Nearly 400 volunteer to serve community during 26th Annual MLK Day of Service

January 21, 2019

The event, which is a partnership between UM-Dearborn and Henry Ford College, included more than 20 volunteer sites throughout the metro area.

A group of ~400 volunteers gathered together. UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso and HFC President Russell Kavalhuna are kneeling in front of the group.

This article was originally published on January 21, 2019.

Despite below-freezing temperatures, nearly 400 volunteers from University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford College turned out to participate in the university’s 26th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service today. The event is a collaboration that brings together students, faculty, staff and alumni from both schools for a morning of service to organizations throughout metro Detroit.

Volunteers gathered at UM-Dearborn’s University Center early this morning and then dispersed to nearly two dozen on-campus locations and partner organizations.

Welcoming the volunteers to his first university MLK Day of Service, Chancellor Domenico Grasso reflected on Unitarian minister Theodore Parker’s sentiment on the ‘moral universe,’ which was popularized by King’s quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” 

“Seeing the ultimate solution to all of our challenges is nearly impossible,” Grasso said. “However, it is the sense of optimism, knowing that the arc bends towards justice that inspires us to make a difference each day.”

Henry Ford President Russell Kavalhuna, also participating in his first MLK Day of Service, encouraged students to think about their passions as they are out in the community.

“You are given the liberty to learn about yourself through service. And if you can find what your passion is, then you can devote your life to it … If you do that, then you’ll be honoring the legacy of the person we’re here to honor,” he said.

Volunteers sort food at Gleaners Community Food Bank
Volunteers sort food at Gleaners Community Food Bank

The morning’s volunteer activities included sorting donations at Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, cleaning stalls at the Michigan Humane Society, and sorting food and cleaning at Zaman International.

Junior Zeinab Alhassan, who volunteered on campus during last year’s MLK Day of Service, decided to go out into the community this year.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. did so much for humanity. The least I can do is give a few hours of my time,” said Alhassan, who volunteered at Zaman International. “It might not have a huge impact, but my small action might spark something in someone else or make someone else’s day a little better.”

Former UM-Dearborn staff member Jung Koral, now U-M School for Environment and Sustainability associate director of enrollment services, said he has volunteered for UM-Dearborn’s MLK Day of Service for the past seven years. 

“You meet really great people and learn about some of the work being done in Detroit communities. It’s working together and having camaraderie while making a difference,” said Koral, who volunteered at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives. “I’m shoveling snow today — and sure, it’s cold — but this is nothing for these neighborhood organizations; this work is 24/7. It’s a few hours of my time to give kids a safe snow-free path to walk at the park and I’m happy to give it.”

Volunteers divide bulk food items for the pantry at Zaman International
Volunteers divide bulk food items for the pantry at Zaman International

Related: View more photos of the morning on UM-Dearborn's Facebook page.

The MLK Day of Service kicked off a week of events organized to honor King’s legacy:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

  • Healing and Justice for Sexual Assault Survivors in the African American Community, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Kochoff Hall A&B, UC

Thursday, January 24, 2019