More than 150 Mamaroneck High School students spent the Martin Luther King day holiday on Monday, January 18 helping out in the community as part of the national “Day of Service” project. It was the schools first year participating in the volunteer program, which was in addition to the annual in-school commemoration.
“This is our personal gift to the CAP Center,” said MHS junior Shayna Han, who along with Sophomore Emma Goldstein organized the design and painting of a huge wall-sized mural for the Mamaroneck Community Action Program (CAP) Center. “I’m not into the selling or showing of my artwork,” she said, “But I love doing art for others.”
Doing for others was the theme of the day. Shifts of students poured into the CAP Center hour by hour until the mural was complete according to their designs.
“This is different from any other community service project I’ve done before. I liked the idea of doing this one over the others because it gives you a chance to express your creativity,” said Ms. Goldstein. “The mural sums up what the CAP Center is all about.”
Ms. Goldstein and Ms. Han, with guidance from CAP Center Director Guisela Marroquín, designed the mural to represent three age groups served the the CAP Center: early childhood, youth and adulthood. The students took key words that Ms. Marroquin supplied them with (such as nurturing, values, imagination, leadership, respect, citizenship, compassion) and brainstormed mural ideas with a committee during the week prior to Martin Luther King Day. The scenes they came up with — featuring rainbows, sunsets, families and helping hands, among other things — were depicted enveloped in clouds, with people of all ages pictured below in an attempt to portray them dreaming, said Ms. Goldstein.
One father, who came to help out with his wife and two boys, explained how his children’s interest in community service began when one son completed his Mitzvah project in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah a couple years ago.
Ms. Marroquín expressed tremendous gratitude for the work the students put in. “The mural looks fantastic. It’s a wonderful addition to this very homey space,” she said. “The community is supportive in every respect, and I am always very thankful for the strength and dedication of our volunteers.”
Photos from MLK Celebration courtesy of FAL Photography.
The CAP Center was one of numerous locations where students volunteered on Monday. Other students participated in projects for Habitat for Humanity, the United Hebrew Center, Sarah Neuman, and At Home on the Sound (a non-profit launching this spring to assist seniors) and spearheaded food drives on behalf of the Hunger Task Force outside Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s. By day’s end, nearly half of the basement at the CAP Center, where the mural is located, was piled with bags of groceries and boxes of cereal. Students helped sort and arrange the items, as one volunteer noted, “This will all be gone in no time.”
‘Day of Service’ at MHS was organized by the MHS PTSA with support from the administration. PTSA organizers Eve Sliver and Sondra Levy said they were pleasantly surprised with the large turnout among students and the diverse pool of kids that participated.
Will MHS do this again next year? “Most definitely,” said Ms. Silver. “The proud feelings of the kids and the recipients of their services was incredibly palpable. It is clear to me that community service assists greatly in the establishment of a student’s self worth and serves as an invaluable opportunity to experience how life operates outside of their immediate world.”
Debbie Manetta is public information officer for the Mamaroneck School District.