MLK Day of Service by Alexander Santana

Monday, January 16, 2017 marked the largest service day in the history of The Catholic University of America. For 11 consecutive years, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at The Catholic University of America has honored a man whose example has inspired college students across America especially at Catholic University. A total of 866 members of the Catholic University community served in neighborhoods across the Washington, D.C. area.

The Day of Service began at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center where President Garvey and Reverend Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv., University chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, addressed the participants.

“It was a great blessing to look over 870 CUA students volunteering from so many different campus groups to honor the legacy of Dr. King and fulfill the mission of our University,” said Father Jude.

Reverend Donald E. Robinson, founder and president of Beacon House, shared his experience of participating in the Civil Rights Movement and the personal impact that Dr. King had on his own life. Beacon House is a nonprofit organization that provides social services to at-risk, low-income children in and around the Edgewood Commons community of northeast Washington, D.C.

Some examples of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service included picking up garbage in a park, reading books to school children in schools, and cleaning the Catholic Charities homeless shelter. Robert Rossetto, a freshman accounting major, volunteered at a park in Hyattsville.

“After serving the city of Hyattsville on Martin Luther King Day of Service, I feel the park is in better condition,” Rossetto said. “Our group cleared the park of trash and any other debris. Because of this, the citizens of Hyattsville will have a nicer park to go to and enjoy there time there.”

Volunteers ranged from students, religious, faculty, staff, as well as Catholic University President John Garvey and his wife Jeanne Garvey volunteered at various locations and supported charitable organizations including Rock Creek Park, Little Sisters of the Poor, Jeanne Jugan Residence, and the Franciscan Monastery. According to a press release, this year’s theme centered around a specific quote from Dr. King: “Make a career of humanity.”

Breakfast, lunch, and a t-shirt featuring a quote by Dr. King were provided to all participants. The first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was held in 2006 and had just 26 participants. Alejandro Ros, a freshman biomedical engineering major went to the Catholic Charities homeless shelter where the vulnerable and neglected of Washington, D.C. go to sleep in a clean and safe environment. “Catholic Charities is like a homeless shelter and it’s open from 7am-7pm and they have beds for people to come in and sleep there for the night. It was a great experience, we got to see how some people have to live their lives and we’re able to help them and clean the place up for them,” Ros said.

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