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Monday, January 16, 2012

Omaha Students Honor MLK Day With Day of Service & Celebration

What will you do on MLK Day? To commemorate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Monday, Jan. 16) people from around the globe will come together to remember the man and his dream. Omaha, Nebraska, is no different. Several local universities, area high school students and community volunteers will once again celebrate MLK’s birthday with a day of community service and awards ceremony.

Students and volunteers from around the Metro and surrounding areas will gather at Omaha North High School, 4410 N 36th St., to remember the civil rights leader by participating in community service projects. The day’s events are organized by University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Student-Community Leadership and Service (SCLS).

“We see it as a day on,” said Kathe Oleson Lyons, director of SCLS. “Not a day off.”

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating that instead of a day off from work or school the Dr. King holiday will serve as a national day of volunteer service. With this objective Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action during their “day off.” The MLK Day of Service breaks down barriers that have divided individuals in the past and brings together people who might not ordinarily meet.

The 2012 UNO led event will feature an educational program and reflection on the importance of MLK's legacy along with the following community outreach projects in Omaha and Council Bluffs:

- Participants will make fleece blankets for Project Harmony, a non-profit child advocacy center in Omaha whose mission is to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect.

- Participants will create educational materials for Conservation Fusion to assist children in Madagascar. Conservation Fusion is an Omaha-based non-profit organization that engages communities in education on local and global conservation challenges and worldwide sustainability.

- Participants will fill pantry boxes for Food Bank for the Heartland, founded in 1981, is an organization whose mission is to eliminate hunger in Nebraska and western Iowa through community collaboration.

- Participants will help build homes in Council Bluffs alongside Habitat for Humanity, an international organization dedicated to building homes for people in need, regardless of race or religion.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. inside North High School with volunteer efforts concluding at 1:30 p.m. Visit or for more information.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Celebration at Creighton

On Jan. 16, Creighton University will be the site for the "Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration." The community is invited to attend the free celebration, which will include remarks by Creighton President, Timothy R. Lannon; a presentation of community and student awards; and recognition of a university-sponsored elementary school poster and essay contest.

Award presentations will include the President's Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award to Beth Katz, founder and executive director of Project Interfaith, and Willie Barney, president and facilitator of the Empowerment Network.

Katz, a 2000 Creighton graduate, recipient of the 2008 Alumni Merit Award and an adjunct professor, created Project Interfaith as a non-profit organization that would help create a world in which people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures are valued, included and protected. 

Led by Barney, Omaha’s Empowerment Network, is a group of leaders, residents and organizations who work together to facilitate positive, measurable and dramatic change in the north Omaha community. 

Other awards include Student Leadership Awards, presented to Creighton students who put into practice the ideals of Dr. King, and campus awards for diversity excellence and innovation.  All will be honored at 4 p.m., in Creighton's Mike and Josie Harper Center for Student Life and Learning, Hixson-Lied Auditorium, 602 N. 20th St.

For a week-long series of MLK events hosted by Creighton, visit this link.

Whether you are off work on the 16th or not, take time to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamt of equality for all and his vision was not just for African-Americans but for all Americans.
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
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