Fairmont State University and the Tygart Valley United Way will honor the values and legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday, January 13 through the MLK Day of Service benefitting three local agencies.
“It was Martin Luther King’s dream for everyone to work together as one,” said Fairmont State Director of Career Services & Civic Engagement, Susan Rodriguez. “What better way for us to do that than by coming together and celebrating his life on that day and doing good in our community?”
Fairmont State students, faculty and staff participating in the MLK Day of Service will spend Thursday afternoon volunteering their time cleaning and organizing at the Disability Action Center, wrapping up the 2021 Celebration of Lights by dismantling light displays at Morris Park and sorting through clothing donations at the Soup Opera.
“What a wonderful way to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “This Day of Service gets to the heart of what Fairmont State is all about: helping people and communities soar. I urge folks to register for the event, and not only honor Dr. King, but also keep his legacy alive through volunteering.”
The MLK Day of Service will kick off at 11:30 a.m. in Gym 1 of the Falcon Center on Fairmont State’s campus. Social justice advocate Reverend Richard Bowyer will deliver opening remarks at 12 p.m. Bowyer is a graduate of Marshall University and earned both a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Duke University. He retired in 2005 after 43 years as Campus Minister for the Wesley Foundation at Fairmont State and served as the advisor for the Black Student Union. He was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by Fairmont State. Bowyer currently chairs the Board of Directors of two local non-profits: The Monongahela Valley Association of Health Centers, Inc. and Valley Healthcare. He has authored various articles in Traditions, a Journal published by the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
Fairmont State Senior Professor of Business Law, Gregory Hinton, will also address the group of volunteers. Hinton, a lifelong Marion County resident, joined the Fairmont State faculty in 1989. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from West Virginia University after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fairmont State. He was elected to the Fairmont City Council in 1977 where he served for nine years. During his tenure, he became the first African-American to be elected mayor of a major city in West Virginia. Throughout his career, many awards have been bestowed upon Hinton, including the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission’s "Living the Dream" Award in recognition of his scholarship and dedication to education.
The MLK Day of Service registration is currently open and can be accessed at www.fairmontstate.edu/MLKDayofService. Boxed lunches and t-shirts will be provided. Participants will be required to follow the University's health and safety protocols at all times, including the wearing of a mask.
"The United Way is thrilled to partner with Fairmont State to answer Dr. King’s call to serve and make a difference in the lives of others,” said Tygart Valley United Way CEO, Brett White. “Service is a powerful tool that builds strong communities. These volunteers are putting the core American principles of citizenship and service into action.”
In addition to the community service programming, a “Wall of Dreams” will be on display on Main Street in the Falcon Center throughout January for students, faculty and staff to write down and share their own hopes and dreams with one another.