After a one-year hiatus, the Day of Service returns to Westbrook’s St. Hyacinth Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 17, offering free resources to those in need.

The event is important to the St. Anthony of Padua Parish, member Rita Smith said. It’s a way to give back in the nature of King, who aside from being a civil rights leader, advocated against poverty.

Heidi Stalling of Timeless Hair Creations in Westbrook donates her time to cut Debbie Lee’s hair at the 2020 event. Chance Viles / American Journal

Monday’s event will be scaled back some, but crucial resources will still be available at no cost, Smith said.

“We have five hairdressers, someone coming to do nails,” Smith said. “Catholic Charities is sending someone to do flu vaccine shots. We are having nurses do blood pressure, and someone from Prosperity ME to connect with new immigrants.”

Hot meals will be served, and housing agencies, doctors, lawyers and other resources will be available to assist those who are looking to improve their lives.

Representatives from the University of New England Dental Program won’t be providing dental screenings as they did at the last MLK service day in 2020, but they will attend to donate toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and other dental supplies.

UNE Dean of Communications Albert Abena said offering the items to people who might not have ready access to them is particularly important because poor dental hygiene can lead to gum diseases, which can be tied to physical and cardiovascular health problems.

At the church, Abena also will promoting the dental program’s community clinics.

“Our community clinic offers great services at reduced fees, but we do more than cleanings,” he said. “Many people don’t know we can do things like implants and extractions.”

The Rev. Lou Phillips, parish pastor, said the day is designed to be an active observance of the holiday.

“The parish wants to reach out to others in our community in practical and tangible ways, thus ‘celebrating’ rather than just ‘observing’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” he said in a prepared statement.

Smith said she’s already spoken with community members who will be attending because they need the resources that will be available.

It’s for their health or well-being. One person I talked with is coming because her teeth are in need of work,” Smith said. “But it’s not just giving things, but showing people how to help themselves, and that’s why the financial person is big and Prosperity ME.” 

The event is from 9-11:30 a.m. at the church, 268 Brown St. Masks are required.

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