UW News

December 4, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is Jan. 19

During Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this past January, Mike Crandall’s eyes were opened. As part of a UW team that volunteered for the MLK Day of Service, Crandall stocked and distributed food at Cherry Street Food Bank in Seattle.

Volunteering at the Cherry Street Food Bank showed Crandall, a senior lecturer and chairman of the Master of Science in Information Management Program at the Information School, about both food banks and the need for help. He said, “I’d recommend the volunteer experience for anyone who wants to see the variety of people who depend on food banks, from families that have lost their homes to seriously disabled individuals who have fallen through other support systems.”

Organizers of the upcoming Day of Service, scheduled for Jan. 19, are seeking volunteers like Crandall.

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, asking Americans to celebrate not by taking the day off but by donating a day of service to their communities.

This year, there’s room for 1,600 UW volunteers to help 57 nonprofit agencies with 64 projects.

Registration for both volunteers and volunteer project leaders opens on Tuesday, Dec. 9. at the Day of Service Web site.

All members of the UW community — students, faculty, staff, alumni and their family and friends — are welcome, said Matt Wojciakowski, community engagement coordinator at the UW Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center.

The UW is United Way’s sole partner in the Day of Service. The Carlson Center coordinates the UW effort, which has grown from 700 UW volunteers in 2005 to 1,200 in 2008.

Some of this year’s opportunities:

  • EarthCorps: Plant trees, shrubs and ground cover as well as help with site maintenance at Cheasty Greenspace on Beacon Hill.
  • El Centro de la Raza: Help coordinate the MLK Day Rally & March scheduled for Jan. 21.
  • The Compass Center: Clean and brighten spaces for homeless women.
  • Seattle Audubon Society: Assemble Finding Urban Nature kits for third and fourth-graders.

Past projects have included revitalizing residents rooms at the Washington Care Center, a skilled nursing facility, and letting low to moderate-income residents know about the 15 tax preparation sites United Way of King County offers free of charge.

Maggie Fonseca, assistant director of the Ethnic Cultural Center/Theatre, was another volunteer for the Day of Service last January. She and 30 students repainted walls, doors and furniture at the Central Branch Preschool. Students get academic training on campus but benefit from the off-campus kind as well, Fonseca said.

Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs, urged faculty, staff and students to volunteer: “There is no better time for the UW community to hear the call of service.”

The National Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service offers a six-minute video about “a day on, not a day off.” “Now is the Time…” is at the group’s Web site.