CSLC to host MLK Day of Service and Solidarity

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Monday, February 15, 2018. MLK silent walk with students and faculty.

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Monday, February 15, 2018. MLK silent walk with students and faculty.

James Kilborn

Monday, Jan. 15, marked the 32nd observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday dedicated to the famous civil rights activist who championed racial equality and human rights during the 1960s. In celebration of the holiday, Grand Valley State University is hosting an MLK Day of Service and Solidarity on Saturday, Jan. 20, where students and faculty can engage and volunteer in local communities in the greater Grand Rapids area in honor of King. 

Rachael Zaborowski, a graduate assistant in the GVSU Community Service Learning Center (CSLC), encourages students to come out and participate in the Day of Service. 

“It’s a great way for students to come together, whether they’re individuals or groups, come together with a community partner, learn about how that partner connects to the legacy of Dr. King, and allow students to see how their hands-on service experience can be connected to the legacy of Dr. King, which happened years ago, but is still relevant today,” she said.

Zaborowski said that students will “get to go do four hours of service as well as get educated around the mission of the community partner and service site they are at.” The different community partners can be found on the CSLC website.

A diverse array of volunteer opportunities exists for those in attendance, such as working with 20 Liters, where students will have the chance to make water-cleaning solutions for countries where clean water isn’t accessible. 

“The Refugee Education Center is another one,” Zaborowski said. “Students will be writing thank-you notes to community partners and other volunteers for their service. It really helps the Refugee Education Center do that outreach they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do without volunteers.”

Bobby Springer, director of the Pathways to College Office and chair of the planning committee for MLK Commemoration Week, is hoping this week’s events will help students gain a new perspective for the holiday and encourage them to become active in their communities. 

“For Dr. King, it was bigger than himself,” Springer said. “A pastor, a Ph.D., he could have just done his nine-to-five every day, a comfortable life, a nice income, but he chose the high road, the tough road, where he wanted to make a difference for the people who couldn’t really speak for themselves.”

Springer hopes this day prompts students to ask themselves, “How can I get involved? How can I do my part? What ways can I make a difference to advance the cause for others outside of myself?”

The MLK Day of Service and Solidarity will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting at the Cook-DeWitt Center. Students were encouraged to RSVP before Wednesday, Jan. 17, although walk-ins are accepted. Lunch will be provided as students honor King by serving their local communities.