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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: A Day of Service to the “Beloved Community”

Published on Jan. 16, 2023

As pediatricians, we are committed to providing the best care to the kids and families we serve. But our calling goes much further than the walls of our hospital and clinics. It transcends medicine. We believe we are called to serve each other and lift up others’ needs for the greater good.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called this type of service part of how we might achieve “the Beloved Community,” a world where everyone is cared for and valued and where poverty, hate and hunger don’t exist. With his Beloved Community, Dr. King envisioned a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings.

My resident colleagues and I hold a deep commitment to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s idea of the Beloved Community. We believe that when time is dedicated to giving back to our communities, we can make a positive, lasting impact on the health and well-being of children and families. Taking part in community outreach and engagement also gives young physicians insight into who their communities are made of, what changes need to be made to preserve families’ collective health, and feel a sense of connection to the people who make the Central Valley such a wonderful place. 

This commitment has led our residents to seek out opportunities to serve our communities in ways beyond medicine.

In December, first-year resident Dr. Rajvee Sanghavi led our team’s participation in Family Literacy Night at the Mary Ella Brown Community Center in Fresno. During the event, Dr. Sanghavi provided education for families in English and Spanish on important health and prevention topics. But perhaps more importantly, she listened to families’ questions and concerns about health and prevention topics and answered them in real time. For the children at the event, Residency Associate Program Director Dr. Carmela Sosa read the Spanish version of “Home for the Holidays: A Little Book about the Different Holidays That Bring Us Together.” This time interacting with families outside of the clinical setting gave us a stronger feeling of connectedness with the communities we serve each day.

Through service, we’re inspired to help those who might follow in our footsteps as medical professionals. Our partners at Cutler-Orosi School District invited us to their annual College and Career Fair last October. Second-year resident Dr. Marcie Nakatsuchi and I led the interactive event, which included a mentorship talk outlining career possibilities in healthcare and the road to becoming a doctor. We were so humbled when, after the event, multiple students approached us to say that they were inspired and felt empowered to pursue their dreams.

These efforts alone won’t create Dr. King’s Beloved Community. They won’t alone solve poverty, hate, hunger, injustice and inequality. But they are a contribution to the dream, and they show that actions done in the service of others – no matter how seemingly small – can comfort, inspire and empower generations to come. As Dr. King said, creating the Beloved Community will take a “qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” By serving others, we not only honor Dr. King’s memory and his dream, we make the world a better place.

So this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I want to encourage you to consider acts of service in your own community with Dr. King’s immortal words: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”


About the Author

Dr. Adrianna Sosa is a chief resident of Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program, affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine. Growing up in Sacramento, her dream to become a doctor began as she watched both of her parents heal their patients. Dr. Sosa recalls, “I knew I wanted to work with children during undergraduate as I was volunteering at my local hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.” When she’s not working, Dr. Sosa enjoys spending time with her partner, family, friends and pets.