On Monday, January 15, Palm Beach Atlantic University celebrated MLK Day by continuing its tradition of an MLK Day of Service in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County to organize 18 community service projects across Palm Beach County to support non-profits and other organizations across the community.
“It’s an awesome thing for us to carry out Dr. King’s dream to bring unity and just show how we can care for our community despite all our differences,” PBA Workship Director Nathan Chau said.
Service that Makes a Difference
A total of 829, including students, faculty, and friends of PBA, generously donated their time and worked together to accumulate an impressive sum of 1996.5 service hours. There were 22 opportunities to serve, which benefited 17 different non-profit organizations. Notably, volunteers at CROS Ministries collected 500 pounds of corn and an incredible 8,500 pounds of peppers, which made a significant impact on local food resources. Volunteers at the Tree of Life Resource Center prepared 1,000 meals and sorted eight pallets of bread. The community spirit also extended to Paint Your Heart Out, where volunteers painted a house in Riviera Beach, leaving a lasting positive impact on a deserving family. During one shift at Feeding South Florida, volunteers packed an impressive 7,040 pounds of food, translating to 3,391 meals for those in need. Other projects included park clean-ups and interacting with rescue dogs. The collective efforts of all the volunteers at the MLK Day of service showcased the power of unity and service, embodying the values and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Chau thinks projects like gleaning fresh produce for food banks could be eye-opening experiences for students. The project helps students learn that despite having a more affluent area on one side of the Intracoastal, there are those in Palm Beach County who face food insecurity, and every effort helps to provide meals for people who otherwise might go hungry.
“For myself, personally, MLK Day is like our Super Bowl,” Chau said.
As early as July, members of the Workship staff began planning the following year’s Day of Service. The organization takes a lot of time and effort, and Chau says everyone gets anxious to ensure everything is executed well when the day arrives. However, despite the event’s complexity, he describes feeling a sense of calm when the volunteers are being sent out because he knows something good is happening.
PBA’s Partnership with the Jewish Federation
PBA has partnered with the Jewish Federation for Palm Beach County since 2020. The two institutions have come together to expand their efforts to reach the community. The interfaith partnership allows a learning experience about how the Jewish community and MLK worked closely during the Civil Rights Movement. The partnership has brought PBA and the Jewish Federation closer as neighbors working together for the greater good.
Chau states that every MLK Day of Service is different because the world changes yearly. He mentioned how so much negative news is vital for people to be a light to encourage others in their darkness.
“There’s no better time than now to serve,” Chau said.
Workship – An. Enduring Impact
Each PBA student completes 45 hours of community service a year for the Workship program. While some students may initially not understand the reason behind serving, as they become the hands and feet of Jesus to their community, they can develop an appreciation for the program’s initiative.
Chau believes the Day of Service aligns with MLK’s legacy of not caring about superficial societal divisions and instead emphasizing a focus on those in need. He wants students to focus less on meeting their hours of requirement and more on the life-changing experiences they gain through service to others. He wants students to have fun and make friends as they “get their hands dirty” serving.
“I hope that whenever you walk away, even if you don’t see everything come to fruition, you know you had a part in something that’s going beyond anything you could have imagined and has a long-lasting impact,” Chau said.
Watch the thank you video from PBA President Dr. Debra Schwinn and President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach Michael Hoffman here.