MLK celebration brings together campus, community, businesses

In honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., student volunteers from Penn State New Kensington and other Penn State campuses in western Pennsylvania took on community service projects in DuBois, Pa. Billed as Make it a Day On, Not a Day Off, the activities were part of the University’s celebration of King. Jan. 21 was a federal holiday and there were no classes.

The multi-campus community service project is an annual event that moves around the region. Penn State DuBois was the host campus this year. Lauren Blum, student life coordinator, and Kelli O’Connor, graduate assistant, accompanied nine New Kensington students -- Kelsie Nury, Jordan Miller, Bill Staniszewski, Courtney Rockwell, Leigh Hastings, Emily McDaniel, Jenna Swank, Brooke Churma and Craig Synan -- to the DuBois campus. They joined 60 of their counterparts from the Penn State campuses of Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny and Shenango, and traveled in groups to help with the daily activities of various community organizations in the greater DuBois area, including Goodwill Industries, the Humane Society, DuBois Nursing Home and DuBois Historical Society.

“Penn State encourages the community service aspect of the holiday," said Blum, who holds a master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Students volunteered to give up their day off at school to assist the organizations with cleaning, painting, organizing -- whatever needed to be done.”

The celebration of the life of and works of King continued the next day when students, faculty and staff came together with Hightower Scholars Inc. and the community, local businesses and neighborhood churches. A Celebration of Unity featured a fair on volunteering at nonprofit organizations, a panel discussion on hunger and homelessness, a potluck dinner and a performance by the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. The highlight of the evening was the lighting of a unity candle by members of the campus, community, local businesses and neighborhood churches.

Diane Hightower, executive director of Hightower Scholars, a nonprofit organization, and Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs at the campus, developed the multimedia program for the 84th anniversary of King's birth. Kevin Snider, chancellor at the New Kensington campus, delivered the opening remarks. Audrey Murrell, associate professor of business administration, psychology, public and international affairs and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, moderated the panel discussion. Nonprofits groups at the fair included Allegheny Valley Association of Churches, Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, Penn State New Kensington THON, Tri-City Life Center and Valley Points YMCA.


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Last Updated February 06, 2013