Nineteen members of the Cabrini community honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Monday, Jan. 17, by volunteering at the Norristown Police Athletic League. Among the 19 volunteers were 14 students. Faculty, staff and alumni also participated.
For one student volunteer, serving the community commemorated the ideals of a historical figure. “Martin Luther King Jr. did not just stand for civil rights, he stood for every right and freedom: religious, sexual orientation, gender and the list could go on,” Bridget Flynn, senior elementary and special education and Spanish major, said.
For Flynn, whose birthday fell on the same day as King’s national holiday, volunteering was a form of birthday celebration. Five friends accompanied her, fulfilling her birthday request.
“I don’t normally like to make a big deal out of my birthday and I do not really like material, well anything material. So, I thought it would be perfect to just celebrate with friends the night before and continue to celebrate a joined holiday into the next day, in the same great town, in the name of a great leader,” Flynn said.
By gathering her friends to serve, Flynn ensured that more work could be accomplished. “If he [Martin Luther King Jr.] as one person could do so much, then I thought what if I was able to get even a dozen ‘one person’ or even half that, how much could we do? Martin Luther King Jr. is a great symbol,” Flynn said.
Activities, such as sorting through ink cartridges, organizing storage closets, replacing old chairs and cleaning baseboards, kept students busy. The Wolfington Center sponsored this service trip, allowing those interested to participate in the 14th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Cabrini students spent three hours helping to maintain the cleanliness and organization of the building. Each student’s contribution stemmed from personal motivation.
“I wanted to do something on Martin Luther King Day. I feel really good about it,” Quiana Volney, freshman business administration major, said.
“I thought it would be fun. If I have the time, I like to do something to help others,” Heather White, freshman early childhood and elementary education major, said.
This PAL serves as a recreational facility for about 1,000 Norristown youth ranging in ages five to 18. Numerous sports, art and educational support programs are offered for a fee of $10 a month. Suggestions for new program ideas are encouraged. “If you name it, we do it or we are willing to try it,” Brett Wells, director of PAL, said.
“[It is] one of Cabrini’s community partners that a lot of students volunteer at or do their Seminar 300 service hours with. So, that is why we chose to work with them for the MLK Day of Service,” Elizabeth Miller, Cabrini’s coordinator of community outreach, said.
After volunteering, students gathered for a group discussion. Students reflected on the values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and shared how they were personally affected by their service. Many agreed that being able to join together as a Cabrini team and serve the community was both fulfilling and inspirational.
Cabrini’s volunteers only represented a portion of those who served the community on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Residents from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were all encouraged to help out. The day of service was entitled MLK 365 and was hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
“It’s not only about celebrating King, it’s about celebrating his legacy of turning the most pressing conflicts into a coalition by building ongoing partnerships,” the director of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Todd Bernstein said.
After learning of Cabrini’s participation in the day of service, Bernstein said, “I hope they use this day of service as a spring board, I would hope that they have a better understanding of King and his life by serving others and will continue to be inspired to turn one day of service into a lifetime of volunteering.”