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Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

By Sydney Meyer
On January 17, 2018

Photo by: Devon Hall

He’s been dead for 50 years, yet his voice still rings out, speaking for the oppressed, inspiring generations and moving individuals to make a difference. People all over the nation use Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) day as a time for service by giving back to those in need, and serving much the way Martin Luther King Jr. did.

“We can give back in any way. It doesn’t have to be, you know, anything major,” said Donald Anderson, the Multicultural Program Coordinator and instigator of the MLK Day’s service event. “The goal is to do something, to have an opportunity to serve, or to give back to the members of the community.”

This Martin Luther King Day, a group of 14 students spent a few hours volunteering at Vintage Parks Nursing home, where they interacted with the residents, attempting to solve riddles and working out puzzles. Each individual was paired off with a resident, allowing the elderly to show off their puzzle-solving skills as students attempted to help.

Sophomore Will Wallace said the experience was a fun thing to do on a day without really anything to do. He said he would definitely go back and volunteer there again.

OU student Isaac Deer agreed, stating that he enjoyed completing puzzles with the elderly.

Too often people think that volunteering takes up an exorbitant amount of time, or that there aren’t any opportunities around that could really make a difference. However, there are opportunities everywhere. Though something like spending time with nursing home residents doesn’t sound like it would make a massive difference, to its residents it makes all the difference in the world.

“I get good feedback; they enjoy it a lot,” said Sara Hirt, the life enrichment director at Vintage Park.

As the afternoon wore on, the room erupted into frequent bouts of laughter, especially at the end, when the answers to mind-bending riddles were provided. There were also a couple of pranks: one man offered a student a “little” money. As the student refused, the resident opened his wallet and pulled out a one-inch long dollar bill — literal “little” money.

“I think this actually turned out to be a pretty good event. I think the students enjoyed it and they really enjoyed having some people to talk to,” Anderson said.

Students swapped stories about the residents long after the event was over, talking about lives the residents have lived and bridges they have overcome, such as surviving a childhood with eight brothers and four sisters.

Vintage Park Homes has a volunteer program, open for individuals to come enrich the lives of the residents through games and conversation. To get involved with a volunteering program, you can email Sara Hirt at shirt@vintageparkassistedliving.com. After contacting her, you can begin the process of becoming a volunteer, which varies depending on the level of commitment you plan on.

Vintage Park also has a Facebook page called “Vintage Park at Ottawa,” where pictures are posted of volunteer events and upcoming opportunities for involvement.

Giving back to your community doesn’t have to be stressful or overly taxing. Providing care and consideration to a person in need can take many forms. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with a few good stories, ideas about new opportunities, a desire to do something more and if you’re lucky, a “little” money.

 

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