More than 500 hundred students, faculty and staff of the Catholic University of America participated in the community service organized for the Martin Luther King Day in Washington, D.C.
The Catholic University of America has observed the Martin Luther King Day of Service for 11 consecutive years. They have organized service projects on MLK Day since they began in 2006 with just 26 volunteers and in 2015, that number had grown to more than 750 volunteers.
“Seeing Christ’s face in other people and serving them has an effect on you,” said Catholic University senior Joey Dichoso, who was in charge of a group of students serving meals to the homeless at the ‘So Others Might Eat dining room’, in the U.S. Capitol.
Dichoso said he was inspired by his past service with the Missionaries of Charity.
According to an interview with CNA, he said: “They see Christ in the poor.” “If you can see [Christ] especially in those that are rejected by society or those that are deemed unbeautiful by society, if you can see Christ in them, then it helps you see Christ in other people.” “A lot of times when you’re walking around the city, especially in D.C., and you see homeless people, some people may be quick just to keep walking or to throw a couple of dollars their way.”
He stressed on how important it is to really treat that person as a human being and ask them how they’re doing.
“Really the encounter part is making a friend,” he added.
“The MLK Day of Service shows the power of community,” says Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, the associate director of community service in CUA’s office of campus ministry. “The change we can make in that one day is significant. We get a chance to see what good we can do with our God-given talents.”
Several students had offered to do the laundry and prepare meals at the psychiatric care and support for homeless men and women in Northeast Washington.
Jennifer Stanton, a senior,a first- time volunteer said she hadn’t visited the psychiatric home before but got interested.she said: “I know what I’m doing and I know who I’m doing it for,” she told CNA. Martin Luther King, Jr. “set a very great example for service.”
“MLK Day was created to be a service day,” said Isaiah Burroughs, a first year student studying politics who also offered to help at the psychiatric home.
Gene Thornton, a senior crisis counselor at the house, expressed his satisfaction with the students who offered help saying;
“Yeah, it definitely means a lot for them to come out, just to kind of spend some of their personal time, things of that nature, just to give back,” he told CNA.
11 students assisted in serving meals to the homeless at the “So Others Might Eat kitchen” which is few blocks away. They had set up the dining room, served coffee and food, and had series of conversations with the homeless. Some played music from the piano for them.