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For Pillar College, MLK, Jr. Day is a Day Out, Not a Day Off

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once prayed, “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”
Pillar College echoes those sentiments as part of its mission – to educate, inspire and equip our students, and our entire community, for excellent scholarship, leadership and service. To be true to that mission the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was not a day off for many at Pillar, but rather a day out serving community. On Monday, January 21, a group of Pillar College faculty, staff, students and alumni gathered at Franklin Middle School in Somerset, NJ to partner with Jersey Cares, a non-profit volunteer service organization that recruits and engages volunteers in rewarding, effective efforts that address community-identified needs. Together with hundreds of other volunteers from the township and local corporations, teams worked to brighten hallways with murals, add fresh coats of paint to classroom walls, and create family-friendly kits for donation to the school and local non-profit partners.

So what motivated these individuals to take the time to volunteer in community service on a “holiday” instead of shopping or sleeping in? Pillar’s approach to education at Pillar College is a holistic one, where the goal is to develop students academically, socially, professionally and spiritually. Many of the most meaningful and impactful experiences that prepare our students for leadership and service are the moments that happen outside of the classroom, where theory is translated into practice and then demonstrated in community. The leadership and faculty aspire to develop graduates who are not only aware of the needs of society, in both local and global communities, but are active participants in bringing about positive change as transformational leaders. These values are cultivated by providing opportunities for students to serve in their local communities at initiatives such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.
The team of volunteers included John Michael Velazquez, a student in Pillar’s Dual Enrollment Education Degree (DEED) Program that allows high school juniors and seniors to earn advanced college credits while completing their diploma at the same time. John, who is the oldest of three siblings and brought his entire family out to serve with him, shared that he chose to participate because “it is a way to remember those who gave so much to society. Volunteering is one of the ways that people can use their talents to give back to the community”. John also added “It was fun serving!”, and “having fun while getting things done” is an unofficial motto of the Student Engagement Department. Creating an environment and mindset that encourages friendships and fun while working in teams is an intentional part of the design of events at Pillar. Every activity and event is designed for students to work in teams to enhance the value of learning cooperation and teamwork, important skills for both personal and professional development.
Service at Pillar College is more than just a one day activity. Students have opportunities to serve local community multiple times throughout the year, whether it is creating and distributing hygiene kits to the homeless in Newark, preparing and serving meals to single mothers and their children, or growing and distributing fresh produce at neighborhood pantries.
Service at Pillar College also goes beyond student activity and extends to its faculty, staff and alumni. In fact, one of the institution’s core values is Fostering Community to Build Communities: Creating environments of grace and mercy. One of the benefits of Pillar, a commuter college, is that individuals do not have to leave their community to earn their degree. Students are encouraged to remain a vital part of their church and service organizations.
Pillar College’s DNA to prepare students for service is rooted in the life and leadership of Jesus Christ who…”did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10) 
Amy Huber
Vice President of Student Engagement
If you’d like to learn more about professions that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically based, Christ-centered education at Pillar, we’d love to introduce you to Christian perspectives at work in your future career. For more information on how Pillar College can help you pursue your ministry and educational goals, please phone us at 973-803-5000 or email [email protected].