Tag: Martin Luther King Day of Service

Speaker puts focus on King’s “radical” message; students reach out in service

Rev. Sekou leads the audience in song during Monday's MLK Celebration at Memorial Chapel.
Rev. Sekou performs Monday during the 29th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Memorial Chapel. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University faculty, students, and staff honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a day of service on Monday.

No classes were held on the federal holiday honoring the civil rights icon, but Lawrence again provided a bevy of volunteer and learning opportunities around King’s life and message. The day was topped off with the 29th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Memorial Chapel, an event co-sponsored by Lawrence and African Heritage Inc.

A community celebration

Simon Balto gestures with his hands as he speaks during Monday's MLK Celebration at Memorial Chapel.
Simon Balto gives his address, “Restoring the Radical King,” during Monday’s 29th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Memorial Chapel.

The evening event featured keynote speaker Simon Balto, an assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of Iowa and author of the book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power.

He implored the audience not to lose sight of the radical mission of King, not to be lulled into complacency by a modern caricature that allows politicians and others to tap into benign visions of King that they believe can impart feel-good messages.

“We treat him now like this bundle of sound bites and remember him as a lovable man with little more than a kumbaya dream of a colorblind society,” Balto said. “People, and politicians in particular, seem to think that King can be whatever they want him to have been.”

He was so much more than that, Balto said. There’s a reason that a Gallup poll in 1966 found that only 32% of Americans had a positive view of King. He sought radical change. He made people uncomfortable. And that was a good thing.

“Martin Luther King was a radical,” Balto said. “People often think of the word radical as if it is pejorative or scary. But we shouldn’t think that way.”

It’s about “challenging the status quo at a fundamental level,” he said.

King and others in the civil rights movement successfully took down Jim Crow laws in the south, ending legalized segregation. But that, Balto said, was only one phase. The next phase — fighting racism that was built into the very fabric of the nation — would prove far more difficult. It’s a battle that continues today even as we honor the great accomplishments of King.

“Yes, Dr. King did want an end to racial discrimination, but he also knew that simply ending the Jim Crow system was not going to do it,” Balto said. “He knew that racism was manifested in all sorts of different ways … and not just in the south. He knew it was baked into the housing policies in places like Milwaukee and Chicago and Los Angeles. … He knew it was baked into the ways of the criminal justice system and how it treated black people. He knew it was in the school system and the labor market, in all sorts of places the civil rights movement that had vanquished Jim Crow in the south hadn’t fixed.”

King told his followers that the new battle would be more difficult, in large part because it came with a much higher price tag for the nation, one that would run into the billions of dollars and require the transformation of many of the tenets of society, Balto said. It was an uphill fight, and remains so today.

“People died pursuing it,” Balto said. “Indeed, Dr. King died pursuing it.”

Memorial Chapel is mostly full as Lawrence student Kyree Allen sings during Monday's MLK event.
Kyree Allen ’23 sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monday’s Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Memorial Chapel.

Also at Monday’s King Celebration event, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, a musician, filmmaker, and theologian, led a rousing music portion of the program. The annual Jane LaChapelle McCarty MLK Community Leader Award was presented to Carla A. Manns, a local author, business owner, and community leader. And Pa Lee Moua, formerly an associate dean of students for diversity at Lawrence and now the Appleton Area School District’s diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Educator Award.

Special video tributes were given to recently departed community leaders Ronald Dunlap and Henry Golde.

Day of service activities

Nearly 400 Lawrence students, faculty, and staff took part in community outreach activities or participated in teach-ins Monday in honor of King’s legacy. With no classes being held, it was designated as a day of service.

Nearly 150 volunteers supported communities across the Fox Cities through service at Riverview Gardens, the Fox Valley Humane Association, Feeding America, Brewster Village, and the Boys and Girls Clubs in Appleton and Menasha. Another 155 attended a half dozen teach-ins that ranged from being actively engaged in anti-racism advocacy to addressing stigma and disparity within mental health treatment.

“We were very impressed by the interest from the Lawrence campus,” said Kristi Hill, director of Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change. “We are hopeful that we provided a variety of offerings around learning, volunteering, and celebrating.”

Students load mulch into a wheelbarrow at Riverview Gardens.
Students load mulch to be placed in hoop houses at Riverview Gardens during Monday’s MLK Day of Service. (Photo by Liz Boutelle)

At Riverview Gardens, an Appleton nonprofit that uses urban farming as a means to produce food and provide job training for struggling populations, nearly 25 students took to the fields on a cold afternoon to place mulch into hoop houses and do other chores, all aimed at prepping the farm for spring planting.

“Riverview Gardens is a really great organization because they work with job skills training for homeless and disadvantaged communities,” said Floreal Crubaugh ’20. “That’s really important for our day of service.”

She and many of the other volunteers she was working with are members of the student organization that tends to the Lawrence University Sustainable Garden (SLUG), so the outreach to Riverview Gardens was particularly close to the heart.

“We’re a club that’s really organized around community service and volunteering,” Crubaugh said. “This really meshed well with our mission of giving our time and giving our skills to the community.”

It’s work that was much appreciated by the workers who tend to the needs of Riverview Gardens on a daily basis.

“This helps us prepare for our spring planting,” said Elisse Pavletich, the farm manager. “They are putting mulch in a lot of our hoop houses, which will prevent weeds from growing in those places and it gives us a lot more time to focus on the vegetables in spring, which then helps us to help more people.”

Lawrence students sit with cats at the Fox Valley Humane Association during the MLK Day of Service on Monday.
Lawrence students socialize with cats while volunteering at the Fox Valley Humane Association Monday during Lawrence’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

At the Fox Valley Humane Association, a team of Lawrence volunteers focused on cleaning the facility, doing laundry, and stocking shelves before turning their attention to interaction with the animals that are currently calling the shelter home.

“I find working with animals incredibly important,” said Sara Prostko ’20. “They are a population that cannot say their needs, they don’t have a say in their environment, where they go, who they’re with.

“Lawrence is all about trying to be a voice for those who cannot have a voice for themselves. I think this is exactly that. … We’re doing a lot of cleaning and sorting of stuff, things that I’d rather us volunteers do rather than employees so they can spend their time and efforts on things to expand the organization.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Riverview Gardens Receives Lawrence University’s 2014 Collaboration in Action Award

One of the Fox Cities’ newest and most inventive social enterprises was honored Oct. 14 by Lawrence University during the college’s sixth annual Report to the Community.

Riverview Gardens was presented Lawrence University’s Collaboration in Action Award as part of the report.

Report-to-the-community_newsblog
Lawrence students helped construct hoop houses last January at Riverview Gardens, the recipient of Lawrence’s 2014 Collaboration in Action Award. Students contributed a total of 1,038 volunteer hours to Riverview Gardens last year.

The award recognizes an individual or organization, who, in partnership with Lawrence, has provided exemplary service to the Fox Cities community through strategic vision, leadership influence, long-standing commitment and enthusiasm, financial contributions and/or volunteerism.

Riverview Gardens was founded in December 2011 on the grounds of the former Riverview Country Club on Appleton’s south side. As a self-sustaining social venture, it engages Fox Valley residents in community stewardship of a market garden, community park space and job training program. It seeks to assist local outreach organizations and build financial resources to help address the root causes of poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

“Riverview Gardens is not only innovative in its approach to addressing root causes of poverty, it has been equally creative in its partnership with Lawrence,” said Burstein. “The staff at Riverview has collaborated with Lawrence on a variety of initiatives ranging from courses that use the gardens as a living laboratory and research and internships that help students prepare for a wide range of careers to outreach projects that take classical chamber music beyond the concert hall and community meetings to foster dialogue on issues of common concern.”

“Our relationship is far more than just a volunteer affiliation,” Burstein added. “It is a deeply rewarding connection that helps both the college and community thrive.”

Since embarking on its mission, Riverview Gardens has utilized Lawrence students with expertise in sustainable agriculture provided by the Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG) and the college’s environmental studies program. During the 2013-14 academic year, more than 300 Lawrence students contributed 1,038 volunteer hours at Riverview Gardens, the most of any of the 144 area agencies at which students served.

Two recent Lawrence graduates, Oren Jakobson (2011) and Hava Blair (2013) turned their student involvement with environmental and sustainability issues into key leadership roles with Riverview Gardens after they graduated.

“Riverview Gardens is not only innovative in its approach to addressing
root causes of poverty, it has been equally creative in its partnership
with Lawrence. It is a deeply rewarding connection that helps
both the college and community thrive.”

— President Mark Burstein

Jakobson, who led the permitting process involved with establishing a bee colony on campus, serves as Riverview Gardens’ director of farm operations. Blair, who conducted an independent study project that created a wetlands restoration plan for Riverview Gardens, is the manager of farm sales and markets.

Lawrence’s connection to Riverview Gardens also includes executive director Cindy Sahotsky and ServiceWorks outreach coordinator Ronan Christman, 1984 and 2013 graduates, respectively.

“Riverview Gardens is a great opportunity for students to put thought into action and the people we serve benefit greatly from their impetus to action,” said Sahotsky. “Many students will take what they learn at Riverview Gardens and use it to provide community, wherever they live. We are extremely grateful and humbled by the financial and volunteer support we receive from Lawrentians.”

Report-to-the-community_newsblog2
Bethesda Thrift Shop, where Lawrence students help sort donated items, was one of 144 community agencies in the Fox Cities served by Lawrence student volunteers in 2013-14.

Riverview Gardens joins the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Cities (2013), the Appleton Area School District (2012), the YMCA of the Fox Cities (2011) and the Mielke Family Foundation (2010) as previous winners of Lawrence’s Collaboration in Action Award.

As part of its Report to the Community, Lawrence’s involvement with the greater Fox Cities community was highlighted, including:

• Lawrence faculty and staff volunteer and make contributions to 133 community agencies, serve on the boards of 46 local nonprofits while spending an average of 71.4 hours a year volunteering in the community.

71 different Lawrence student organizations volunteered in the community in the past year.

 52 percent of Lawrence students — 785 — volunteered during the 2013-14 academic year, contributing 12,420 volunteer hours to 144 community agencies.

 Lawrence Academy of Music teachers and students provided 74 free community concerts, recitals or master classes during the 2013-14 academic year.

35 local employers provided internships to 45 Lawrence students.

• 73.1 percent of the Wisconsin vendors used by Lawrence University in the 2013-14 fiscal year were located in the NEW North Region.

 Lawrence spent $5,438,819 in the NEW North Region during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

 2,026 Lawrence alumni live in the NEW North Region.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

President’s National Honor Roll Salutes Lawrence University for Community Service

More than 16,650 hours devoted to community volunteer and service-learning programs by 989 students last year helped Lawrence University earn a spot on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the seventh consecutive year.

Lawrence is one of only two Wisconsin institutions to be cited every year by the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for National and Community Service since it launched the honor roll program in 2006 in response to the thousands of college students from around the country who traveled to the Gulf Coast to help with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

The program salutes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities on issues ranging from supporting at-risk youth to neighborhood revitalization.

Honorees are chosen on the basis of several factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

The 2013 Honor Roll recipients were announced at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting March 4 in Washington, D.C. Lawrence was among 695 colleges and universities honored for their community impact.

“It is very gratifying that the efforts and dedication of our students are once again nationally recognized,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “Service is a celebrated component of Lawrence culture and our new students experience this commitment their first week on campus when they go on a service outing during freshman orientation.  As an institution, we treat altruism and civic responsibility as traits to be nurtured. We encourage service participation through coordination and support, while maximizing the options for independent, student-driven service projects and experiences.”

Among the initiatives for which Lawrence was cited:

• Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Under the umbrella theme of “learn, serve and celebrate,” Lawrence students and local alumni volunteers contributed more than 500 hours of service Jan.16, 2012 as part of the nationwide Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. A total of 630 local K-12 students participated in a special curriculum created by Lawrence senior Marika Straw, which focused on diversity, fairness and social justice. Lawrence students also volunteered time to repaint facilities at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha and helped winterize homes with the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities.

• Relay for Life.  Sixteen student teams of 185 participants fundraised on campus, among families, in the community, and online, generating more than $15,000 in support of cancer research and to support local programs that aid cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, including Look Good/Feel Better, Road to Recovery, Hope Lodges and Man to Man.

• After-School Enrichment for Young Children in the Fox Cities. Partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, the Building for Kids museum and two Appleton elementary schools, this longitudinal project provides after-school programming for area youth. Throughout the school year, 55 Lawrence students provided nearly 2,000 hours of  enrichment, skills assessments and data analysis with Professor of Psychology Beth Haines. The research has been presented to several professional psychology organizations and at the statewide Poverty Matters! Conference.

“I am very pleased and proud that Lawrence has been recognized yet again as an institution that strives to excel in community engagement and service,” said Monica Rico, Lawrence’s Pieper Family Professor of Servant Leadership and director of the college’s Office for Engaged Learning. “Every year we look for ways to build stronger partnerships that will meet the needs of our students and our community partners.”

According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America Report, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country in 2012, a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

The CNCS compiles the President’s Community Service Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

MLK Day of Service Generated More than 500 Volunteer Hours

Lawrence University students, faculty, staff and local alumni did their part to turn the annual Martin Luther King holiday from a day off to a day of service.

Working with several local organizations, including the Appleton Boys and Girls Club and the Appleton school district, 169 Lawrence volunteers contributed 507 hours of service on Monday (1/16).

A total of 630 area students participated in a special age-appropriate curriculum focused on diversity and social justice issues that was developed by Marika Straw ’13.  The program, led by Lawrence volunteers, included a variety of hands-on activities to bring Dr. King’s message to area youth.

“The students chose to focus their efforts this year on supporting youth in the community and were very pleased to partner with all seven local after-school sites of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley,” said Kristi Hill, LU director of volunteer and community service programs. “Lawrentians are very involved with both this organization and the Appleton Area School District and seem to be increasingly concerned by the lack of funding and overall support of educational initiatives. In response, our students worked with club staff to develop activities that would allow Lawrentians to support K-12 youth and give the hard working staff of the club a bit of a break.

Gabrielle Rakidzich '15 (left) and Emily Crowe '14 were among 169 LU volunteers who participated in Monday's Martin Luther King Day of Service activities. (Photo by Emma Moss '13.)

“I can say with absolutely certainty that Lawrentians gained just as much from this day as the youth,” Hill added.  “Students returned to campus with both humorous stories and some more serious stories of important discussions that occurred around the topic of fairness.”

In addition to school activities, a team of volunteers repainted an affordable housing unit owned by the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities while 16 students helped winterize the Heckrodt Nature Center.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.