Photo: The YMCA of Greater Charlotte

After a two-year pause for the pandemic, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte will resume its in-person breakfast to celebrate Martin Luther King Day — this year hosting an all-women panel that will focus on social injustices that impact underserved communities.

This year’s theme: Equitable Leadership During Challenging Times.

The panel will include Krista Terrell, president of the Arts & Science Council, and Kinneil Coltman, chief community and social impact officer at Advocate Health.

John Ham, board chair of the McCrorey Family YMCA, said the composition of this year’s panel is based on feedback from previous years. 

“We chose all women because we realize that a lot of challenges, as it relates to income gaps or climbing the corporate ladder, are often related or directly tied to women,” he said. 

“We also tapped into some young ladies who we felt were really making strides in our community.”

Over the years

Charlotte’s first MLK breakfast event was held in the early 1990s, when the McCrorey Family YMCA’s board of directors decided to celebrateKing’s mission for equality through a community event. About 200 people attended.

Since then, more than 1,000 have attended the breakfast. This year, the event’s expected turnout is around 1,300, according to Heather Briganti, vice president of communications at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. 

The celebration went virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed the YMCA branch to cut back on expenses usually associated with the event. However, during this time, virtual attendance was low and YMCA memberships also dwindled. 

Moving forward

The 2023 celebration will be held in person now that the Charlotte Convention Center has reopened and vaccinations are widely available.

“We have pretty much hit our goal, but we are still obviously looking for sponsors,” Ham said. “Tables have been filled, so it has proven that people are ready to get back in person.”

Funds received from sponsors will benefit the McCrorey Family YMCA directly and will support a new teen tech center, which educates teenagers about the latest software technology. Proceeds will also benefit after school programs and lessen the YMCA’s financial deficit. 

“People want to have that camaraderie that can’t be replaced without an in-person event,” Ham said. 

The M.L.K. Holiday Celebration will be held on Jan. 16 at 8 a.m. Doors will open at 7:15 a.m. Tickets are no longer available but, Ham said, they appreciate the community’s support.

Masks are not required, but will be provided.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that people attending the MLK breakfast would be required to show proof of Covid vaccination or a negative Covid test within 48 hours of the event. People attending the event are asked to be vaccinated but are not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result.

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Daija Peeler covers arts, culture, and faith in Charlotte.

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