Students and community members gather for MLK day of service

The UW kick-off event for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service attracted more than 300 volunteers to the HUB Ballroom

Photo by Sara Koopai

Around 300 people, each wearing a shirt with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr., gathered in the HUB Ballroom on Monday morning for the UW kick-off event for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

The service, meant to inspire approximately 1,700 volunteers who plan to participate in the day of service nationwide, hosted various speakers and organized service groups.

The United Way of King County coordinated more than 90 volunteer projects, which included habitat restoration, neighborhood cleanup, painting a preschool, and playing games at a home for elderly people with dementia.

Matt Wojciakowski, community engagement coordinator at the Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center, said the kickoff is one of the few UW-sponsored events that welcomes not only students, faculty, staff, and alumni but also people who live around the campus.

“We really wanted to have a place where everyone could gather together and get centered on why we’re doing service today and remember the legacy of Dr. King,” Wojciakowski said.

Sheila Edwards Lange, vice president of minority affairs and vice provost for diversity at the UW, read a proclamation from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn that encouraged citizens to embody Dr. King’s philosophy not only on the day of service, but every day.

“Although today is important … to realize Dr. King’s dream, all of us must be committed to a lifetime of service rather than just a day,” Lange said.

She said it is important to recognize and respond to injustice in the community and hoped that today would inspire volunteers to do that in the future.

Ed Taylor, dean and vice provost of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, closed the event with a reading from President Barack Obama’s call to service on MLK day and a commentary on what it means to serve and to be committed to justice.

“We’ll serve because someone simply said, ‘Do something for somebody,’” Taylor said.

At the end of his speech, Taylor asked volunteers to fill out a commitment card that asked for the volunteer’s name, a description of what they will commit to, and what their dream is.

“I will commit to dedicating my life to the preservation and promotion of human rights, and my dream is to be happy,” senior Lauren Martin wrote.

Junior Emily Tran, a Dream Project volunteer, reaffirmed her commitment to ensuring all children an opportunity for higher education. She said she dreams of a place where people recognize and celebrate their differences.

Attendees placed the cards in baskets and left for their volunteer locations with the words of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech playing in the background.

Reach reporter Amy Busch at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @amybusch2

Please read our Comment policy.