Community Engagement News

Jan 23, 2023. 5 min read

Community Engagement News January 23, 2023


Barry University Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Day of Service in Liberty City

MLK Day of Service

Barry Service Corps Fellow Virginia Rivas tends a vegetable garden at Charles R. Drew K–8 Center in Liberty City. Each year, MLK Day of Service reaffirms the university’s commitment to social justice and collaborative service. (Photo by Glenn Bowen)

Barry University students, alumni, staff members, and administrators celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy by participating in a day of service earlier this month in Liberty City.

One group of volunteers helped to clean up a building that will serve as a community resource center. Besides removing and discarding unwanted items from the building, the volunteers spruced up the interior walls with a fresh coat of paint.

Another group tended a vegetable garden at Charles R. Drew K–8 Center, a visual and performing arts school administered by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The volunteers weeded the garden plots, turned the soil, painted the concrete blocks around the garden beds, and watered the plants.

The two service projects were planned in partnership with Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI). A nonprofit organization, MCI focuses its work on at-risk children while implementing programs aimed at transforming Liberty City into a prosperous community.

Liberty City is a community of color where MCI aims to break the “cycle of poverty.” At its website, MCI reports that the per capita income there is lower than that of 97% of U.S. neighborhoods.

MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service

In Liberty City, a group of volunteers from Barry help to clean up a building that will serve as a community resource center. Caught on camera (from top row, L–R) are Alejandra Leon, Kean Huy Alado, and Jorquasha Martin; Joseline Bucumi and Jocelyn Flores; Junior Dameus and Yolissa Graham-Richardson; Carlo Jacques; Isaac Muliro; Dr. Victor Romano and Sherese Arne. (Photos by Glenn Bowen)

Ms. LaTousha Daniels, MCI’s president and chief executive officer, welcomed the service participants from Barry. She expressed gratitude for the university’s partnership with her organization.

Mr. Nigel Wright, MCI’s community manager, described Liberty City as a “food desert”—an area that lacks access to affordable produce for a healthy diet. He said the building that was being renovated would facilitate support to children and families, providing “an opportunity for the community to make a fresh start.”

MCI leaders—including Mr. Ragasten Paul, chief operating officer—and some staff members of the organization worked side by side with the MLK Day of Service participants from Barry.

Dr. Victor Romano, Barry’s vice provost for student success and undergraduate studies, took part in the day of service. Barry Service Corps alums Donté Roberts and Rajon Wright participated as well.

MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service

The other group of Barry volunteers—including Zhasmina Kerimova, Sharonda Pipkins, and Evgeny Yudin; Leida Holguin; Donté Roberts and Rajon Wright; and Mia Hunt—do various garden chores at Charles R. Drew K–8 Center.

As the day of service drew to a close, Mr. Wright, the MCI community manager, thanked the Barry volunteers, saying they “did an amazing job.”

Kyle Edwards, Camila Hubbs, Taaliyah McCormick, Ryelle Russell, and Valentine Thomas were among the students who turned out on January 14 to honor the legacy of Dr. King and his vision for Americans to serve.

Undergraduates Carlo Jacques and Junior Dameus reflected on the day of service as a “significant” experience. Jacques said he valued the opportunity to be of service to the community.

“A meaningful life is a life of service,” declared Dameus, a freshman from Haiti.

MLK Day of Service
MLK Day of Service

Barry Service Corps members and CCSI staff prepare to welcome students and other volunteers to the orientation session of the MLK Day of Service in the Landon Student Union. Pictured (from left) are Sharai Calixte, Amanda Gonzalez Garcia, Mia Hunt, and Gabriel Bouani. (Photos by Glenn Bowen)

MLK Day of Service

Smiling for the camera are (from left) Mr. Ragasten Paul, chief operating officer of Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI); Dr. Victor Romano, Barry’s vice provost for student success and undergraduate studies, with his daughter Elena; and Ms. LaTousha Daniels, MCI’s president and CEO. (Photo by Glenn Bowen)

Barry University President Dr. Mike Allen sent a message of thanks to students, faculty, and staff who would participate in the day of service. He said, “I hope the day is special for everyone, and sincere thanks to everyone involved for making it all happen.”

Each year, on the Saturday immediately preceding the federal holiday—the third Monday of January—Barry University honors the Rev. Dr. King with a day of service.

Organized by the Center for Community Service Initiatives, the annual event is designed not only to celebrate the civil rights leader’s own service and influence but also to advance Barry’s commitment to social justice and collaborative service.

State Senator Jason Pizzo Will Participate in ‘Legislative Forum’ This Wednesday Evening

Senator Jason Pizzo

Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, will participate in this Wednesday’s “Legislative Forum,” organized as part of Barry’s Campus Democracy Project (CDP).

“Here is your chance to speak with Senator Pizzo, ask your questions, and share your concerns,” Dr. Sean Foreman, the forum organizer, told a group of students, faculty, and staff last Friday.

The hour-long, online event on January 25 is scheduled to begin at 5:30. It will take place via Zoom, the meeting ID being 893 3211 6174 and the passcode 150300.

The CDP is a civic learning and democratic engagement project under the aegis of the CCSI.

For further information on the forum, contact Dr. Foreman via email at or the CCSI at

Deadline for Submission of Nominations for Community Engagement Awards Extended to February 3

Community Engagement Awards

The deadline for the submission of nominations for Barry’s 10th Annual Community Engagement Awards has been extended to February 3. Faculty, staff, and students are urged to submit nominations by the new deadline.

Nominations for the awards are being accepted in seven categories: Community Impact, Community Partnership, Community-Based Research, Community-Engaged Scholarship, Community Engagement Educator, Service-Learning Faculty, and Engaged Department.

  • The Community Impact Award is presented to individual students and student organizations for exemplary civic engagement—including service, research, and advocacy—that has a measurable impact on the community.
  • The Community Partnership Award recognizes exemplary partnerships between university and community constituencies that produce measurable improvements in people’s lives while enhancing higher education.
  • The Community-Based Research Award is presented to scholars (faculty members and/or students) who conduct rigorous research with community partners in response to community concerns, issues, or needs.
  • The Community-Engaged Scholarship Award is given to faculty members in recognition of significant scholarly work across the faculty roles of teaching, research, and service that addresses community issues.
  • The Community Engagement Educator Award honors administrators and faculty members for significant contributions to the institutionalization or enhancement of community engagement at Barry University.
  • The Service-Learning Faculty Award goes to faculty members for exemplary integration of community-based or community-focused collaborative service into the curriculum.
  • The Engaged Department Award is presented to departments for achievements in advancing the community engagement goals of the university, educating students for civic and social responsibility, and improving community life.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for March 29. Additional information and the nomination forms are available at the CCSI website.

Community Engagement Symposium: Call for Entries

See details of the Student Poster Competition at the CCSI website or contact Dr. Heather Johnson Desiral in the CCSI at

Race Talk in Florida: Bridging The Political Divide

Students Offered Civic Engagement Opportunity Through National Internship Program

Internship Opportunities

Students are being offered an opportunity to contribute to civic/democratic engagement through a national internship program. Paid, part-time internship positions for the summer are available, and interns will work virtually.

As part of its Spring/Summer 2023 National Internship program, Campus Vote Project (CVP) has positions for a national programming intern and a communications intern.

“This spring and summer, we are seeking paid, part-time interns to help us further our democratic engagement work across the country,” a CVP announcement said.

The national programming intern will plan and execute civic engagement programming that will be presented to CVP student fellows across the country. In addition, the intern will track program completion and research topics of interest for programmatic content. 

The communications intern will develop media content, including graphics and videos, for public distribution; craft emails and blog posts; update the CVP website; and help to manage a database.

Summer interns will be expected to work 30 daytime hours a week from May 30 to July 28.

A project of the Fair Elections Center, CVP works with college and university faculty, administrators, and students as well as election officials to reduce barriers to voting.

Students interested in a CVP internship should apply as soon as possible. Questions about the internship program should be directed to CVP Deputy Director Raaheela Ahmed at

Community Engagement News is a publication of the Center for Community Service Initiatives.

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