Proving that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream can sometimes come true, throngs of volunteers of different ethnicities, religions, genders and economic status spent the recent King Holiday beautifying parks in a day of service commemorating the slain civil rights leader’s life and work.

Volunteers from Service for Peace, AARP, the Miami-Dade County parks department and the Florida International University Center for Leadership and Service spruced up the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 6160 NW 32nd Ct.,  and Arcola Lakes Park, 1301 NW 83rd St.

“I’m proud to see all these young people, blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians helping out in a place like Liberty City,” said volunteer Zoila Alonso, 29, an FIU student.

The volunteers painted walls, planted grass, laid sod and removed litter and trash to make the facilities more welcoming to the community.

The result: 533 plants planted, 70 cubic yards of mulch spread, 17 gallons of paint used and two truckloads of sand spread on two playgrounds.

 “Parks and Recreation sponsored the materials but the amount of work would not have been possible without the help of all these volunteers,” said Angie Gomez, volunteer coordinator with the county parks department.

Students from FIU comprised the bulk of the volunteers.

“It’s amazing we had more than 400 volunteers sign up at FIU,” said Patty Lopez of FIU’s leadership center.

The university also funded a chicken-and-rice lunch for the volunteers.

Their work done by 1 p.m., service day participants gathered at the cultural arts center to reflect on the day.

Ray Fauntroy, who worked with King at the height of the civil rights movement, said his one-time colleague would have been proud.

“If Dr. King was here today,” Fauntroy said, “he would be on the streets organizing, he would be here with you students. You are the ones who make things happen.”

Luis Roca may be reached at