On January 21st, three students from Toms River High School South's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, under the guidance of club adviser, Charlene Wallace, attended and spoke at a community celebration and service honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Second Baptist Church of Toms River.
South's Habitat for Humanity members, Dylan Wallace, president; Reagan Czech, vice president; and Marina Rivera, treasurer, were presented with a series of questions based on the topic "Youth Reflections on Dr. King's Impact on Life." They were also asked by Rev. William A. Greene Jr., D.Min., to compose an essay and present their responses in front of church and community members.
Among the people in attendance included Congressman Andrew Kim, Freeholder Virginia Haines, Mayor Carmen Amato of Berkeley Township, Mayor Gregory Handshy of South Toms River, Suzen Fichtner from Ocean County's Habitat for Humanity, along with various council members and distinguished faith leaders.
Below are a few excerpts from the students' essays which answered the question: How has Dr. King inspired you?
Dylan Wallace: Dr. King's honor, above all else, is what has inspired me. He never fought back even when incarcerated or abused because he would only be proving those monsters right if he did. Now more than ever I see that honor is needed. I try to keep my moral compass aligned with Dr. King's, because he always knew that giving in only gives them power. The one thing you have control of is your actions, and they will always demonstrate who you really are.
Reagan Czech: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has inspired me to always speak my opinion, whether it is widely supported or not. He was brave when he began preaching his ideas to listeners and his courage was evident up until the end. He has inspired me to pursue my dream that all men are equal, to make sure nobody is excluded based on race, ethnicity or anything else.
Marina Rivera: Dr. King has inspired me to stand up for the things that I believe in and to never give up hope when faced with social injustice. His legacy has also taught me that as a society we need to stick together and defend our people.
Congressman Andy Kim commented on a "job well done" to all three students. Dylan, Reagan, and Marina proudly represented today's youth, as well as Habitat for Humanity and Toms River High School South. Let us continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.