Month: January 2009
Community Service Program of the Month
MLK Service Day
||Centenary College of Louisiana
|Person in charge:
|Target Population: 500
||Time Needed to Organize: 1-2 months|
|Number of People in Attendance: 55
||Date(s) of Program: January 24th|
|Number of People Needed to Organize: 4-5
||Cost of Program: 0.00|
|On-Campus Population: 600
||Chapter Size: 7|
|Origin of Program:|
The idea for a Martin Luther King Service Day was first suggested and
pursued by Chris Lavan, shortly after his becoming Centenary’s
Director of Community in the Fall of 2008. A member of the Diversity
Committee, he set out to create an event that would celebrate Dr.
King’s legacy through a new tradition of volunteerism, bringing
together not only students, but also faculty, staff and alumni of the
Mr. Lavan soon realized that the foundations for the program
where already there, as Centenary’s Education Department had a
relationship with a few public schools in the community. The students
could receive their Service Learning credit through their student
teaching at these institutions, but Mr. Lavan thought that they could
do even more.
Helping to plan DREAMWEEK, he created the Service Day Committee
and, with the assistance of the Education Department, expanded the
already-existing relationships, creating General Service Learning
Community Partnerships with C.E. Byrd High School and Stoner Hill
Thus was born not only the MLK Service Day, but also a new
program, which made it possible for any Centenary student to serve at
Byrd or Stoner Hill for an extended period of time and receive their
Service Learning credit.
Word Count: 200
|Please give a short description of the program:|
The first MLK Service Day took place on Saturday, January 24.
Despite the rain and the chilly wind, forty-something Centenary
patrons rolled out of their beds early morning and braved their way
toward the Whited Room. There, all volunteers registered for the day
and were informed of their assigned service location. Having
received a special event T-shirt and bracelet, everyone was treated
to a light breakfast to warm up after the excursion.
It was then time for the Director of Community, Chris Lavan, to
welcome the attendees and to thank everyone for helping to create a
new Centenary tradition. Finally, after a brief exposé by Dean of
Students, David Womack, on Dr. King’s legacy and on Centenary’s
commitment to service, the volunteers split into two groups – some
leaving in vans for C.E. Byrd High School, others headed toward
Stoner Hill Elementary.
Despite a misunderstanding on the part of Byrd, where the
volunteers were supposed to clean up the gym and rake the leaves in
the school’s courtyard, Mr. Lavan and Dennis Taylor (Director of
Career Services) quickly arranged for the group to be bussed over to
Stoner Hill. As everyone was soon to find out, there was so much to
be done at Stoner Hill alone that lack of work was never an issue
The dozen or so cleaning teams – equipped with sponges, cloths
and spray detergent – went from classroom to classroom, leaving each
one spotless. Scrubbing tables clean, wiping the dust off of
computer monitors, or just organizing the teaching materials, the
goal was to make the classrooms a more sanitary and pleasant
environment for the kids. Throughout the morning, volunteers had to
check in with the coordinators, who made sure that everyone was
hydrated and feeling well.
Far from complaining, the volunteers never ceased to smile and
were in a great mood, going through one room after another without a
break, posing for photos, and even sharing their thoughts with the
KTBS 3 News reporters on the scene.
Having arrived at Centenary a little after 12, all the MLK
Service Day participants were invited to a lunch at the School
cafeteria, where the Food Services employees had prepared a hearty
buffet especially for the occasion.
Word Count: 372
|Goals of the program:|
What inspired Mr. Lavan to pursue the idea of the MLK Service Day
was his belief that Centenary could – and should – do more to
celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. He knew the potential was there, as
Centenary has always been known to give back to its community, be it
through its Service Learning program or through individual volunteer
opportunities that the students, faculty and stuff engage in on a
Debuting during the School’s DREAMWEEK, the MLK Service Day
was to be, above all, an occasion for any Centenary patron to
participate in a meaningful and spirit-building group event. More
than anything, it was to become a truly campus-wide project,
crossing age, race, political affiliation, Greek membership, etc. It
was through the sharing of a mutual goal that the Service Day
Committee wanted to honor Dr. King’s legacy.
The choice of the schools stemmed from both the availability
of an existing Centenary partnership with Byrd and Stoner Hill, and
from the Committee’s desire to serve the local youth, as an indirect
way of passing on Dr. King’s teaching to the future generations.
Word Count: 184
|Positive and lasting effects of the program:|
One of the biggest successes of the 2009 MLK Service Day is
that the precedent was set for a new tradition where members of the
Centenary community could participate. Not only is it a school-
spirit-boosting event, but it is also a great relationship builder
and a positive avenue to uplift our Shreveport-Bossier neighbors.
The media coverage we received during our first MLK Service Day
proved to be a tremendous help in reaching out to members of the
community and in publicizing Centenary’s commitment to service. We
are very lucky to have the opportunity to direct our volunteerism
toward our local public schools, as we believe that this will
further strengthen the bonds between our College and our city. We
are also happy to be able to help those students by sending the
message to them – and to other people in the community – that we
care about the facilities in which they learn and grow.
This event directly parallels with Dr. King’s message of the
importance of education for all and of service to others. We are our
brother’s keeper and this was a unique way for the event
participants to show their commitment to helping those in need.
Word Count: 200
|Short evaluation of the program:|
The 2009 MLK Service Day was the first in a new tradition of
volunteerism at Centenary. Mr. Lavan, along with other members of
the Service Day Committee, were extremely satisfied with its debut,
but are hoping for an even better participation turnout next year.
The attendees all seemed to agree that the project was a well-
worthwhile endeavor and most expressed their willingness to get
involved again in the future.
The organization was one of the strongest points of the event.
Despite the last-minute change of plans due to a mistake on Byrd’s
part, the coordinators displayed notable clear-headedness and made
sure that all volunteers were transported quickly and safely to
Stoner Hill. While at the designated service location, the tasks
were reasonably divided among all the groups, with the remarkable
effect that everyone finished at almost the same time.
Moreover, the event T-shirts promoted a feeling of unity and a
shared goal, and were generally praised by the participants for
their pleasing simplicity. Throughout the morning, the Service Day
supervisors made sure that everyone was kept busy but happy, lack
of team-spirit never being an issue.
Word Count: 186
|How could this program be adapted to other campuses?|
The MLK Service Day Committee members agree that it would be
great to participate in similar events at more local schools and to
try to engage an even greater number of volunteers. So far, Mr.
Lavan has expanded Centenary’s partnership with Byrd High School and
Stoner Hill Elementary therefore students have the option to fulfill
their Service Learning requirement at either of these institutions.
Moreover, we want to look more closely into the event
participant surveys, which came back extremely positive and
contained a lot of great feedback. Overall, our volunteers seem to
have enjoyed both the idea of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy through
a service project. The first annual MLK Service Day was clearly a
resounding success from our volunteers’ perspective, most of whom
(91%) stated that they would “definitely” participate in another
service day event; 9% would “probably” participate again.
Other related projects could include an MLK Service Week in
which different student groups could work with organizations of
their choice, or a movie series with the theme of Dr. King’s message
of volunteerism. It was also suggested that Centenary’s
international students could help decorate local school facilities
to promote intercultural understanding and global citizenship.
Word Count: 197