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STEP, partners present Dream Week to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

To honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., STEP AmeriCorps. will partner with Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming College, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the United Way of Lycoming County, the United Churches of Lycoming County, and the Lycoming Tri-County NAACP to present Dream Week 2024, from Jan. 15 to Jan. 20, a press release said.

“MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service,” the release said, “to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.”

“It really means remembering and recognizing the work that Dr. King did,” Carrie Bruning, Program Manager, STEP AmeriCorps said, “and then continuing to carry that on in our own community and offering opportunities for community members to serve as well.”

The week will kick off on Monday with two Dream Read events at the James V. Brown Library, the first, at 10 a.m. for kids, with a later reading for teens and adults beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Also at noon on Monday, will be the STEP AmeriCorps Peace Walk, which will step off from the corner of Third and Market streets, next to the Jackie Robinson statue, making an approximately one-mile loop, and returning to the statue, the release said.

“Attendance can fluctuate based on the weather,” Bruning said, “but we had around 100 participants at the Peace Walk last year, and we had really good weather for it.”

On Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m., Pennsylvania College of Technology will host “Dinner and Discussion” in the PCT Field House. Led by trained facilitators from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and STEP, the poverty simulation “will help participants understand the impacts of poverty on everyday life,” according to a press release.

“Essentially, this is a roleplaying exercise,” said Meghan Delsite-Coleman, assistant director of student engagement for Penn College, “where each participant is assigned a role as a family member, and each family is made up of a variety of different demographics.”

“And then around the perimeter of the simulation are different people representing businesses or service agencies, and you basically go through a month in the life of your assigned member. It’s broken into four weeks, where you have money in your bank, and you have to accomplish certain things, like enrolling your child in daycare and buying groceries. But you only have $200 in your bank right now, so how are you going to prioritize that?”

“And then we do a debrief where we talk about what was learned and share some more information because poverty isn’t always what you think it is,” Delsite-Coleman said, “it’s not always what it looks like in the movies. And there are some really amazing resources that exist in Lycoming County if you are facing poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, any of those systematic barriers and then we eat a fabulous dinner.”

Penn College will also host several on-campus events for student participants only, but Delsite-Coleman stresses that members of the public are more than welcome to come and observe them.

On Saturday, The United Churches of Lycoming County will host a “Meal and a Message” at Sojourner Truth Ministries, 501 High Street, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the release said.

“We’re going to be serving tacos, Spanish rice, and cornbread,” said Tammey L. Edkin, Executive Director for United Churches of Lycoming County.

“We will be gathering any volunteers that want to participate at New Covenant United Church of Christ from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday evening to make the bulk of the meal ahead of time.”

“Jan. 18 to the 25 of every year is the Week of Prayer for Christian unity,” Edkin continued, “so it always kind of ties in with Dream week, and we love that.”

Volunteers are needed both to prepare the meal on Friday and to serve it on Saturday.

Additional volunteer opportunities during Dream Week will be available through YWCA North Central PA on Tuesday, and at the Loyalsock Childcare Center/East Lycoming YMCA throughout the week.

For a full schedule of events, to volunteer, or to sign up, please visit