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JKRP’s MLK Day(s) of Service

By: Jennifer Murphy February 14, 2024 No Comments

A Recap by Jen Whary, Project Manager


JKRP Architects has always believed “a place is nothing without people.” In our projects, we incorporate this belief through building and fostering relationships with our clients and colleagues, where communication and collaboration are keys to success. Beyond the scope of our architectural work, this concept applies to the important connections we build within our Philadelphia community, where we have been working since 1984.

JKRP has participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service since at least 2009, back when we were a team of just a couple dozen (there are claims that we also participated in 2008, but there is no documented history that we could dig up in our archives). We’ve spent time painting schools, preparing meals, and cleaning animal shelters (which proves to be an office favorite time and again), among many other things. Since we started this annual initiative, our office has grown, and so has our commitment to serve our Philadelphia community.

As this year marked the 30th year of the MLK National Day of Service, we decided to bring together some of our long-time industry colleagues and make it an entire week of service. Together with structural engineers from Pennoni and O’Donnell & Naccarato, and MEP engineers from Alderson Engineering, LLC, we sent over 50 volunteers to seven different local non-profit organizations throughout the city over the course of several days.



“At the Ronald McDonald House, we started by learning about the organization’s history, the amazing things they do for hospitalized kids and their families, and a tour of the facility. By the time all that was wrapped up, I was ready to do literally anything that they asked of us.” —Michael Ferraioli, PE (Pennoni) 

In West Philadelphia, a team of seven volunteers did several odd jobs around the Ronald McDonald House for patients and their families, like cleaning dining areas, sanitizing children’s playrooms, and moving furniture. First opened here in Philadelphia fifty years ago, the Ronald McDonald House Charities accommodate families with hospitalized children free of charge. Currently, there are over 380 Ronald McDonald House programs worldwide. To get involved, visit



At Gift of Life Howie’s House in Center City, a team of eight volunteers baked several batches of baked goods as part of the Home Cook Heroes program. Howie’s House provides temporary living and support services to people who travel to Philadelphia to receive transplant care, and their Home Cook Heroes program prepares fresh meals served daily for Howie’s House guests. For more information on Howie’s House, visit



In what is sure to be an office favorite every year, we sent many volunteers to animal refuge programs at Morris Animal Refuge and Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Center City, and Pennsylvania SPCA in North Philadelphia. Our volunteers prepared enough dog enrichment toys to last a whole month, prepared adoption packets for the adoptable animals, cleaned and organized the adoption spaces as needed, and yes, much of the time was devoted to interacting one-on-one with the adoptable animals. To volunteer at these organizations, donate, or adopt a four-legged friend, visit,, and



At Philly House in Center City, a team of six volunteers spent the afternoon on small projects such as painting, serving lunch to guests, and participating in some friendly board game competition. Philly House is the city’s largest and longest-running homeless shelter for men, and the second-oldest mission in the country. The organization houses an average of 220 men each night, giving resources to those who need it. To lend a hand, visit



Although delayed a few days by a snowstorm, volunteers at Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) in Center City put their food preparation skills to the test, making hundreds of breakfast burritos and getting some quality pepper-dicing practice. MANNA is a non-profit nutrition and education organization, providing medically appropriate meals and food counseling to people in the Philadelphia region and beyond. To learn more about MANNA, become a volunteer or donate, visit their website:

Personally, I believe actions speak louder than words.  Show up and show out – be present and give everything you’ve got.  In my experience, offering time and service to people and organizations who need our help has been such a rewarding experience, not only for myself, but for the entire office.  We were thrilled to learn our consultant colleagues were looking for ways to expand their own volunteer programs, because together we were able to spread our efforts even further throughout the city and participate in several different types of volunteer opportunities. Along the way, we strengthened our personal and professional relationships (outside of email chains), and together, saw the direct impact on those we served. We received enthusiastic feedback from both volunteers and the organizations with whom we worked, to the extent that we are already planning our next service efforts throughout the year. Stay tuned to see what we do next — we can’t wait to grow our MLK Day of Service network in 2025!

If you want to work with JKRP Architects in their service efforts throughout the year, either as an individual volunteer or an organization that is looking to lend a helping hand, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Jen Whary, at