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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Creating Healthier Communities through Service

Author: Dagayla Burks, MSHCA, Program Associate, Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/16/2015 10:38:00 AM
Category: Observances;

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve....You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each time that individuals unite to help others, a step is taken to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for a better world come true. Volunteer service is a great way to serve our communities and help make that dream a reality.

Millions of people throughout the country will participate in Dr. King’s legacy on January 19, 2015 as part of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This service day is part of United We Serve’s national call to service initiative and honors Dr. King’s life and ideals by empowering individuals throughout the nation to work together to serve the needs of the community through volunteerism.

Volunteers can dedicate their time and skills to help ensure that their communities are more resilient by volunteering with programs like the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The MRC is a national network of locally based and run groups of volunteers, organized and committed to strengthening public health, improving emergency response capabilities, and building the resiliency of their communities. It is a great example of people united from all walks of life that have a variety of skills, experiences, and backgrounds but unified by their mission.

Local MRC units and their volunteers are trained and work within their community’s local health, preparedness, and response infrastructure to be available to ensure there is a sufficient medical surge capacity and workforce in the event of an emergency. MRC volunteers also promote preparedness and serve as public health ambassadors to their communities in order to help reduce potential risks and vulnerabilities in their communities should an incident occur.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a great reminder to take a day, give back, and make a difference in our communities! However, volunteering is something that we can do throughout the year as well. The MRC is a great opportunity to get involved with the local community to make it more resilient, safe, and healthy.

For more information about volunteering or partnering with the MRC, please visit To learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, visit


What would you do as a MRC volunteer?

MRC volunteers train - individually and with other members of the unit - in order to improve their skills, knowledge and abilities. Sometimes the training is coursework, and other times it is part of a drill or exercise conducted with partner organizations in the community. Continuing education units and credits are even available for some programs. Many MRC volunteers assist with activities to improve public health in their community – increasing health literacy, supporting prevention efforts and eliminating health disparities. In an emergency, local resources get called upon first, sometimes with little or no warning. As a member of an MRC unit, you can be part of an organized and trained team. You will be ready and able to bolster local emergency planning and response capabilities. The specific role that you will play, and the activities in which you will participate, will depend upon your background, interests and skills, as well as the needs of the MRC unit and the community.
1/19/2015 11:25:53 PM

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