For Mary Baldwin University and ambitious community members, January 17 will be “a day on, not a day off” in memory of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
To commemorate the 25th year of the national holiday — and the 20th year that Mary Baldwin has helped organize a march and memorial service in Dr. King’s honor — the Spencer Center will host a working community service lab and volunteers will to brighten Staunton’s Valley Mission homeless shelter with a wall mural.
Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff have participated in service projects in previous years on MLK Day, and a canned food drive continues to be an important part of the evening memorial service. This year, the efforts were expanded to focus on community outreach, said Spencer Center staff member Robyn Stegman ’09.
In the service lab, volunteers will have opportunities to contribute to real-world projects, such as creating Black History Month lesson plans for a local middle school and researching grant opportunities for a mental health organization. At Valley Mission, student artists led by Claudia Bowen ’11 and other volunteers will begin work on a colorful mural in the center’s dining and socializing area.
A Thanksgiving sociology project at the Mission sparked Bowen to ask about the possibility of painting a mural in the building. “The general idea will be a community-based painting that illustrates people finding a place of safety and encouragement,” Bowen said.
The day wraps up with the annual March for Peace and Justice and memorial service at Central United Methodist Church, which also encourages civic engagement through a food drive to benefit that church’s food pantry and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The service will include Mary Baldwin groups Anointed Voices of Praise and Greater Things Dance Ministry as well as the Al Hamilton Mass Choir.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been designated as a national day of service since 1994.
MLK Day at Mary Baldwin
- All day, Spencer Center: Participate in a day-long service lab to work on projects for community organizations and schools.
- 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Valley Mission on West Beverley Street: Volunteers will work with Mary Baldwin art students on a mural at a local homeless shelter.
- 6:30 p.m., West Beverley Street: Candelight March for Peace and Justice
- 7 p.m., Central United Methodist Church: Memorial service
For more information call the Spencer Center at 540-887-7181.