Look for ways to keep dream alive year-round

This weekend, we celebrate the life and message of Martin Luther King Jr. during the national holiday that marks his birth.

King's call to build a "beloved community" by bridging our racial and economic divides resonates here. Beaufort County played an important role in his work. Penn Center on St. Helena Island offered a private retreat that allowed King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to plan for and recover from their civil rights work.

Penn Center, from its beginnings during the Civil War, has defined outreach and community building.

A key part of this weekend's celebration is Saturday's MLK Community Service Day on Hilton Head Island. It begins with breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church. Volunteers will fan out from there to work until noon.

To organizers' credit, this is not a once-a-year event. Every fifth Saturday during the year -- about once a quarter -- people gather to help their neighbors.

The Fifth Saturday program, a cross-denominational community outreach program, began simply enough in 1998. Local clergy held a free ecumenical breakfast that January to celebrate King's birthday. It was such a success they decided to hold it quarterly, every fifth Saturday, and make it a community service day.

The idea not only was to do good works, but to bring together people from different parts of the community. Work followed a communal breakfast. On that Saturday, 30 people helped repair four houses. By the second Fifth Saturday in August, more than 100 people turned out to help.

More than a dozen years later, the work and fellowship continue. In October, the group cleaned the yard of a member of Hilton Head Island Safe Harbour. That group, too, is answering King's call to build a better community. Safe Harbour works to help Hilton Head residents stay in their own homes as long as possible as they grow older. It offers transportation to doctors, stores and social events; help with grocery shopping and household chores; respite for caregivers; and regular phone calls and visits.

We are blessed with myriad groups making a difference in many lives.

As we reflect on King's life during the next few days, let's also look for ways to answer his call throughout the year. Opportunities abound here to build a better community.