Philadelphia Campus students volunteer with local community members to clean up Fisher Park
Philly campus students join hands with north Philadelphia community on anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday
It was a cold snowy day in north Philadelphia in January, not your typical day for a walk in the park. Nevertheless, as part of their orientation to Messiah College’s Philadelphia Campus, 32 students and 3 faculty members gathered in Fisher Park on the anniversary of the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. where they put into practice the principles King believed were important for successful community.
According to the official Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service website (http://www.mlkday.gov/) the U.S. citizens are encouraged to make the nationally recognized day of service “a day on... not a day off!"
During the 1950s and ’60s, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals.
Initiated by Congress in 1994, King Day of Service builds on that that legacy by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. The aim is to make the holiday a day ON, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned.”
Messiah College joined with two local organizations—Greater Philadelphia Cares and the Ray of Hope Project— in north Philly to assist neighbors of Fisher Park with necessary maintenance of the park grounds. Charlene Snader ’11, art education major said, “ I helped to clear away a large pile of wood that someone had dropped by the side of the woods, and after that was finished, I helped to clear away large amounts of Japanese Honeysuckle out of the woods, an invasive exotic plant that was taking over the native plants. Another group was out around the park just doing general trash pick-up, although it was difficult because of the fresh layer of snow on the ground.”
After clearing brush and invasive plant growth, the group shared lunch with park neighbors and shared in an impromptu time of reflection on their thoughts of partnership, the meaning of community and volunteering, and a discussion of the vision of Martin Luther King Jr.
Ryan Wilson, director of Community Life at the Philadelphia Campus says, the students were able to “build on the connections made with community members two years ago by a similar group of students and faculty.
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