The University Record, January 24, 1994

U-M-Dearborn community celebrates by serving

By Terry Gallagher
U-M-Dearborn University Relations

Spring will bloom in a once-derelict greenhouse at Detroit’s Weatherby Elementary School, thanks in part to work done by volunteers from the U-M-Dearborn campus as part of their observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The greenhouse, which, according to the school’s principal, hasn’t been used for at least 15 years, will get new paint, windows, shelves and plants in the next few weeks.

More than 200 students, staff and faculty members from the Dearborn campus commemorated King’s birthday by volunteering to serve in a variety of community organizations in southeastern Michigan. They painted hallways and common areas in a community-owned apartment house on Cass Avenue in Detroit, served as tour guides at the Museum of African American History, updated medical records at the Catherine McAuley Health Systems/Neighborhood Health Clinic in Ypsilanti, and played with children at the Considine Recreation Center in Detroit.

In addition, the Dearborn campus community is gathering clothing and food donations for the Neighborhood Health Clinic and for First Step/Western Wayne County Project on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

“If Martin Luther King were alive today, he would have been with you; if he were alive today, he would be doing what you have done,” the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told some of the volunteers at a reception held at Detroit’s Second City nightclub, where members of the campus community gathered at the end of the day.

“You are a spark that has ignited a fire that is warming both of our communities,” Anthony said.

A committee of Dearborn staff, students and faculty worked with United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit (UCS) to connect volunteers with agencies in need.

UCS President Geneva Williams, president and CEO of UCS, said that “Dr. King was more than a dreamer; he was a doer. What your campus is doing is really the epitome of Dr. King’s message, and I hope that this is the start of many, many more ventures in the future.”

Judy R. Kennard, senior accountant in the Dearborn Office of Financial Services, one of the organizers of the campus’s commemoration of King’s birthday, said that plans for next year’s activities are already under way. “We hope that the success of our effort will encourage other colleges and universities in the region to join in and work together to improve our communities,” Kennard said.

“The people who follow you will be especially important,” said Maryann Mahaffey, president of Detroit City Council, who also spoke at the reception. “Your coming in to our city gives the message that there are people on the outside who give a damn about the city of Detroit.”