MLK Day of Service and Solidarity goes virtual this year


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Melia Williams, Staff Writer

The Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) provides co-curricular community service opportunities for Grand Valley State University students in an effort to give everyone an opportunity to become active in the campus community through service. The CLSC’s mission is to empower students to be active global citizens on both community and democratic levels. 

Every year, the CSLC partners with the MLK committee for the final event of the GVSU commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: the MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity.

In a normal year, the CSLC works with community partners throughout West Michigan to provide volunteer opportunities for students and participants are typically sent out on buses to work on different projects in the surrounding communities. 

“This year since we are at alert level three, we decided not to put students on buses,” said Associate Director of Student Life Melissa Baker-Boosamra. 

The alternative for this year is that there are a number of workshops and service activities that are taking place on GVSU’s campus. This year’s projects are all what the CSLC calls hosted projects.

Hosted projects are small things that they can do in-house that will then be given to people that need it said Civic Engagement Associate Abigail Caswell. 

The CSLC has a wide variety of different projects that could benefit members of the community. Past examples of hosted projects that could make a return this year include decorating bagged sack dinners, making bracelets for kids going through the court system and writing thank you letters to active service members. 

In addition to allowing students to connect with one another and learn about Dr. King, the MLK Day of Service gives students the opportunity to actually do something for the greater good of the community. 

“There’s lots of learning, lots of connecting and lots of ways to do meaningful service and give back,” Baker-Boosamra said. 

Students will have the opportunity to choose from four different workshops that will all be hosted from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m on Jan. 22 said Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement Giavonna Ward. 

These presentations include Disability Support Resources & Equity – Supporting Peers with Autism, LGBT Resource Center – Colors of Pride, Wellness Peer Educators – How Your Identity and Activism Intersects With Your Wellness, and Cook Leadership Academy – The Legacy of Leadership.

The keynote speakers for this event include Lisa Knight, who serves on many boards and committees that serve marginalized communities in Grand Rapids. There will also be a panel of GVSU students to talk about activism, which will be beneficial for students looking to hear the point of view of their peers.

“The event will be eye opening and make people reflect,” Caswell said. 

The MLK Day of Service will not only help students to understand the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., but it will also show why community service is important. Notably, registration for the community service part of the event has not closed as of time of publication. Students can register at

“Registration is open until we reach capacity, and we aren’t there yet,” Baker-Boosamra said. 

Although this is not the typical MLK Day of Service GVSU students are used to, the CSLC is happy the event is happening at all. 

“We are glad that we are able to pivot, and excited about the fact that we can still find ways that students can connect and give back even though it is different than the ways it normally is,” Baker-Boosamra said. 

The CSLC has a number of different events planned out for the remainder of the semester. These include Democracy 101, multiple blood drives beginning Jan. 27 and drop-in days of service so students can get service hours without going off-campus starting Jan. 28. For more information on the MLK Day of Service or other events throughout MLK week, visit