MLK Day of Service
After months of planning and preparation, the MLK Day of Service took place on January 24, 2015. The event was a great success with over 450 volunteers coming together to serve Houston’s Third Ward community and beyond.
We often go about our lives without realizing that there are people living right in our community who are not as fortunate as we are. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., we wanted to dedicate a full day to serving this community. Grace Schwarz, a sophomore Bonner Leader and co-organizer of UH MLK Day of Service, conceived this idea and initiated planning for the project with her Bonner co-organizer Kaitlyn Palividas in 2013, while they were both freshmen. With the help of the Bonner Leaders Program, the Honors College, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Center for Student Involvement, the Metropolitan Volunteer Program, the Office of Government and Community Relations, and the Baptist Student Ministry, this idea became a reality. This team from across campus successfully organized the largest service event in UH’s history.
Our team arrived on site at seven in the morning to prepare for the first group of volunteers. The organizing team delivered a hearty welcome to everyone who came out early on a Saturday morning, energized and ready to serve. While faculty and staff members drove to the Houston Food Bank to volunteer, students were assigned to buses and went off campus to neighboring community partner sites for their shifts.
These partners included Forge for Families, Generation One, Interfaith Ministries, the Houston Public Library, the Houston Food Bank, and the UH Office of Sustainability, all of whom were eager to welcome volunteers. Students painted walls, organized books, cleaned kitchens, mulched playground, cleared empty lots, and packaged food. They also got a chance to talk service with UH President Renu Khator, who spent most of the morning visiting job sites.
“When the day concluded, what I was most proud of was the leadership of our Bonners,” said Kaitlyn Palividas. “The event ran very smoothly due to the efforts of our program and campus partners to promote professionalism and remain enthusiastic throughout the entire process.” While the Day of Service was one day set aside for outstanding commitment to our community, we hope to have reminded all the volunteers of how rewarding service can be. We also hope that they were re-introduced to the historic Third Ward neighborhood.