Home Campus Directory | A-Z Index

Students from western campuses and community work together to honor MLK

Unity Day
The lighting of the Unity candle brings together the campus and community.
1/17/2012 —



Penn State New Kesnington, Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, and Shenango
Community Service Projects

Campus, Community, Local Businesses, Neighborhood Churches
Lighting of the Unity Candle

Unity Day Photos: http://psnk.smugmug.com/ online

In honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., student volunteers from Penn State New Kensington and other Penn State campuses in western Pennsylvania took on community service projects in the local area.  Billed as “Make it a Day On, Not a Day Off,” the activities were a part of the University’s celebration of King’s birthday. Jan. 16 was a federal holiday and there were no classes that day.

The multi-campus community service project is an annual event that moves around the region. New Kensington was the host campus this year. Ten New Kensington students—Myquan Harris-Moore, Emily McDaniel, Kelsie Nury, Tansey Ochs, Courtney Rockwell, Grant Schoenfelder, Andrew Sheffler, Dan Sheffler, Amethyst Vozar and Kevin Turner--along with their counterparts from the Penn State campuses of Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, and Shenango,  travelled in groups to various community organizations in the area. The students did volunteer work at Habitat for Humanity Restore in New Kensington, Valley Community Services in Cheswick, Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society in Tarentum, Hope Center in Tarentum, Family Services of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, and Tri-City Life Center in Lower Burrell. Lauren Blum, student life coordinator at Penn State New Kensington, developed the service project plan for the campuses.

“Penn State encourages the community service aspect of the holiday," said Blum, who is working on a master's degree in student affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania “Students volunteered to give up their day off at school to assist the organizations with cleaning, painting, organizing--whatever needed to be done.”

Habitat ReStores are outlets that accept donated goods for resale. The New Kensington ReStore focuses on home improvement goods -- furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances. These donated goods are sold to the general public at a fraction of the retail price to help local affiliates fund the construction of Habitat homes within their communities. Campus volunteers reorganized a section of the store so additional items can be displayed for sale.

The Historical Society runs the Hetitage Museum that celebrates the cultural, industrial, and ethnic heritage of the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas river valleys in southwestern Pennsylvania. Students rearranged exhibits to open up space for artifacts that have been in storage for some time.

The celebration of the life of and works of King continued the next day when students, faculty and staff came together with Hightower Scholars and the community, local businesses and neighborhood churches. "A Celebration of Unity" featured an information fair on volunteering at non-profit organizations, a panel discussion on political engagement by minority populations, a potluck dinner, and a special documentary and musical performance by Linda Brown, organist for Mt. Calvary Church. The highlight of the evening was the lighting of unity candle by members of the campus, community, local businesses and neighborhood churches.

Diane Hightower, executive director of Hightower Scholars -- a nonprofit organization, and Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs at the campus, developed the multimedia program for the 83rd anniversary of King's birth. Kevin Snider, chancellor at the New Kensington campus, delivered the opening remarks. Valerie McDonald Roberts, manager of the Department of Real Estate for Allegheny County, moderated the panel discussion. Non-profit groups at the fair included United Way of Westmoreland County, Alle-Kiski Hope Center, American Red Cross, Westmoreland County Food Bank and Faith in Action.

For photos of the Unity Day celebration, visit http://psnk.smugmug.com/ online.

For more information, contact Lauren Blum at 724-334-6063 or ldb14@psu.edu via email.


Email this story to a friend Facebook Twitter