By attending Salve Regina, a Mercy Institution, service is such an integral part of what the university stands for. When reflecting upon community service and being a service advocate, it allows students like myself to become better connected with numerous organizations in and around Newport to expand our outreach to community members and anyone who needs assistance.
I am currently a Service Advocate at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, a not-for-profit site that provides numerous services to the community including food distribution, education, wellness, cooking programs, and more for the past 100 years. Established in 1922, this center provides assistance and support to anyone in the community who needs and strives to improve the economic, social, and well-being of all Newport County residents.
I chose to become a Service Advocate at the M.L.K. Center because they provide so many services to all populations of the Newport community. The individuals who work and volunteer there are such a wonderful group of people who are so dedicated to the mission of the center and value helping others. When choosing a site to volunteer at this year I knew I wanted to work with this site as there are so many ways to get involved.
Before the start of this year, I organized a volunteer program during the Day of Service for first year students to become more familiar with volunteering in the Newport community. During this event we made dental hygiene kits, bags of candy to be distributed for the Food to Friends program and made sandwiches for the Soup and Sandwich Day program. Over the course of the day the students were able to get familiarized with how not-for-profits like the M.L.K. Center function.
This year I have participated in many of the food distribution programs including Food to Friends, Produce to the People, Mobile Food Pantry, and Soup and Sandwich Day. I go to the center twice a week and help make food for the Soup and Sandwich, ride to different locations around the Newport community for the Mobile Food Pantry, fill orders for the Food to Friends program, and distribute fresh produce to individuals and families here in Newport. The site ensures that everyone has easy access and the ability to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables. Programs like this are so important as it brings people together and we can promote and educate one another on how we can work together for a greater cause.
Additionally, last year I was a Service Advocate at the M.L.K. Center specifically at one program called the Newport String Project. This program provides free weekly music lessons to different string instruments. During my time as a Service Advocate there, I helped teach lessons to students, I created practice videos for the students to follow along, and online games when COVID-19 was a concern for students to come to the center. Through this program I worked with children and their teachers to promote music education and the help build the students’ passion for music. This was such a great experience as I saw the students’ love for music grow over the course of my time there.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center provides countless important community programs and services that benefit all members of the Newport community, and it is important to support and promote sites like this as they have made a lasting impact on so many lives. As a Service Advocate, I will continue to learn more about the different programs they offer to the community and more ways I can contribute to Newport individuals and families.