Service Fair Kicks Off MLKJ Symposium

To launch this year’s six-week Martin Luther King Junior Symposium, the Cross-Cultural Center teamed up with the Social Ecology Field Study Program to host the Public & Community Service Fair on Wednesday, Jan. 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom.

Kimberly Van | New University

Kimberly Van | New University

Though this service fair has been a part of UC Irvine’s calendar for years, this is the first time it was featured as the kickoff event for the MLKJ Symposium.

“A lot of people really think about him, I think partially because he had a very strong presence among the black community, for the civil rights movement, for the black community at that point in time,” Director of the Cross-Cultural Center Kevin Huie said. “But he also was a strong proponent of giving back to your community, of providing service to those in need.”

About 40 organizations from a variety of fields were present for the event, including Kidworks, Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Carson Station and Working Wardrobes.

“I’m always looking for volunteers and interns. They enrich our program so much,” Julie Larson, volunteer services manager of Share Ourselves, stated. Approximately 250 weekly volunteers help this nationally recognized health center provide services to the county.

Many organizations, including Share Ourselves, were contacted because they were a part of the Social Ecology Field Study Program. Other agencies were contacted because of their involvement with the UCI’s former community engagement center, the Center for Service in Action.

Amanda Hastings, the current volunteer recruitment and engagement coordinator of Tustin-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, explained, “To have young people in our offices is just a burst of energy.”

The second event of the symposium, Day of Service, was held at the Orange County Food Bank.

This year’s symposium will also feature a lecture by Michael Eric Dyson, a workshop entitled “School to Prison Pipeline,” a discussion on the meaning and manifestation of anti-blackness and a night of reflection.

“My hope is that people who are participating understand the big picture of the social issues, the social justice issues that these agencies are proponents for,” Huie commented. “I hope the students take advantage of the opportunities they have and that they learn a little bit about what these issues look like.”