By Cameron Hosseinian
Every year since 1983, on the third Monday of January, our nation has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Nobel Peace Prize winner had an unequaled impact on race relations and the legal segregation of African Americans within the United States of America. Through his efforts, King was able to lead to the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Catholic University of America also has a long standing tradition of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions by engaging in a day of national service dedicated to his selfless actions.
On Monday, January 18th, Catholic University students had the day off from classes in order to honor the event. An extensive range of service opportunities were available to all students who wanted to participate. Hundreds of students at Catholic University woke up bright and early on that cold morning and worked all day in order to give back to the community which provides them with so much. Working in locations spanning Brookland, Anacostia and many other areas, Catholic University students provided help as needed – and more.
“The city has given us so many amazing opportunities, it felt great to give back to the community,” said Paul Burgholzer, a sophomore at Catholic University.
When asked about what specific service he participated in Burgholzer said, “We cleared out invasive vines and plants obstructing a path through the woods in Anacostia Park.”
Catholic University athletics took full advantage of this day of service as well. As a member of Catholic University’s women’s lacrosse team, sophomore Marisa Opalinski, was happy to participate in the event with her teammates and fellow athletes.
“The women’s lacrosse team and men’s baseball team joined together to volunteer at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland for our MLK Day of Service,” said Opalinski. “We originally went up to help assist them by bringing luminarias they used during the Christmas and holiday season, before winter hit. We were lucky enough to have so many volunteers that we were able to accomplish this fairly quickly, giving us the opportunity to help in even more ways by planting and gardening their vegetables which they distribute to hundreds of families in the Brookland area. Community service is an extremely important aspect for our team, and we’re always so grateful for the opportunities we’re given to give back to our community.”
Every athletic program was given a different task and all delivered despite the frigid weather.
“The track team worked with Catholic Charities by helping clean up trash that surrounded a homeless shelter,” said men’s track athlete Michael Maldonado. “The cold weather definitely made it a sacrifice to be out there, but I believe we made a huge impact in just a short period of time.”
Catholic University students serving the community year after year has consistently shown that Catholic University students uphold the example of selfless giving that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so adamantly preached.
In the words of King himself, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
With winter and the cold weather picking up, those truly in need will appreciate our help beyond measure. As the new year progresses and the semester sets in, more and more opportunities will become available to students who wish to continue this act of giving. Homeless food runs are available every Friday and Sunday, Bethlehem House operates every Wednesday, and various opportunities are sponsored by Brookland Outreach throughout the year.