In addition to fighting for equality for African-Americans, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong advocate for community service and helping those in need.
So it is in that spirit that the Northeastern University community came together for the MLK Day of Service and Leadership on Monday, a national day of service designated to celebrate the civil rights leader’s life and legacy.
“MLK Day of Service is about reaching out to help different members of the community, and educating people about what services are available to them,” said Chelsea Elder, SSH’17.
About 200 Northeastern students participated in service projects and workshops on campus at the Curry Student Center as well as at other locations in Boston’s neighborhoods. They were joined by Mass Promise Fellowship AmeriCorps members and 160 local youth. Northeastern’s Center of Community Service, in partnership with the Mass Promise Fellowship AmeriCorps program, organizes the annual day of service.
“The slogan for the MLK Day of Service is ‘It’s a day on, not a day off,’ and I think that really resonates with Northeastern students,” said Hilary Sullivan, the center’s associate director of service and community partnerships. “I think Northeastern students enjoy giving back and working in the community.”
The service day kicked off Monday morning with a keynote address in the Curry Student Center Ballroom by Yves Singletary, a youth and career development organizer with the city of Boston, and a former Mass Promise fellow.
Volunteers spent the morning working on various service projects, like making welcome signs for families staying in YMCA shelters and putting together program pamphlets for ZUMIX, a nonprofit that builds community through music and arts.
Among the Northeastern University student groups charged with leading service projects was the Mural Club, whose members worked with local youths on paintings specifically requested by Boston schools.
“It’s a really great day,” said Catherine Dello Russo, SSH’15, the Mural Club’s university ambassador. “The mission of the Mural Club is to bring art and murals into the Boston community and the MLK Day of Service and Leadership is one of our two major events, along with NU Service Day.”
Some Northeastern students like Jameson O’Reilly, S/E’19, were not affiliated with a specific student group but were similarly inspired to volunteer on Monday. He heard about the MLK Day of Service through the Civic Engagement Program, and saw it as a great opportunity to volunteer.
“I thought this would be a great thing to do,” said O’Reilly, who made thank you gifts for nonprofit volunteers the Center of Community Service works with.
The four off-campus locations where students performed community service were: the Franklin Park Coalition in Jamaica Plain, Susan Bailis Assisted Living on Massachusetts Avenue, St. Ambrose Family Shelter in Dorchester, and Boston Building Resources in Roxbury.
Volunteers also attended workshops in the afternoon at the Curry Student Center that touched upon a variety of topics such as a discussion on food justice and inspiring a social change movement around Ableism.