January 24, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do right.”

Close to 1,000 students, faculty, and alumni of Catholic University put those words into action during the University’s 15th annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 20. The MLK Day of Service is a way for the University to serve neighboring organizations including the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Salvation Army, Little Sisters of the Poor, the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehab Center, So Others Might Eat (SOME), Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, and the Ronald McDonald House.

Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, associate director of Campus Ministry and Community Service, has helped organize the MLK Day of Service at Catholic University since 2006. Looking back on how the event has grown, she said one notable change has been the involvement of athletic teams and their coaches. 

“There has been a huge culture shift in the whole Catholic University community in regard to service and justice,” she said. “The day of service was an opportunity to administer team bonding while working towards a specific goal of service, all while initiating a reflection of the life MLK led.”

Sophomore basketball player Maggie Bednarek spent the day volunteering at Yu Ying Public Charter School in Northeast D.C. Together with her teammates, Bednarek worked with students to sew and fill bags of toys that will later be donated to children in hospitals. 

“I think that this is part of MLK’s goal of giving back and what he intended for the world; it really is great that we carry on the tradition of service and helping those in need,” she said. “I know we all felt closer to God after volunteering.” 

Elsewhere in the city, sophomore Clare Wagner led a group of 50 volunteers that visited the elderly at Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehab Center. 

“Volunteering for MLK Day brought me closer to my faith, and I bonded in a new kind of friendship with people almost 60 years older than me,”  Wagner said. “We all had the same understanding that we were doing this with and for love.”

McKenzie Coghill, B.A. 2022, Marketing and Communications Intern. For more information, contact communications@cua.edu.