After a full week of school, they could have chosen to spend Saturday morning sleeping in. But instead, 13 Heathwood Upper School students met at Epworth Children’s Home at 8:30 on Saturday, January 14, to take part in Heathwood’s annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.
For a solid three hours, the students worked in small teams on painting projects in and around Epworth’s cottages. That was similar to the work Heathwood students did at last year’s MLK Day of Service, when they helped put the finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity home for Heathwood Dining Commons employee Rebecca Macon.
Their work was much appreciated, said Heathwood Director of Community Relations Willis Ware, because Epworth is leanly staffed and relies on volunteers to sustain their work. “They told us Martin Luther King Day is a huge day for them because it brings out such community support,” Mr. Ware said.
But even as they were giving back, Mr. Ware noted, the students also gained valuable experience in return. “Working together on these painting projects allowed them to problem-solve and practice effective collaboration at the same time that they were supporting a great institution,” he said.
“We enjoyed having the students from Heathwood Hall on campus for the recent MLK Service Day," said Epworth Volunteer Coordinator Beth Robinson. "It's great to see youth giving back to the community through service projects. Thank you to all who participated. With your service, we are able to better serve our residents.”
Martin Luther King Day is just one of many opportunities Heathwood students have to perform a wide range of community service activities. While many students perform significant service over the summer, volunteering at summer camps and nonprofits, others take part in projects like the quarterly Gills Creek Clean-ups, the annual Salvation Army High School Battle of the Bells, and a newly launched volunteer partnership with EdVenture, that are coordinated through the school.
While all Upper School students are required to perform 20 hours of community service each year, many go far beyond that. Last year, 20 Upper School students and one Middle School student were honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing at least 100 hours of community service in a one-year period.
That spirit of giving back, Mr. Ware says, makes the Martin Luther King Day of Service “a very good fit with Heathwood’s mission not just to educate our students intellectually but also to help them discover the value of using their time and talents to give back.”