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Spring Valley's MLK Center holding virtual gala fundraiser

Lohud.com, Westchester County logo Lohud.com, Westchester County 10/13/2020 Steve Lieberman, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

SPRING VALLEY — The dream of "Building a Beloved Community" is being broadcast on Facebook.

Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center officials are not letting the deadly coronavirus derail their mission of helping children, poor people, and seniors or raising money to support programs.

The center's annual gala will go virtual on Facebook at 7 p.m. Oct. 18, with speeches, discussions of goals, and entertainment.

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The coronavirus provided bumps for the center officials but didn't stop services, which are financed through donations and government subsidies. What the virus did was force the cancellation of the center's two annual fund-raising events.

The gala next week celebrates the center's students and goals, including buying property near the Bethune Boulevard building to convert into a safe play area for children.

The gala for the center's goal of "Building a Beloved Community" will feature Facebook streamed musical performances and updates on the center's activities.

Performers include jazz vocalist Shirley Crabbe; R&B band Cee Songbird and the Sound Travelers; saxophonist Herve Alexandre; urban folk singer-writer KJ Denhert; and the Eddie Vazquez Band. The center's children will present a selection from The Lion King, choreographed by TaShawn Pettiford.

The 56-year-old center began in 1964 as the Community Reading Room and evolved into a community resource for educating, feeding, health services, after-school time and summer camp, and promoting safety for women and children, among a bevy of programs.

The center serves families living in the county's diverse and culturally vibrant community of Spring Valley, where the pandemic struck hardest. The community saw the highest rates of illness, death, food insecurity, and academic slide due to school closures.

The virus's toll forced the state to support a clinic to test people for the disease.

As students across the county remain isolated in homes with the latest technology, too many of the center’s children lack access to laptops, tablets, and adequate internet service.

a group of people standing in front of a store: Nathan Mungin, MLK Executive Director, helps to load shopping carts full of food that were given out to residents at the food pantry program at the Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center in Spring Valley May 12, 2020. © Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News Nathan Mungin, MLK Executive Director, helps to load shopping carts full of food that were given out to residents at the food pantry program at the Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center in Spring Valley May 12, 2020.

As a result, center officials said in a news release the facility needs money to continue offering essential services, such as:

  • A food pantry that feeds hundreds of families a month. As Rockland’s County’s third-largest food bank, the center is on track to distribute 400,000 pounds of food.
  • Health services such as last spring’s COVID testing site, ongoing Red Cross blood drives, and a range of free medical services.
  • Modified summer and after-school academic and cultural programs for children.

The center's sponsors include Devon and Jason McCourty, Rockland’s New England Patriot football players, and the M&T Bank Foundation.

Tickets for the MLK gala can be obtained at Eventbrite or Facebook

Contact Barbara@BarbaraRossMiller.com for more information.

Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police, and investigations. Reach him at slieberm@lohud.com. Twitter: @lohudlegalRead more articles and bio. Our local coverage is only possible with support from our readers.  

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Spring Valley's MLK Center holding virtual gala fundraiser

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