11:39 AM

MLK Day Unites Gators for Community Service

The nation commemorated the legacy of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King on Monday, Jan. 15. Each year, the day brings communities together to celebrate his accomplishments and participate in a national day of service. Among the Houstonians who honored his memory through community service activities were University of Houston-Downtown faculty, staff and students.

In midtown, the MLK Grande Parade kicked off a procession that extended Downtown on San Jacinto Street. Among those participating in the parade were UHD's spirit ambassadors: the Gatorettes dance team, cheerleaders, and mascot Ed-U-Gator.

Closer to campus, a group of Gators assembled at Ketelsen Elementary School to participate in GatorServe, an community service initiative serving the city's Near Northside community. The school served as a home base for Gator volunteers, who were greeted by UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz and Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros. Also participating in GatorServe were Muñoz's wife, Dr. Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, and son Juan Amado Muñoz.

"In going into neighborhoods and serving others, all of us are also enhanced," President Muñoz told the volunteers assembled at Ketelsen. "It's not just what we can do for others. It's reciprocal. We learn through these experiences and use this knowledge to help even more people."

"I was once a service learner at UHD like yourselves," said Cisneros, who earned a teaching certification from UHD. "I can't tell you what an honor it is to serve our City Council in such a dynamic community. You being here and seeking opportunities to learn from our communities and help our communities will take you far."

Following opening remarks from Muñoz and Cisneros, groups of Gators were assigned to different tasks, including graffiti removal from buildings and community clean up duties.

GatorServe was coordinated by UHD's Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and Student Activities. This was the first year for this initiative, and it was covered by KHOU Ch. 11 and KTRK. Ch. 13.