BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Diversity Council together with Autumn Lake Healthcare at Berkeley Heights hosted a Day of Service on Monday to honor and remember Martin Luther King Jr.  This annual event gives community members a local and meaningful opportunity to serve others. 

Volunteers of all ages gathered to play bingo alongside Autumn Lake residents. Jimmy Joseph from the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council said, “Today is a day of service, it’s an opportunity for us to give back to our community.”  Mayor Angie Devanney, Councilman Manny Couto, and Councilwoman Susan Poage were the first ‘celebrity guests’ to call the bingo numbers. Children patiently sat alongside their elderly partners and helped them place their bingo chips on their boards.  Another set of young volunteers were given the task of distributing prizes to the lucky winners. Prizes included a rich variety of candies, lotions, socks, nail polish, flashlights and pillows. In the back of the room other volunteers were busy making crafts for residents to keep as mementos of this special day. 

Also in attendance were Councilman Stephen Yellin, Councilman Alvaro Medeiros, Councilwoman Gentiana Brahimaj, Police Chief John DiPasquale, and New Providence Diversity Council Chairman Sunil Abrol.

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Over the years, this event has evolved into a resident favorite at the facility.  Cathy Balsamo from Autumn Lake said, “The children volunteering their time to interact with our residents really lights up their day and makes them so happy. This morning we talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and his mission -- so spending our afternoon this way, really brings it full circle for all of us.”

Mayor Devanney said, “It is amazing to watch our community come together to honor Martin Luther King Jr. From the youngest to the oldest residents, we are one community today playing bingo, helping one another and connecting as people.  Berkeley Heights is fortunate to have a hard working and involved Diversity Council who provides us all an opportunity to serve the community on such an important day.”

The national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was first presented by former Senator Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis. The federal legislation, titled ‘The King Holiday and Service Act’ was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994 and challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action in King’s honor.

Joseph closed the event by thanking Autumn Lake for the service opportunity and all the volunteers for coming out and spending time with the residents.  He closed the event with King’s quote, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”