The MLK Jr. Season of Service Consortium of Northwest Ohio was born out of a regional convening of higher education institutions hosted by Ohio Campus Compact in 2016. The consortium included Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, Mercy College, Owens Community College, the University of Toledo, the United Way of Greater Toledo, the City of Toledo, and the City of Bowling Green Human Relations Commission. This group met regularly beginning in the summer of 2016 until January 2017 to plan and implement a calendar of MLK Jr. events including volunteer activities and educational programs for the Northwest Ohio region between January 9th to 23rd, 2017. Events included various Day of Service events on MLK Jr. Day, a community Unity Celebration, food drives, guest speakers such as Dr. Cornel West, film screenings, a Cost of Poverty Experience simulation, an Undergraduate Research Symposium, and more. Overall, 34 events were planned and implemented to celebrate and recognize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Some of the unique characteristics also included that faculty, staff, and students worked alongside each other during service events. Additionally, at some sites, multiple campuses’ volunteers were serving alongside each other. To assist with visibility of the event a regional press conference was held at the United Way of Greater Toledo on January 6, 2017 with multiple press organizations attending as well as senior leadership representatives from each organization. The collaboration intends to continue the partnerships formed this year and is looking forward to working together to plan next year’s calendar of events.
Guest blog by Paul Valdez, Associate Director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Bowling Green State University, OCC Advisory Council Chair