Broward College gives back to the community on MLK Day

Sara Varela


Giving back to the community is a mission for Broward College. For the fourth year, BC has joined in the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by awarding funds to community organizations doing volunteer work.

“Martin Luther King Day activities in our community are simply a very normal offshoot of what Broward College espouses to everyday,” said Mary Bagley, member of the Corporate Partnership Alliance for Broward College.

This year, the college awarded $181,000 to 42 community organizations doing a variety of service projects that honored MLK, almost doubling last year’s $96,000. Over 70 organizations applied for the grant of up to $5,000 each.

The criteria for the grant included significant service to address a community need, volunteers’ engagement, and support of the legacy of Dr. King.

Money for the grant is provided by funding from the Florida Legislature.

The National Martin Luther King Day of Service was established in 1994 by former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania Harry Wolford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis to honor MLK’s legacy with a Day On to serve people and the community, as he would have done. 

“He was totally about service… Service to everyone, particularly the underprivileged,” said Bagley.

Over the years, the project has grown exponentially all around the U.S. with more volunteers participating every year.

At BC, MLK Day of Service represents an opportunity to give back to the community and bring together people of all walks of life to help those who need it the most.

“The real part of it is bringing together members of our Broward County community, that love to volunteer, serve back and help others, along with our many students, staff and faculty,” said BC President J. David Armstrong, Jr.

But it isn’t only the Broward County and BC communities that participate. Corporate sponsors also contribute to the annual day of service.

“I’ve been volunteering since I was 5-years-old and for me it’s always personal,” said Tim Hogans, Broward’s area manager of external affairs for Florida Power & Light. “We have to give back to the communities we live, work and play in.”

Part of this year’s service projects included a painting of a mural outside Lighthouse of Broward in Fort Lauderdale, donation of packages for the homeless at BC’s South Campus, and the painting of quilts for children at the hospital at Greater Hollywood YMCA.

Just at the YMCA, more than 150 people volunteered throughout the day, according to Matt Libby, executive director of the YMCA.

“You come to events like these and engage in organizations like these and you see the goodness in people,” said Armstrong. 

“I think those of us who give back our time always feel good about our community and it helps us focus on the positive things people are doing.”

Because of the work that volunteers have provided over the past four years, BC has been able to make an impact on the community by funding over 130 service projects.

“It’s one thing to talk about things but actually getting out and doing something where you see the result of helping people, helping the community in a wide variety of ways is what it really is all about,” said Armstrong.

“There’s so many great, non-profit organizations that need volunteers and would not be able to do what they do without people to help support their efforts and help those who are underserved,” he added.

Armstrong also thanked everyone, from the BC family and community, who supported the initiative this year and came out to help.

Even though the MLK Day of Service is nationally recognized as the day to give back, people are encouraged to give back and help those who need it the most throughout the year.

“Continue to think about ways that you can serve and make a difference in somebody’s life even with a small act of kindness,” said Bagley.