ECU volunteers honor King with community action

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Faculty, staff and students from East Carolina University joined together to honor Martin Luther King Jr. during the 2012 MLK Day of Service Jan. 16. Activities pictured above include, left to right, ECU College of Business graduate assistants Heather Clayton and Devang Patel, working together to paint a wall in the Salvation Army’s Family Store; Mandi Stewart (in the black visor), director of operations and public relations for the Salvation Army; Abby Knight (in the white shirt), an instructor in the College of Business who led the graduate students in their service project at the Salvation Army; and left to right, Ryan Chadwell of Richmond, Va., holding a ceiling tile to replace the one being removed by Don Philyaw of Greensboro, in the planned Salvation Army teen center. Chadwell and Philyaw are graduate assistants in the College of Business. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy could be seen in the helping hands of East Carolina University students participating in a Day of Service on Jan. 16.

The university’s Volunteer & Service-Learning Center sponsored and organized the annual event encouraging students to work at non-profit organizations in Greenville. A total of 120 students volunteered with nine agencies, said Shawn Moore, community partner coordinator at VSLC. The day supports ECU’s mission to be a national model for public service and regional transformation.

College of Business instructor Abby Knight, another instructor and 12 graduate assistants picked The Salvation Army on Dickinson Avenue for their service project.

“I think it’s great to turn the day into a day of action, rather than a sale at the mall,” Knight said. “It’s significant because he spent his life calling people to action. We’re putting that in motion.”

Devang Patel, 23, of Apex, is earning a master’s of business administration degree and will attend medical school. He already volunteers at two health clinics in Pitt County. Fellow graduate assistants Heather Clayton, 25, of Salisbury and Aly Schillig, 23, of Canton, Ohio gave Patel pointers in painting a wall. Clayton said service is a part of the leadership and professional development coursework they teach.

“We want to practice what we preach,” Clayton said. “We also want to get a feel for what our students are doing.”

Students re-painted yellow walls in the Family Store shades of blue, green and tan. They replaced damaged ceiling tiles and scrubbed, vacuumed and cleaned a planned teen center that will open in a former restaurant in April. The remodeling is part of a larger effort in the organization’s work with teenagers. The building also eventually may be used as an overnight shelter for the homeless, said Mandi Stewart, director of operations and public relations for The Salvation Army.

“What’s great about this is that the students are willing, able and excited to be a part of our team and we’re just as excited to have them here,” Stewart said.

Service learning is part of the college’s curriculum each semester. Last fall business students and faculty worked at Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck. This spring they are working with the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. Instructors hope to show students by example that community service doesn’t take too much time and is fun, Knight said.

“It’s a great bonding experience,” she said.

Stewart said the ECU volunteers are a blessing.

“It’s a crucial factor to getting projects done around here,” Stewart said. “Manpower is needed every day.”