While many of the city and borough’s top elected officials celebrated Martin Luther Kings Jr. Day yesterday with lofty speeches at BAM in the heart of one of Downtown Brooklyn’s more expensive neighborhoods, Brooklyn Nets players Sean Kilpatrick and Trevor Booker, used the holiday to give back to the children at the Ascend Lower School in Brownsville.
The NBA players took time to assemble and paint bookshelves and benches with the children that will be made into reading nooks.
“The event was awesome! We live in a community in which our children sometimes don’t get to do much outside of where they live, so it was really good to have players come from a basketball team come in and help our children work with their parents that they can then use throughout the school”, said Coelette Martindale, the 3rd through 4th grade Dean of Students at Ascend Lower School. 1501 Pitkin Avenue.
The professional basketball players were joined by City Year AmeriCorps members of New York and also parents and community advocates. The event was part of a bigger initiative by the school this year to promote a love for reading.
This was the first time City Year hosted a service event in connection with Ascend Lower School. City Year uses Martin Luther King Jr Day to hold service events across the nation on an annual basis and this year held one in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“It’s about Dr. Martin Luther King’s concept of the ‘Beloved Community’, where people who aren’t connected by blood tie or are familial tie just band together to do good for a cause other than themselves and that’s what today exemplified. It was wonderful, said Erika Hamilton, Executive Director for City Year New York.
The ‘Beloved Community’ was a concept the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prescribed for a healthy society and as it is explained below by The King Center, was a way to make the world happier and equal.
“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
The players hung out with the children for an hour as they played and painted. The players at one point even started painting each other and the kids. Booker ended up with paint not only on his hands but on his shoes as well.
“I think it’s important to come in and help the community and make these guys happy. Showing how their supporting us [Brooklyn Nets], and we’re supporting them [Brownsville community]. It’s always a good thing to give back and to let them know we have their back,” said Kilpatrick.
The players stayed longer, taking pictures and signing autographs with more than 100 students and parents that showed up to the event.
The Brooklyn Nets host the Toronto Raptors tonight at Barclays Center and will then go on to play the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.