February 11, 2022

West Chester Non-profits Benefit from This Year’s MLK Day of Service

On Thursday, February 24, members of the WCU community will gather in Sykes Student Union Ballrooms for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service project.

WCU MLK day of service

From 1 to 4 p.m., volunteers will participate in service projects that benefit the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center and St. Agnes Outreach Services, both of which provide academic and emotional support as well as basic needs assistance for youth and their families. The Center for Civic Engagement and Social Impact (CCESI) invites the community to (1) create personal letters to students with advice, encouragement, and experiences about preparing for, applying to, and attending college; and (2) make hand-held stress-relief toys and sanitize toys and educational supplies. Representatives from both non-profits will share their personal commitments to serve and a video about Dr. King’s legacy of service will be played. Volunteers may register at this link. For more information, contact Kaileik Asbury at kasbury@wcupa.edu or 610-436-3508.

Says Asbury, CCESI assistant director, “These organizations are pivotal to Chester County and how they directly address the needs of the community and we as an institution will answer Dr. King’s famous question, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

The University’s 2022 celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy culminates in this in-person event. The celebration began virtually on January 27, when Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner and creator of The 1619 Project, discussed via Zoom the history of U.S. education as it relates to people of color. Then on January 28, dozens of viewers participated in the 29th annual campus Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration, hosted virtually by The Society (formerly the WCU Frederick Douglass Society). The recording is available on WCU’s YouTube channel and on WCU’s MLK 2022 website.

For 28 years, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Brunch, has been a sell-out fundraiser for the Frederick Douglass Legacy Scholarships. Without an in-person event this year, in lieu of ticket sales, donations are being accepted for the scholarships at this secure website. There, you can learn about a few of the scholars in their 90-second videos. The deadline for donations is Friday, March 11, 2022.

The January 28 celebration honored this year’s Drum Major for Justice, Katherine Norris ’88, chair of curriculum and instruction at Howard University. From 2007 to August 2021, she was a WCU professor of early and middle grades education and special assistant to the dean of the College of Education and Social Work. Read about her here.

WCU Drum Major for Justice 2022 Katherine Norris

Three current faculty members were also recognized at that event.

Ruth Porritt is the recipient of this year’s Civility Award. A professor of philosophy, she joined WCU’s faculty in 1991 and, according to the nomination documentation, has exhibited a “transformative influence upon the interdisciplinary curriculum within the Honors College and WCU at large. … [and] above-and-beyond contributions to civility-oriented service work.” In her department, she demonstrated “collegiality and attention to civility within evaluation processes, course design, and leadership initiatives.” Student and alumni wrote to support her nomination, pointing out her kindness and the way she modeled respectful civil discourse among those with disagreeing opinions in class and elsewhere. Porritt plans to retire this spring.

In a faculty spotlight, Anita Foeman, professor of communication and media and creator of the DNA Discussion Project, reflected on the changes in diversity, equity, and inclusion she has witnessed in her 40 years at WCU. Foeman will also retire this spring.

Ashlie Delshad, associate professor of political science, was honored with the Excellence in Service-Learning Teaching Award. She teaches courses on environmental policy, social inequality, and food politics; helped create the South Campus Demonstration Garden in 2015; and established weekly donations from the garden to WCU’s Resource Pantry. Thanking the Service-Learning Faculty Work Group, she said one of the most rewarding of her service projects is working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its City Harvest Program. She takes students to volunteer with their urban gardening efforts each spring and in return the South Campus Garden receives plants and organic gardening supplies as a City Harvest member site.

The live Zoom presentation with Hannah-Jones was sponsored by The Society (formerly the WCU Frederick Douglass Society) and the 150th Anniversary Diversity Speaker Series, coordinated through the University Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Society and the University host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration.

Learn more about The Society and its mission here.


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