Day of Service Wraps up MLK Week

By Hannah Fitzpatrick ’21, January 28, 2019
IC students volunteer at organizations across Tompkins County.

Not many college students are willing to spend their weekend at a daycare center. But that’s where Jordan Stecker ’21 was last Saturday, Jan. 26. At the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center, he spent the day cleaning toys, setting up classrooms and organizing books.

“The acts of giving and commitment to the children, families and staff at DICC were rejuvenating," said Denise Gomber, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Children's Center. "The Ithaca College students modeled humility, caring and hard work. Giving and receiving was experienced by all."

Stecker was just one of 76 Ithaca College students who took part in the college’s 14th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, a day of giving back that serves as the final event in the college’s weeklong celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. Other service locations included the Tompkins County Public Library, Finger Lakes ReUse Center, Newfield United Methodist Church, New Roots Charter School, Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library and the Family Reading Partnership.

“Giving back to the community makes me feel really proud to be an Ithaca College student,” Stecker said. “I know in different communities, especially where I came from, giving wasn’t a big part of the atmosphere. At Ithaca, there’s always the aspect of helping others present, and I think it not only helps us grow emotionally but also intellectually because it helps us expand our knowledge of what happens in different places.”

Following their work, the students returned to campus for a period of reflection led by Don Austin, the assistant director of the Office for Student Engagement. The students shared their experiences, what they learned and why they thought volunteering was important.

Katelyn Tai ’21 said that the day of service is an excellent way to honor King’s life by making an impact on the Ithaca community.

“I think it’s cool to know that you’re making a difference for someone by volunteering,” Tai said. “You might not change the world, but you can change someone’s perspective or someone’s day by helping out and doing something small for them.”

MLK Week 2019 began on Tuesday, Jan. 22, with a presentation by first-year students in the college’s Martin Luther King Scholars program and a keynote address by John Sims, a conceptual artist, writer and activist. Throughout the week, there were a series of lectures and presentations.

Another highlight was a concert held on Friday, Jan. 25, featuring students and faculty soloists, as well as ensembles from the School of Music, cast members from Ithaca College Theatre’s production of “Ragtime,” the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers and guest artist Samantha McElhaney John, director of theatre studies at the Music Academy of Garden City in Garden City, New York.