Dorothy King says taking initiative runs in her family. She helped the Urban League break the color barrier at Illinois Bell in Chicago in the late 1940s, which led to the integration of Ma Bell coast to coast.
She received the Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award for her project, Personal Service Center Inc., which she established in 1970. She was honored for providing jobs, with flexible hours for lower income women. President Jimmy Carter honored King for her volunteer work associated with the project.
She volunteered her services seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help these underserved Denver women of all ages and races to get a start in the job market.
A $500 award, contributed by United Bank, helped her to establish Mrs. King's Personal Service business. It started with four women taking in ironing for people who needed this service. The center also operated a clothing bank, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta, a service sorority, with donations from customers and referrals from public schools.
She taught job skills, hired handicapped women and kept files of community resources to help her double as a volunteer social worker.
In addition, clothes were also provided to safe houses for battered women, Independence House (male prisoners), the Denver Rescue Mission and three times a year, rural blacks in Holly Springs, Miss.
A woman who could neither speak nor hear and had tunnel vision was sent to King by the state. King worked for six months on Saturdays to train her.
King helped Ethiopian refugees find jobs and get furniture and clothing. She volunteered for the Urban League (Displaced Homemakers Board). She ran Show Wagon, was an advisor to the NAACP youth group, established a readers group for USA-NESCO and her efforts go on and on.
As a wife and mother of a son and daughter, she was an ordinary woman who did extraordinary volunteering. She is 90 years old.
Courtesy: Donnie L. Betts and Denver Public Library
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