Celebrate MLK Day with the York City nonprofit giving local boys support

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Tavon Parker, born and raised in York City all his life, grew up only knowing Crispus Attucks as the place to be on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Now in a position to give back to the community, Parker is hosting his own Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

"I just wanted to be able to take advantage of the fact that not too many community resources offered anything on Martin Luther King Jr. Day," Parker said. "We wanted to be able to just provide another opportunity for the city."

From right, special education teacher and volunteer Kristen King, of Springettsbury Township, and mentor Soji Otuyelu, of Spring Garden Township, work with Micah Patterson, 8, and Teyana Parker, 5, as members of The Advantage Program meet at the community center in York City, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. Parker is the daughter of the program's creator Tavon Parker. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The "I Have A Dream Conference" is slated from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 16 at the YMCA Tech Rev Center, 301 W. Market St. The event is hosted by Parker's nonprofit, The Advantage Program, an organization dedicated to helping York's youth succeed in life.

Like many of the events offered by The Advantage Program, the conference will provide both kids and adults with learning opportunities in social etiquette, hygiene, bullying and social media.

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Parker's Advantage Program got its start in 2021.

As part of the program, participating students attend weekly meetings on topics such as financial literacy, community involvement, entrepreneurship and personal hygiene. 

Tavon Parker speaks during the Juneteenth York celebration at Voni Grimes Gym in York City, Sunday, June 19, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Each month, an overall theme guides weekly lessons and culminates in a trip outside York County. 

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Along with educational components, the planned conference will feature guest speakers and a presentation about Martin Luther King Jr.

Participating guests will include Jamiel Alexander, Mu Nu Sigma Chapter of York and the Social Friendship Masons Lodge.

Alexander, who for 10 years worked as a manager of youth and family programs at Crispus Attucks, now serves on the boards for various organizations, including the York City General Authority Commission and the York NAACP.

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Following a morning of education, attendees will get to use the YMCA's facilities for swimming and basketball in the afternoon, Parker said.

Participants will be encouraged to build goals — in stride with the new year — and will have the chance to win awards and prizes.

Chief Executive Officer Tavon Parker, of The Advantage Program, at the community center in York City, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021.  Dawn J. Sagert photo

"We just wanted to do this for the community and be able to provide an opportunity for the speakers, as well as the community, to just kind of grow," Parker said. "I'm really looking forward to watch the community be built right in front of our eyes."

The event is free, and those interested can RSVP by visiting https://www.eventbrite.com/e/i-have-a-dream-conference-tickets-499859421987. Registration takes a few minutes and only requires an email address to complete.