George Fox joins in day of service on MLK Day

Martin Luther King Jr. - World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico

World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico

For a third straight year, students and staff from George Fox University will join more than 1,200 representatives from nine other colleges and universities to serve on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. George Fox hopes to bring at least 120 volunteers.

The event, organized by Oregon Campus Compact, begins with a rally on the campus of Roosevelt High School at 9 a.m. and will focus on the theme of access to education. To that end, volunteers will work on projects alongside those from Roosevelt in an effort to help the school continue to improve its academic situation.

Roosevelt has made big strides in improving the educational environment the past two years, going from a 39 percent graduation rate in 2009 to an 88 percent graduation rate in 2011. A $7.7 million federal grant, awarded in 2010, has helped the school make its dramatic turnaround.

According to the Oregon Campus Compact site, the focus of the event is "on the exploration of education as a civil right" and is designed to "encourage college student volunteers to take action toward creating an equitable and just society."

“The aim is to make the holiday a day ‘on,’ not ‘off,’ where people from Portland-area college campuses unify together for the common goal of serving others and being the ‘beloved community’ that Dr. King envisioned,” said Shelley Yonemura, director of multicultural student programs at George Fox.

George Fox received a $1,000 MLK Collegiate Challenge grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to help offset costs of the MLK Day of Service – one of six Oregon schools to receive such a grant.

The Portland event ties into a national day of service. Initiated by Congress in 1994, King Day of Service builds on the civil rights leader’s legacy by transforming the federal holiday honoring him into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice.

Service is nothing new at George Fox. For 13 years the university has hosted Serve Day, when it closes school for one day in early September to send students and staff members out to surrounding communities to perform various volunteer projects.

To learn more about George Fox's involvement in the day, contact Shelley Yonemura, the university's MLK coordinator and director of the school's multicultural student programs, at 503-554-2318.