Students serve on MLK Day

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

For 10 years, Student Leaders for Service (SLS) have taken this statement to heart by planning service events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

For 10 years, Student Leaders for Service (SLS) have taken this statement to heart by planning service events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

This year, however, is a little different. For the first time, Portland State will not participate in individual projects, but instead will join efforts with over 1,000 students from 11 other colleges and universities for a collaborative day of service on Monday.

Will Wright, member of the planning committee and project leader, has found working with other colleges and universities inspiring.

“It’s been truly wonderful to work with the students from all of the other schools,” Wright said. “Often they have unique perspectives that contribute to our own endeavors here on campus. It’s also quite exciting to be a part of something so large and ambitious.”

The day of service will commence with a rally hosted by Concordia University. It will include a performance by the local King Elementary School Choir, and a keynote speech delivered by Pastor Mark Strong of Life Change Christian Center. In addition, local pastor Emmett Wheatfall will deliver Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Following the rally, students will be transported by bus to one of 50 project sites around Portland. The projects have been planned with the assistance of Hands On Greater Portland and the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. The various projects include refurbishing schools, churches and community centers. Many community organizations will also use the day to sign up mentors and tutors for the coming year, and to encourage youth to make a pledge of non-violence.

The day will conclude with a reflection discussion among students about the impact of Dr. King’s life work on their own lives, as well as future student collaboration.

“Whenever I’m involved in an event like this, the main feeling I walk away with is awe combined with rejuvenation,” Wright said. “The daily grind can wear you down, make you feel like you just aren’t getting anywhere. Seeing all of these other folks just as committed as you are and seeing what you all can accomplish together is an incredibly invigorating experience.”

Wright strongly encouraged other students to sign up as a volunteer for one of the MLK Service Day projects.
“There are so many positives to volunteering that I would recommend it to anyone, whether they do it for a day or for a lifetime…no one walks away not having gained something. And might I mention, it’s always fun,” Wright said.

Megan Jensen, SLS member and MLK Service Day planning subcommittee member, also urged the importance of community service.

“There are many personal and communal benefits of reciprocal service,” Jensen said. “By participating in MLK Service Day, we recognize the legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement, and the great impact that legacy has on the world. Through service, we can continue to honor that legacy by actively shaping our communities the way we envision they can be.”

For students that cannot attend the MLK Service Day, there are many other ways to get involved throughout the week. The Queer Resource Center and the Multicultural Center have planned events that can be found on the calendar at

Emily Hoffer, program coordinator of the event, feels confident that the spirit of service will not be limited to the MLK Service Day.

“I don’t expect this excitement to stop after January 18. There is already a lot of energy on campus for community engagement,” Hoffer said.

SLS is currently working on a volunteer calendar for its Web site that students can access to get involved. Members can also help students find community service opportunities with one of their 25 community partners.

“Service allows us to strengthen our communities, influence our Democratic systems, and to continually take action to be the agents of the positive changes we wish to make,” Jensen said.

In addition to Concordia and Portland State, partners involved in this day of service include, George Fox University, Hands On Greater Portland, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Mt. Hood Community College, Multnomah University, Oregon Campus Compact, Portland Community College, Portland Leadership Foundation, Reed College, Season of Service, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, University of Portland and Warner Pacific College.

MLK Day of Service- A Day on, Not a Day Off
Student Leaders for Service

Mon, Jan. 18, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Morning Rally at Concordia University, 9:00 a.m., followed by service projects in the NE Portland area
Transportation provided from Portland State to Concordia and back
Sign up online to volunteer at