Why JustServe and FamilySearch were at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade

Mesa, Arizona, event includes information about how to use JustServe and FamilySearch to help all of God’s children

When thousands of Arizonians from around Mesa and Phoenix’s East Valley came out in the rain on Jan. 16 to pay tribute to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., they were also able to learn about how JustServe and FamilySearch could help meet his vision of service.

The Mesa-East Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 25th anniversary celebration included a parade and community festival, where JustServe and FamilySearch participated. is a website and app where community organizations can list their needs and connect with volunteers. offers genealogical records, education and software. Both resources are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Adam Anderson, a JustServe specialist in Mesa, said more than 50 people came out to participate with JustServe in the parade.

“Even with inclement weather, there was a lot of enthusiasm as we celebrated with our partners in honoring Dr. King’s legacy of love and service,” Anderson said. “The purpose of JustServe resonates with his dream of bringing people together to better serve our communities. It was wonderful to honor that shared vision.”

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JustServe volunteers and partners wave from a float in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Mesa, Arizona, Jan. 16, 2023. | Milo LeBaron
JustServe volunteers Ari Anderson, front left, and Annette Bushman, front right, walk with others and pass out candy and wristbands along the parade route route on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16, 2023, in Mesa, Arizona. | Milo LeBaron

The float highlighted JustServe’s partnership with local nonprofits and ministries and included a quote from Dr. King which read, “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. ... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Pastor Mike Scott from the Family of God Christian Fellowship church was among the JustServe partners who participated. The organization provides aid to the hungry and homeless and uses JustServe to invite the community to participate in these efforts.

“I’m so happy to be here today to celebrate the vision of Dr. King and our partnership with JustServe,” said Pastor Scott.

He continued: “I love JustServe because it invites others to come alongside to help. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is a blessing to us. They don’t come to take over but help you do what you’re already doing.”

Pastor Mike Scott and Deacon Rodney Coleman from the Family of God Christian Fellowship church, third and fourth from front right, ride on the JustServe float during a parade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Mesa, Arizona, on Jan. 16, 2023. | Milo LeBaron

Elder John W. Lewis, an Area Seventy in the North America Southwest Area, attended the parade with his family. As the JustServe float passed by, he greeted many of the participants he knew with a hug.

“It was a delight to see JustServe participating in the MLK celebration,” Elder Lewis said. “As Latter-day Saints, it’s an honor to support our friends in the community in this way.”

In addition to the float, JustServe volunteers and members of the FamilySearch team from the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center hosted information booths at the festival. People stopped by to learn more about volunteering through JustServe and family history resources.

Christy Laidig, right, and Carley Willis, left, talk with festival goers about JustServe in Mesa, Arizona, during Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations on Jan. 16, 2023. | Milo LeBaron

Carley Willis, a JustServe specialist in the Mesa Arizona North Stake, answered questions and shared information.

“I really enjoyed seeing teenagers and younger kids stop by the booth and chat about JustServe. They like to serve and need service hours for school and thought it was really cool,” said Willis.

She said a woman who recently ran a nonprofit in Chicago came by the booth and told her how much she loved service. She told Willis she wanted to learn more about JustServe, saying, “How did I not know about this?”

At the family history booth, missionaries shared information about how people can discover and capture their own family stories and create an account on FamilySearch. Information about activities for Black History Month was also shared.

Elder Tom Koniuszy is a full-time missionary who serves in the FamilySearch area of the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center. “There are so many resources available to help people discover and preserve their family history,” he said. “It was a pleasure to be at the festival and invite others to come to the visitors’ center and begin their family history journey.”

Elder Tom Koniuszy and Mesa-East Valley MLK Event Committee member Chuck Harvey enjoy a conversation at the festival on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Mesa, Arizona, Jan. 16, 2023. | Delynn Bodine

The theme of the anniversary celebration was “What are you doing for others?” The event also included an honorary street naming after Dr. King in Mesa.

At the street naming event, Mesa East Valley MLK Committee President Keisha A. McKinnor asked, “Are we willing enough, like Dr. King, to love our fellow man like God loved us?”

As she thanked those who supported the effort, McKinnor said: “It’s about us coming together. It’s not about working in silos. If we want to see that dream fulfilled ... it takes the sum of all of us to do that, to be willing to move toward action.”

— Delynn Bodine contributed to this report.

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