Palm Beach Atlantic University student Brittny Hegenauer found a way to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. one paintbrush stroke at a time on Monday.
|Palm Beach Atlantic University students paint a home in Riviera Beach during the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.|
The junior psychology major was part of a team of nearly 30 students and community volunteers who spent the morning refreshing the exterior of a home in Riviera Beach with recycled paint donated by the Solid Waste Authority.
Although she could have spent her day off from classes relaxing, “I would much rather be out serving the community and helping those in need,” Hegenauer said. “I definitely think it’s going to make a positive impact on the community.”
In all, more than 150 students performed community service at six Palm Beach County locations on Monday as part of the annual MLK Challenge. Since 2001, PBA students have spent Martin Luther King Day participating in service projects through PBA’s Workship program.
The day began with prayer, worship music provided by The Anchor team and words of inspiration from PBA Trustee Robert Simpson and his wife, Denice.
“Students showed up at 8, they had smiles on their faces and they were ready to serve,” said Kate Magro, assistant director of Workship.
Students then boarded buses to each work site. The house painting project was a joint effort of the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, Riviera Beach Community Development Corp., Paint Your Heart Out and the Inner City Youth Golfers Inc., among other agencies.
“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was the ultimate champion of service,” said Annetta Jenkins, director of neighborhood services for the Riviera Beach CRA. “He gave of himself, and it was about uplifting people.”
She noted that in addition to the PBA students, local residents also turned out to help homeowner Michael Davis, who signed up to have his home painted. “We’re hoping this example will inspire another neighbor to improve his or her home,” Jenkins said.
Davis, who lives with his 13-year-old daughter, said he was pleased to have help with the painting, which took the group only a few hours.
“This is a great example of teamwork,” he said. “I appreciate it.”
A few miles away in West Palm Beach, a group of 27 students worked to clean up the city’s waterfront area.
|Theatre arts major Carly Stupienski paints faces at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church on Monday.|
The city’s volunteer coordinator reported that the group collected enough trash and debris from the parking lot area alone to fill 48 bags of trash. Students also filled additional bags with debris collected along the waterfront, she said.
At the Palm Beach Zoo, the student group broke a record for the number of one-time volunteers arriving in a single day, according to the zoo’s volunteer services manager.
Among the tasks the students completed were re-sanding the flamingo houses, adding mulch to the Burmese python area, removing much from the hospital and clearing the back area of the Tropics of the Americas section of the zoo.
In addition to these projects, students also painted outpatient therapy rooms at the Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health in West Palm Beach; put on a talent show for residents at the Lourdes-Noreen McKeen Residence in downtown West Palm Beach; and hosted a drama workshop for neighborhood children at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
Senior theatre arts major Stephanie Plateroti, who was part of the team at Tabernacle, was familiar with this type of ministry, having previously put on street festivals in partnership with Fusion International during a PBA mission trip last summer.
During the trip, which took the team to Albania and Greece, “we got to put on street festivals and bridge the gap between the church and the community,” Plateroti said. “I’m seeing that exact same thing happen here.”