community service projects across the city.
“I didn’t expect to be volunteering with so many people,” said Jason Garcia, a student from Mariana Bracetti Academy charter school who shadowed a Temple student during the day of service. “It’s good to know this many people care. I hope I can do this again next year.”