The University Record, January 28, 1998

Flint volunteers cover the town

From left, Cori Baker, Bella Zimelivich and David Bell put the finishing touches on a mural at Cook Elementary school in Flint. Photo by Marian Ritthaler

By Michael P. Jones-Coleman

More than 200 students, faculty and staff from U-M-Flint volunteered their time and a little elbow grease at sites throughout the Flint area, in celebration and commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 19.

From assisting with deliveries for a local food bank to helping with placements of animals for the Genessee County Humane Society, U-M-Flint volunteers spent the day honoring the slain civil rights leader with a day of service. Chancellor Charlie Nelms instituted the MLK community service program upon his arrival on campus nearly four years ago. Nelms is a strong believer in volunteerism as a contribution to one's community. "We have a duty to make a difference," he said. "I couldn't be happier with the campus community's level of participation this year."

Mary Jo Sekelsky, director of student life and coordinator of the MLK community service programs, said early evaluations from sites and participants indicate MLK '98 was an enormous success. "Dr. King would be proud of our volunteers," she said. "Sharing our time and talent with others carries on Dr. King's dream in a tangible way. It also serves as a reminder that each of us can play a role in completing the journey that Dr. King began," she said.

Several staff members and students said volunteering on MLK Day was extremely rewarding. Helena Gallenbeck took a day off from the Center for University Outreach and served as a site leader. This was her third year as a volunteer on MLK Day.

"We had a great time," Gallenback said. "The Genessee County Community Action Agency had a real system going. Volunteers packed hundreds of boxes of food that needed to be delivered."

Marilyn J. Christensen, with Campus Services, has enjoyed being a volunteer since the MLK service program began.

"I enjoy doing something different every year," Christensen said. "I've done it every year since U-M-Flint started the program. It's good for the community, and it's nice to be out there helping others."

Patricia Mansour of University Relations took a good friend of hers with her for the day.

"I adopted my dog Rosie from Adopt-A-Pet in Flint, and I wanted her to be with me during my volunteer shift at the agency," Mansour said. "We both had a great time. Adopt-A-Pet gave her a toy, cookies, a bone . . . and I was told that if I wanted coffee, I would have to make it myself. Rosie was treated better than I was . . . but I'm not jealous. I'm really not!"