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College of Law embraces MLK's message of reflection, fellowship and service

MLK Donate-A-Day volunteers at Jackson Square.
In collaboration with the Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative and UMIN in the Loop, the College of Law’s Diversity Committee commenced its “Continuing our Legacy” series on Martin Luther King, Jr. with an afternoon of reflection and service. 

Despite the fact that MLK Day is a federal holiday, approximately 45 student and staff volunteers donated their time to fulfill Dr. King’s vision, and to answer his question of “What are you doing for others?”

The program began with comments about Dr. King’s legacy, including his commitment to community service. Volunteers were encouraged to "pick up the baton handed down by earlier generations" and carry forth the efforts and spirit of service in order to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. After these remarks, volunteers viewed the Eyes on the Prize video series, which focused on Dr. King’s freedom marches in Chicago to protest the systemic racial segregation and discrimination in the city during the Civil Rights movement. 

The volunteers then ventured into the community to one of two service sites: Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), a homeless shelter for families in Uptown, and Jackson Square, a nursing home facility on Chicago’s west side. At CCO, volunteers played games and made Valentine’s Day cards with the youth residents and also sorted clothing donations. Before starting these activities, CCO’s volunteer coordinator gave the volunteers a brief orientation about the services offered at CCO and discussed the stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness. 

First-year law student Sophia Yanuzzi said, “We all know that volunteering in the community helps the community. What we do not always realize is how it also helps us. At this month's Donate-A-Day, I experienced a strong sense of fellowship not only with the other student volunteers but also with the DePaul coordinators and the Cornerstone staff.” 

 Khiabett Osuna, another first-year law student, added, “I learned more about MLK in a short video shown to us that day, than in 12 years of public school. I don't think I ever knew that Dr. King had tried to help Chicago, or that he was met with so much hate in the north. It was great to have that context when we actually went and did our service at the homeless shelter.” 

 A second group of dedicated volunteers headed out to Jackson Square nursing home to spend time with seniors. Upon arrival, one of the residents read speeches of Dr. King’s and gave a synopsis of what he felt Dr. King stood for during his life. This set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The volunteers then assisted the residents during a few hours of organized Bingo, prize winning and snacks.

“I had such a great time playing Bingo with the residents of Jackson Square," said second-year law student Lindsay Bowman. "Some were there to win big--I loved seeing their competitive edges shining through when someone else won! It felt good to give them something fun to do for a few hours, and some prizes to enjoy even after we left.” ​​​