After an eventful midyear program, our determined CCI students continued their commitment to serve their host communities in support of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. In line with Dr. King’s mission of civic activism, our students took on a variety of service activities, and the following are just a few highlights of those activities.
Addressing food insecurity was a popular service activity across the CCI host colleges. At Kirkwood Community College, CCI students learned about food insecurity in the United States and volunteered at the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) Food Reservoir. There, they labeled packets of oatmeal and helped prepare food backpacks for The Backpack program.
Valencia College CCI students also took on food insecurity by contributing their time with Straight Street Orlando in the downtown sector of Orlando, FL. The students spent their afternoon serving food to people in the Greater Orlando area, many of whom identify themselves as homeless and are suffering from medical illnesses. Francis Odame, a Building Construction student from Ghana said, “I feel a great sense of pride to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today by giving back to the community and to those less fortunate. It is God’s will that we help those in need and I feel like that is what Dr. King was all about during his life.”
Many of the Santa Rosa Junior College CCI cohort provided food to their local homeless populations, and because service doesn’t stop on MLK Day, Fox Valley Technical College CCI participants have plans to honor the event by volunteering with the Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin organization in Appleton, Wisconsin. Participants chose this activity because they were impressed by the organization and how it provides for a specific area, and will be sorting, organizing, labeling, and recording donation inventory.
CCI community service extended beyond serving people in the community and also addressed local environments. At Edmonds Community College, a massive community volunteer event was held at Gold Park, an ethnobotanical garden that is managed and cared for by members of the college. CCI students from Yemen removed noxious weeds, picked up trash, and planted species native to Washington State.
Significantly, MLK Service Day 2017 also focuses on embracing cultural and racial diversity. To enhance their understanding of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, Northern Virginia Community College CCI students attended the annual MLK Day of Service at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The morning began with introductions and a few videos that highlighted Dr. King’s life and contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. CCI students then participated in a group project making Paracord Bracelets and writing letters to service members and veterans. After the service event, students attended a workshop of their choice to discuss racism, bias, and Dr. King’s legacy. The CCI students worked alongside members of the GW community as well as other community groups. Akram Farag from Yemen said that he had “an amazing time volunteering.”
Meanwhile, College of DuPage students attended a Benedictine University event with keynote speaker Dr. Ernest E. Gibson. Dr. Gibson was “the first African American administrator hired by the newly chartered College of DuPage,” and he worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to plan the Montgomery and Birmingham Campaigns, the Selma March, and the March on Washington.
At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College students attended “Unity in my Community,” an event designed to inspire the community to unite together and share their own unique diversity with others. Students enjoyed live dance and musical performances by local artists, speakers inspired by the words of MLK, and local students’ poster, essay, and poetry presentations. The CCI students enjoyed learning about local diverse groups such as the African American, Hmong, Native American, and Hispanic populations in Green Bay.
Similarly, Northampton Community College CCI students were exposed to their diverse community by volunteering at a Poetry Night at Hava Java Cafe in Allentown. Magdalena Marbun explained that the poetry focused on the situations and struggles African Americans have in their daily lives and said “we got new understanding about racism and the history of Martin Luther King day.” To carry on the celebrations, Mesa Community College and Houston Community College had students volunteering and observing their local MLK celebration parades.
But CCI students didn’t just have their eyes on the past and present, they also looked to the future of civic engagement by working with fundraisers and projects focused on children. At Scottsdale Community College, CCI participants from Brazil, India and South Africa joined the 14th annual Phoenix Rock n’ Roll Marathon to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and other sponsored charities. Melissa Acevedo and Yasemin Betni at Bunker Hill Community College went to City Year Boston, an AmeriCorps program that works with low-income children and teenagers, to make an impact on future change-makers in America. Melissa and Yasemin had fun making and assembling materials like erasers, folders, and pencil cases for preschoolers and children, which would later be sent to several Boston public schools for children.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is an event that the Community College Initiative Program looks forward to every year. It is an opportunity for CCI students to share their pride and commitment to their U.S. communities, and to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of civic engagement. Between creating a better future for children, focusing on the health and well-being of the less fortunate in local communities, and embracing the diversity of the United States, the MLK Day of Service was a huge success!