On Monday morning, approximately 140 service-minded Yale students dispersed around New Haven to volunteer as part of Dwight Hall’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
The volunteers spent the day at one of 16 service sites around the Elm City, including the Peabody Museum, New Haven Home Recovery and Walgreens. This year’s day of service focused on reaching out to graduate students. Whereas in the past volunteers have been overwhelmingly undergraduate, this year 25 percent of the students participating were graduate students, said Patricia Okonta MC ’15, Dwight Hall’s institutional service coordinator.
Before heading out to their sites, Peter Crumlish, executive director of Dwight Hall, encouraged volunteers to use the day of service as an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“You’ve heard of King’s famous language about interconnectivity [and] mutuality. In order for us to all be who we ought to be and for you to be who you ought to be, we all have to support each other,” Crumlish said.
One of the goals for the day of service was reach people who do not usually engage in community service, Crumlish said. The large proportion of graduate students was an unusual, but welcome turnout, said Sterling Johnson SY ’15, Dwight Hall co-coordinator.
In addition to attracting more volunteers, Dwight Hall’s student executive committee has also incorporated a number of new service programs, including the Wexler-Grant School MLK Celebration, CitySeed and Christ Church Community Soup Kitchen, said Johnson.
This year, instead of holding their own day of service for Dr. King, members of Yale’s Black Graduate Network joined Dwight Hall’s day of service, said Musleehat Hamadu, student consulting group president at Yale HealthCORE and second year graduate student in the School of Public Health.
In CitySeed — an organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in Connecticut — five volunteers helped with data analysis, communications mailing to farmers and information distribution, said Patille Nargozian, CitySeed’s market manager.
“We would definitely be interested in working with Dwight Hall again if we have more opportunities,” said Nargozian.
In addition to the new service programs, several volunteers helped facilitate the many programs offered by the Peabody Museum specifically for Martin Luther King Day.
Because the Peabody saw approximately 6,000 visitors, volunteers were much needed to work at the retail table, answer questions and count attendance, said Mary Anderson, volunteer coordinator for the Peabody.
“To see 10 fresh young faces with loads of energy walk through the doors — it’s fantastic,” Anderson said.
Some of the programs run through the Peabody were New Haven Healthy City Healthy Climate Challenge, which raised awareness about the connection between air pollution and public health, and the New Haven People’s Center, which supervised children as they drew pictures of what they wanted to see Mayor Toni Harp change in New Haven.
Dwight Hall held its first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in 2002.