A partnership between the Office of Community Service and the D.C. Public Housing Authority will give 200 GW students the chance to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday by making a contribution to the city community.
Students from 12 different student organizations will travel to the Knox Hill Senior Center in Southeast D.C. to spend the day painting and restoring the Center.
“We chose Knox Hill because it would allow students to see the Southeast and give back to that area, a part of D.C. which many students do not get to experience,” said Nikki Finch, assistant program coordinator for the Office of Community Service.
The Office of Community Service, along with the Student Activities Center, the Student Association and the Multicultural Student Services Center will sponsor and organize the full day event.
The Office of Community Service and the D.C. Public Housing Authority became partners in sponsorship in the fall, and Knox Hill was chosen after the Office of Community Service reviewed seven different housing communities.
Students will be broken up into groups and put to work painting bedrooms, bathrooms and various murals around the senior housing facility.
“Many of the seniors see some areas of Knox Hill as too institutionalized,” Finch explained. “So we wanted to give it some color by painting murals, such as a soap-themed mural in the laundry room, and others with mountains and flowers.”
The idea behind “MLK, A Day On, Not a Day Off,” is to integrate diverse student groups from the GW Community to continue King’s philosophy of diversity and equality.
While this is the first year students will travel to Knox Hill, the GW community organizes a service project annually to allow students to take advantage of their day off from classes. Last year, students painted Eastern High School in Southeast D.C.
Organizations planning to participate in this year’s event include members pf Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, NAACP, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Hillel, Organization for Latino American Students and the South Asian Society, among others.
Student representatives from each organization will lead one of 15 different groups, which are designed to integrate the students and divide the workload.
“Having this, a University-wide event with different student organizations involved, opens lines of communication,” said junior Shyrea Thompson, director of the SA Diversity Affairs Commission and a group leader for the project. “We wanted to honor Dr. Martin Luther King by bringing together student organizations of different racial, ethnic and sexually-oriented student groups through a shared experience of giving back to the community.”
“I am excited about the opportunity of being a team leader because I get to be more involved,” said senior Marisa Stroud, a member of the Organization for Latino Americans. “We expect anywhere from 20 to 30 people representing OLAS.”
Stroud said the organization joined with AmeriCorps last year to re-paint Eastern High School.
“This is my first year participating in an MLK event,” said South Asian Society member senior Maya Dhanani. “I’m excited about giving back to the community and having the opportunity to be creative and productive.”
While the list of students signed on to participate is already at 160, it will be capped at 200 due to the amount of work available at Knox Hill as well as the availability of transportation to and from the center. Students can sign up to participate in Marvin Center room 436.
“The GW community is stepping up to what we should be doing,” Finch said. “This is an important day for GW and every university and should be celebrated University-wide.”