UTB to Honor MLK’s Memory through Day of Service
BROWNSVILLE, TX – JANUARY 15, 2013 – An anticipated 700 volunteers will fan out across Brownsville from Dean Porter Park to give back to their community at roughly 25 service projects on Monday, Jan. 21 as part of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s third-annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
The MLK Day of Service is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students in partnership with the University Scholars Program, which planned the service projects and recruited volunteers.
The goal of the project is to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and teachings into a community service event that helps to address the community and social justice issues facing our community, according to Heather Olague, University Scholars Coordinator.
“This service event is a valuable tool to help teach our students the importance of giving back to the community that has supported them as well as advocate for groups who experience mistreatment of oppression,” said Olague. “We hope to show students the needs of the community and how they can donate their time to give back to others.”
The volunteers will assist roughly 25 nonprofit organizations in a variety of tasks ranging anywhere from gardening at the Spanish Meadows retirement home to bathing and feeding animals at the Brownsville Animal Shelter. Each service project was established by the University Scholar Service Project Committee with two scholars overseeing the 20 member committee. Other aspects of the event were covered by separate committees including the Logistics Committee, the MLK Fair Committee and the MLK Program Committee.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated ‘What are you doing for others?’ It is important to keep this in mind throughout our lives and give back to our communities in areas that are in need – remove our blinders every now and then,” said Alexandra E. Rodriguez, a junior International Business and Finance major and University Scholar who has participated in the event since it began in 2010. “One would be surprised to see the amount of help that is needed in our community.”
The anticipated pool of volunteers for this year comes from the roughly 200 students who make up the University Scholars Program. The remaining 500 volunteer members will consist of students, faculty and staff from UTB and TSC as well as community members volunteering their time.
Volunteers are to gather at 8 a.m. at Dean Porter Park for registration, coffee and donuts. Participants will be assigned projects on-site and leave to their respective locations at 8:30a.m. Each service project should have an estimated 20 members per group. The volunteers will reconvene at noon at Dean Porter Park.
“Once their project assignments are complete, all of the volunteers are invited back for lunch, our afternoon program and to attend our MLK Fair at Dean Porter Park,” said Olague. “The MLK Lunch program and fair will provide an opportunity to reflect on our Day of Service, Dr. King as a leader and to recognize a community member who models the values of Dr. King.”
The MLK Fair includes several educational booths and activities aimed at teaching participants and children about Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez’s lives and teachings as well as about the topics of segregation, discrimination and the civil rights movement. There will also be face-painting, a cup-cake walk and basketball. Entertainment will be provided in the form of live music and student keynote speakers. Lunch will be provided for all participants.
This year, the University Scholars program was awarded a grant by the César Chávez Foundation to continue their community service-based efforts and expand the program. As part of these efforts, the University Scholars Program is having a canned food drive set for the morning of the event to coincide with the National MLK Food Drive. All volunteers are asked to bring canned good donations to be given to the Brownsville Food Bank.
“Seeing the community come together and follow-up year after year to participate again makes [the work] very satisfying,” said Rodriguez. “You get to see the progress and completion of projects that really do make a difference in our community. Witnessing the before and after product of your hard work, and the gratitude individuals and groups [express], makes it all worth it.”
For more information about the event, contact Heather Olague in the Dean of Students Office at 956-882-5775.
To learn more about the University Scholars Program visit utb.edu/sa/uss.
The campus will be closed and there will be no classes in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 21.