Living La Verne’s Values

January 29, 2013 by University of La Verne

About 200 La Verne students, faculty and staff spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day Helping Others

In Los Angeles, they cleaned, painted and moved furniture to prepare for the opening of a shelter for homeless women and children. At a La Verne retirement community, they washed cars, organized activities and even helped seniors with computers.  At community gardens that provide fresh produce for the homeless and the hungry, they turned soil and built raised plant beds.

About 200 members of the University of La Verne community – including students, faculty and staff – spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day serving others. By helping those less fortunate, the volunteers honored King’s legacy, and lived out the university’s mission.

“La Verne values education for the public good,” said Zandra Wagoner, University chaplain and Interim Director of Civic and Community Engagement, who organized the day of service. “This is an opportunity for the campus community to come together and make tangible connections with the needs and challenges of this community.”

Sponsored by the La Verne Experience, the third annual Martin Luther King Community Service Day benefitted non-profit organizations dedicated to addressing hunger, homelessness, and environmental conservancy. Volunteers helped at Sowing Seeds for Life, La Verne Community Garden (Peace and Carrots), Hillcrest Retirement Community, and several other places.

“I thought the day was quite amazing,” said Tahil Sharma, a third-year student and secretary of the Interfaith Student Council. He was part of a group of 20 that worked at Peace and Carrots.

Students occupied with classes, exams and tuition costs have a tendency to take things for granted, he said.

“I think this gives us a time to reflect on ourselves and each other and help us come together and get things done and help other people out,” Sharma said.

The first MLK Community Service Day was initiated and organized by the Dean’s Office of College of Arts and Sciences. Jonathan Reed, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, has participated all three years.

The day is a great way to not only live out the values of the University, but to connect a La Verne education with a commitment to service, he said.

“What has impressed me the most the last three years, and certainly this year, has been the attitude and sincerity of our students–they never complain, they jump right in, and at the end, they offer serious and articulate reflections on what Martin Luther King’s life and teachings means to them,” Reed said.

Jendayi Saada, Assistant Dean, Center for Academic and Bar Readiness at the University of La Verne College of Law, was one of 20 volunteers representing La Verne Law.

“It’s such a powerful mission to help these women and their children,” said Saada, who worked at Hope Gardens, a new shelter for homeless woman and children in Los Angeles.  “I thought it was an amazing experience to go up there and I would like to go back,” she said.

Bradlee Johnson, a 19-year-old freshman who also helped at Hope Gardens, was part of a group from the Black Student Union.

“I always do community service. It’s important no matter what holiday it is,” she said. Johnson said her family has instilled in her an attitude of gratitude.

“It reminds us that it always can be worse and you can always help people.”

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