Marcus Harley called it a day on, not a day off.
Although he was off from his job as an assistant principal at Stewart Middle School, Harley and his wife, Katrina, volunteer their time with Keep Douglasville Beautiful event for the Rev. Martin Luther King Day Observance.
Keep Douglasville Beautiful built a fence around the Mill Village Community Garden.
Because of the pandemic, a large number of King Holiday Observance has been done virtually. In past years, visitors would come to Atlanta to pay tribute to the slain civil rights leaders in his hometown.
Harley brought some volunteers from his mentor group ROOLA (Raising Overchievers Outlier Leadership Academy) to take part in the day of service.
“We focus on the community and manhood training,” Harley said. “We all live in the community and this is what we do. I try to teach our young men that they are the gatekeepers of their community and they need to get involved.”
Keep Douglasville Beautiful executive director Chan Weeks said the organization has done a project the last two MLK holidays. This year, the volunteers were scaled back because of the pandemic and social distancing.
“I think we have a real good group of volunteers out here,” Weeks said. “This is just about the number of people that we need.”
Mill Village resident Scott Powers leaned his do-it-yourself skills to helping erect the fence, which will surround the community garden that was installed last spring.
Powers said his company gave the employees the day off in order to commit to community service.
“This is a beautifully diverse community,” Powers said. “I don’t think there is a better place in the county that a community garden serves a big need. The city has invested in this community and organizations like Keep Douglasville Beautiful has been a big help.”
Weeks said the fence will probably not be completed in one day, but it has started to take shape.
Lithia Springs High junior Kenny Payne Jr., a member of ROOLA, volunteered on Monday.
“It feels good to help the community,” he said. “This is a very special day. You just have to get involved.”
Nick Pehrson, an intern at Keep Douglasville Beautiful through AmeriCorps VISTA, helped coordinate the event.
A junior at Emory University, Pehrson took the year off from his studies because of the pandemic, and volunteered with AmeriCorps VISTA.
“This garden provides free harvest for a lot of people,” said the Washington, D.C., native. “This is a very important project that is taking shape.”