By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University is continuing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an MLK Day of Service.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, more than 300 TSU students and volunteers participated in various projects around Nashville that included working with kids, assisting elderly residents, packing food, painting and hanging photos.
The MLK Day of Service at TSU is organized each year by the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement to give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to celebrate King’s legacy through service.
The center was one of six organizations to receive federal and matching funds two years ago from the Corporation for National and Community Service to mobilize volunteers to honor King’s memory through service projects.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in service, and this initiative falls in line with not just his belief, but TSU’s motto – Think. Work. Serve,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We’re proud that TSU was selected as one of six institutions to help lead this national service project.”
Like the other institutions, TSU mobilizes students and community volunteers to take on projects around the city.
Barbara Dudley, a senior economics and finance major, was one of about 25 students who cleaned windows, sanitized chairs and shelves, moved trash and cleaned the yard and the parking lot at Grace M. Eaton Child Care and Early Learning Center on Saturday.
“It feels really good to give back,” Dudley said. “I have always had a passion for service and for children and to be able to help at a day care just makes it more meaningful for me.”
Mahalia Howard, the executive director of the center, agrees.
“I think it is wonderful for young people to give back to the community,” she said. “What they are doing for us here today is a blessing because we are a non-profit. We don’t have the funds to pay for the things they are doing. What they are doing is helping to support at-risk students.”
In La Vergne, Tennessee, more than 30 volunteers performed various chores for elderly residents at AHEPA 343, an independent living apartment complex for seniors. They cleaned living areas, moved trash, hung pictures, and moved furniture.
Linda Tynan, 68, a six-year resident, who just needed company, was moved to tears by the students’ willingness to help.
“I think its terrific to see these students take up their time to come and lend a hand to people they don’t even know,” Tynan said. “What they are doing today might not seem much to them, but I appreciate every minute of it.”
Dr. Linda Guthrie is the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. She said the MLK Day of Service is one of the most exciting events the center has ever undertaken.
“It is an honor to lead 11 other HBCUs throughout the southeast region of the country in serving our communities,” she said. “We should feel challenged and act on the challenge to do something good every day to make a difference in the lives of others.”
“We want people to realize that Dr. King’s holiday is not just a day off,” said Shirley Nix-Davis, director of a youth empowerment program at TSU and one of the MLK Day of Service project directors. “But it’s an opportunity to serve, and continue serving throughout the year.”