One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous quotes asks an important question – “What are you doing for others?” Last week, SWMW Law employees answered by forfeiting their day off to help serve some of St. Louis’s most vulnerable residents.
“As lawyers, we put great stock in the power of words, but Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us that those words must be supported by action,” said Member Ben Schmickle. “Our firm is deeply committed to amplifying the voices of those who often go unheard and serving the communities that are often subjected to inequality and injustice. Because People Matter.”
For their Martin Luther King Jr. Day service project, SWMW employees joined forces with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that connects veterans with service projects in under-resourced communities. Together, they volunteered with The Ujima Project, a local nonprofit that provides equitable access to food, education and employment. The group worked to clean an abandoned lot in North St. Louis City, clear old flower beds, and build new ones – all in preparation for The Ujima Project’s future urban garden, George Washington Carver Farm. The farm takes abandoned, unsafe land and its place creates a space for fresh food for area residents.
For paralegal Laura Soehngen, the decision to volunteer was an easy one.
“Making an impact close to home is important to me,” Laura said. “This garden will help provide food for residents who struggle with food insecurity and having a part in easing that burden even a little bit is an honor. One I hope to do again.”
The service project was open to families, giving several employees the opportunity to get their children involved.
“I jumped at the chance to get my kids involved for several reasons,” said David Rabbitt, a law clerk at SWMW. “They not only learned what it is to give back, they had the opportunity to learn about Martin Luther King, what he stood for, what he represented to so many people, and how that correlated to what we were doing.
“For me, it also felt great to connect with people in person. It was a good reminder of what we fight for at SWMW,” he added.
Paralegal Abigail Wells agreed.
“I think it’s really important, especially with the kind of work we do, to get to know the community members around us,” she said. “We should all feel connected to each other.”
Leslie McCray, the firm’s office manager, was joined by two of her children. When asked if she was upset to work on her day off from school, McCray’s 11-year-old daughter Zoe was quick to respond.
“I think when you’re helping people, it doesn’t count as work,” she said. “I’d do it again any day.”
To learn more about the important work of The Ujima Project and its George Washington Carver Farm, visit their site here. To learn more about The Mission Continues and the opportunities it provides for veterans, visit here.