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In person or over Zoom, UIC students help the community

February 1, 2021

Nearly 200 students spent their day off volunteering in the Chicago community for the MLK Day of Service, led by UIC Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. The event supported eight organizations around Chicago; two events took place in person — safely and socially distanced — and the rest were held virtually.

“I decided to take part in MLK Day of Service because of the purpose of the day and what MLK stood for. Not only did he represent the need to be accepting and inclusive of all races and ethnic backgrounds, but his cause was for the greater good and that’s something that we need to focus on,” said Salaam Khater, a sophomore in biology and psychology.

At the Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center, volunteers such as Khater helped by winterizing, cleaning and repairing a leak in the roof of the women’s residence.

“One thing I can say I learned from that day is how to patch up a roof leak. But I also got to know the women that lived there,” Khater said. “I learned that despite lack of income or lack of economic support, do what you can with what you have. Go out there and give back to the community, whether that means starting from nothing or asking millions of volunteers to lend a hand.”

UCAN hosted an in-person Christmas light takedown from the Light Up Lawndale event in December.

“I volunteered in my neighborhood, the North Lawndale community. I decided to volunteer on MLK Day of Service because why not help others in your free time? The little things can go a long way,” said Denale Fowler, a sophomore in applied psychology.

The six virtual events offered ways for students to reach out to members of the community over the phone or over Zoom.

“We wanted them to be impactful projects and actually be useful for them in ways that they needed now,” said Skyler Imhoff, graduate assistant for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and graduate student in urban higher education.

One virtual volunteer opportunity was hosted by Esperanza Community Services, which provides programs for people with disabilities.

“Students were able to visit with them virtually and read books through Zoom to the residents there, and as the students were reading, the residents were drawing. They were drawing what they heard and at the end of the event, they got to do an art show and show off the different drawings that they created,” Imhoff said.

Other virtual community outreach volunteer events were hosted by Coalition For A Better Chinese American CommunityBe the matchJapanese American Service CommitteeRenaissance Social Services and Young Masterbuilders in Motion.

“All of those had some sort of way for students to talk with each other or talk with members of the community. It was a cool way to see it come to life like that,” Imhoff said.

Visit UIC Lens to view more photos by UIC Creative & Digital Services from this event.


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