Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
A cornerstone of a Queens education is service learning but this year on Martin Luther King Day, the focus was on service doing.
"We learn as we do," said Bill H. Means, Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, which spearheaded the MLK Day efforts this year. Forty-nine students volunteered for service and went out to four sites around Charlotte where they worked for nonprofit organizations, but also partnered with 67 inner city middle school students enrolled in Right Moves for Youth.
By leaving campus, "service becomes more of a reality for them," Means said. Instead of simply instilling the concept of giving back while learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his life, the students live his legacy. "One of his legacies has to be for individuals to give back to communities."
Students created Hats for Happiness for cancer patients, or went to Our Lady of Consolation St. Martin De Porres food pantry or Sugar Creek Recreation Center. One group went to McDowell Nature Preserve in south Charlotte to help cut back the kudzu by a children's playground.
Freshman Zach Trammel had expected to be stuck inside at a school, but he was instead thrilled to be doing work outside. "It's wonderful," said the pre-nursing student. "We're working together as a team, and it shows that we can come together as a community and work for something that's bigger than ourselves."
Sophomore sociology major Carmen McIver was involved in last year's MLK Day events on campus, but was glad to be out in the community this year. "This one is different because we're not just at one location. We're not teaching it, we're putting it into action. We're not talking about giving back, we're actually doing it."
And not only giving to the nature preserve, but also to the kids of Right Moves for Youth, she said. "They don't get to see people giving to them every day. So, in a sense you are giving back to them, and we are all coming together to give back to a community."
Twelve-year-old Matthew Price appreciated the day out of doors chopping down kudzu with saws and shovels. "It's fun to help the community, and especially because we are doing it on Martin Luther King Day it's special," he said. "Martin Luther King tried to get everyone to work together, all races, and now all of us are out here working together and having a good time."