Month: January 2009


Community Service Program of the Month
MLK Service Day

School: Centenary College of Louisiana Region: SWACURH
Person in charge: Chris Lavan Nominator: Molly Broderick

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 College. 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 Elementary. 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 that morning. 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 regular basis. 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

Date of entry into database: 2009-02-08 18:43:40

NRHH Database Home