Grant brings together MLK service volunteers

By Amy Price
A&E Editor

The aroma of pizza and the sound of laughter filled the S Building lobby Jan. 21 as volunteers — including staff, faculty and students — reflected on the day’s events.

The Brookhaven College Office of Student Life, led by Andrew Deibert, service-learning and civic engagement coordinator, hosted the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Deibert said a grant from the MLK Day of Service Foundation made it possible to bring people together to portray and deliver King’s message of unity and provide service for the community.

On the day of service, participants were put into three groups and given community service missions. “No one knew what their challenges were going to be until they got here. The mystery was a fun way to do this,” Deibert said.

The volunteers were responsible for finding solutions to their given challenge. “This allowed everyone to work together to solve a problem,” Deibert said.

Each team was given an envelope with a certain amount of money to complete the tasks. One of the teams received and purchased 100 books to donate to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Grady Thomas, president of SERVE!, was on this team.

“I love doing service projects and community service,” Thomas said. His group exceeded its goal and ended up with 111 books, most of which were donated by Half Price Books, he said.

Lenesha Lewis’ team spent time at the Emeritus Senior Living facility, playing bingo and interacting with senior citizens. “It was really fun,” Lewis said. “We got to learn a lot about the people.”

Lewis said she met a lot of interesting people, including a woman who modeled during the 1970s. “I really wanted to give back to the community and this was something fun to help out,” Lewis said. She said the MLK Day of Service brought people from all backgrounds together for a good cause, because that is what Martin Luther King Jr.’s message was all about.

The third group had the task of coming up with $1,500 for the YMCA Partners Campaign, which helps families in need to cover membership fees. They also spent time decorating dance equipment with jewels and sequins for their dance classes.

Deibert said 30 volunteers participated in the event. He spoke with someone from North Lake College and said he wants to collaborate with other Dallas County Community College District schools to hold a larger service day next year.

The event concluded with a dinner reception at Brookhaven. A slideshow of photos from the day’s work was synchronized with music and recordings of King speaking. Each team had the opportunity to talk about their tasks. The group that went to the YMCA demonstrated what its members learned by performing the renowned YMCA hand routine.

The participants were given T-shirts for their commitment to helping the community and signed a banner for the group.

“I challenge all of you to 100 hours of community service for the 2012 year,” Deibert said as the event ended.