Stony Brook University was a center of goodwill on Saturday as the University partnered with Suffolk County Community College to hold the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. To honor Dr. King’s legacy, more than 200 students, alumni, friends and families from throughout Long Island volunteered their time to assemble emergency preparedness kits at the Student Activities Center as directed by the Long Island Volunteer Center.
President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. welcomed the volunteers by paying tribute to Dr. King. “We seek to honor Dr. King through service, and this is just and fitting, for Dr. King was a man of vision, a man of courage, a man of integrity, a wise and learned man, and a kind man, but most of all, a man who served the people,” said President Stanley.
Many in the crowd were glad for the opportunity to give back and to help others in need. “A simple, easy thing can make a huge difference for somebody,” said Derek Cope, a Stony Brook student in the Accelerated Nursing Program. The group assembled 250 kits that will be distributed through the Gerald J. Ryan Outreach Center in Wyandanch and the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.
Although the time needed to assemble the 250 kits was brief, being of service can have a positive lasting health effect on the volunteers. According to the keynote speaker Stephen Post, Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook, 89 percent of responders to a recent survey from Voluteermatch.org stated that volunteering improved their sense of well being, and 96 percent believed it makes people happier. “Volunteers have less trouble sleeping and reduced anxiety,” said Post.
The day of service was aided by dozens of Stony Brook University AmeriCorps volunteers, who helped keep the crowd moving through the kit production line and guided participants to information tables for community services.
Among the many students participating in the event were nearly a dozen from the Association of Latin American Students from Suffolk County Community College (SCCC). Club president Ramona Miranda said they were happy to give back to the community. “Service is part of our mission,” Miranda said. That sentiment held true for other students from Stony Brook, Farmingdale State College, and St. Joseph’s College.
The kits included a water bottle, flashlight, whistle and a first-aid kit. After the final kit was packed, Diana O’Neill, Executive Director of the Long Island Volunteer Center, expressed her gratitude for the work done and the important role the kits will play in keeping a family safe in future disasters. “Volunteering has the ability to transform,” said O’Neill.