December 9, 2010

Sign up to serve during King Week

Volunteers clean up a Dekalb County park for Emory's Day On in 2009.

Emory's annual King Week has grown to more than 35 service projects and events this year, offering ample opportunities for faculty, staff and students to get involved and honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of civil and human rights.

From Jan. 17-25, the campus will be abuzz with panel discussions, readings, concerts, art exhibits, memorial services and service opportunities.

Emory's Day On, a massive, campus-wide volunteer effort partnering with more than 20 community organizations, will kick off the week on Jan. 17.

More than 540 volunteers have registered to date, a 50 percent jump from last year, says College senior Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, Emory's Day On founder and head organizer.

Service in King's hometown

"Volunteers realize that this is Dr. King's home and they remember his incredible message of equality and community," Sommers-Flanagan says. "We should participate in full force."

On the national holiday Jan. 17, Volunteer Emory and the Nu Delta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity will again sponsor a tree-planting effort in the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District in the Old Fourth Ward with expert assistance from Trees Atlanta.

The three-hour planting, followed by period of reflection and lunch, allows students to work alongside faculty, staff and community members, while listening to the King Memorial Service at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in the background.

The project "allows for cross-group connections that wouldn't otherwise happen," says Volunteer Emory Coordinator Harold McNaron.

King Week Committee Chair Cynthia Shaw notes that King is often quoted as saying, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

Shaw, a program coordinator for the Office of the Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life, has planted more than 30 maple trees over a decade of volunteering and has watched them mature, provide shade for the residents and offer a refuge for wildlife.

"It's a very gratifying experience," Shaw says. "Trees soften a community and they also give back."

Self-designed and other projects

Other volunteer opportunities include mulching and invasive plant removal at Kirkwood Urban Forest Park, landscaping at Oakland Cemetery, and packing up medical supplies for developing countries with MedShare International in Decatur.

Several student groups have designed their own projects, such as making blankets for homeless families, painting a mural at Atwood Hall, and performing an a capella concert for nursing home residents.

"Anything that gives back is keeping with the spirit of King and the University," says Shaw.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to register by Dec. 15 to volunteer at Emory's Day On. To volunteer for tree-planting, contact Harold McNaron. To register for other volunteer opportunities, contact Rylee Sommers-Flanagan.

Andrew Young to keynote King Week

King's spirit of activism and social justice will be highlighted in a Jan. 18 keynote address by former Atlanta Mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, at 4 p.m. in Cannon Chapel.

This year, the College Council will fold its annual "State of Race" discussion into King Week. The Jan. 25 event, free to members of the campus community with an Emory I.D., will feature CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien.

New this year is a panel discussion exploring the intersection of race, gender and service.  "Open Doors and Open Minds," moderated by Doug Shipman '95C of Center for Civil and Human Rights Partnership, is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church.

See the King Week calendar for the full schedule of events and more details.

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