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MLK Day of Service
January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

MLK Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. was deeply committed to serving others and helping foster a more just society. Every year, thousands of people across the United States come together to honor Dr. King through service projects and commemoration events. Virginia Western Community College is honored to celebrate his work and teachings by making MLK Day a day on rather than just a day off. Virginia Western proudly launches its first annual MLK Day of Service, intended to empower individuals and strengthen communities in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

The work of Dr. King remains unfinished, and the college has committed to thoughtfully considering what his vision means today. On Monday, January 18, 2021, Virginia Western Community College will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although the campus will be closed, faculty, staff, students, and presenters are honoring Dr. King’s legacy by volunteering time to serve community and reflect on what Dr. King's dream means today with our first annual MLK Day of Service.

We ask the community to join us, as we open our virtual events to all who are interested in learning, growing, and coming together in the true spirit of the day.

MLK Day Schedule of Virtual Events - January 18th   

Dr. Judith R. James is a native of Oakland, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she earned a bachelors degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology at Mills College; a master's degree in Education Administration at Holy Names University and the doctorate in Organization and Leadership in Higher Education Administration at the University of San Francisco.  She currently resides in Culpeper, Virginia.
Professionally, Dr. James has acquired an extensive background in organization and leadership in higher education administration, community engagement, and workforce development based on progressively responsible positions at the national and state levels, and on college and university campuses. 

Recently, she completed a three-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees at Mills College in Oakland, California and as a member of the Board of Beacon for Adult Literacy (under the auspices of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia) in Manassas, Virginia.  Currently, Dr. James is a member of the Founder's Society at Mills College and the co-Chair of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Coming to the Table (  As a result of her involvement with Coming to the Table, a community based organization focused on healing racial wounds, she has established membership with the Warren-Page County and Winchester Frederick/Clarke County branches of the NAACP in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Opening Commemoration with Keynote Speaker
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Please join us for welcome remarks from Dr. Robert Sandel, President of Virginia Western Community College followed by a commemoration from our inspirational keynote speaker, Dr. Judith R. James. Her message as a non-racist peace activist comes at a time when communities must come together and embrace the powerful teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. James is committed to serving and forging partnerships between and among organizations focused on healing racial hatred and discrimination by bringing all to the table of love, forgiveness, compassion, transformation, and reconciliation.

Register now!
Zoom Registration Link:

Civil Rights: The Story of Change and Persistence
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Mr. David Baylor presents an introspective examination of the civil rights timeline that tells a compelling story of the persistence required to spark change. Gain a more insightful perspective for the struggles and triumphs of Dr. King, the vital predecessors who ignited the flames of equity and inclusion, and those who continue to carry the torch.

Guest Presenter: David Baylor,  Adjunct Professor of History, Virginia Western Community College; Middle School Coordinator, Roanoke City Schools

Register now!
Zoom Registration Link:

The Building Blocks of Financial Empowerment, Part 1
11:00 AM - Noon

Financial experts will help empower your decision making and increase your financial confidence. Learn how to set financial goals and take action to make your money work for you. Gain an understanding of the basics of creating a budget and spending plan to reduce spending and increase your savings.

Guest Presenters:
Bill Jones, Loan Compliance & CRA Consultant, American National Bank & Trust Company
Brandon Meginley, Financial Stability Specialist, City of Roanoke, Department of Economic Development

Register now!
Zoom Registration Link:

Campus and Community Book Read and Discussion
12 Noon - 1:00 PM

Join us for an introduction of the book selected to kick off campus- and community-wide book read and discussion that will take place during Black History Month. Learn more about participating in VWCC’s book read discussion and gain tips to keeping impactful conversations going by hosting book reads throughout the year.

VWCC Discussion Facilitators: Natasha Lee, Student Activities Coordinator; Wil Preston, Course Coordinator; Alexander Scott, Faculty

Register now!
Zoom Registration Link:

The Building Blocks of Financial Empowerment, Part 2
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Financial experts will help empower your decision making and increase your financial confidence. Learn how to set S.M.A.R.T. financial goals. Discover the importance of banking. Learn a few of the basics of credit, credit reports and credit scores.

Guest Presenters:
Damon Williams, AVP | Regional CRA Officer, First Citizens Bank
Brandon Meginley, Financial Stability Specialist, City of Roanoke, Department of Economic Development

Register now!
Zoom Registration Link:

One-on-One Virtual Drop-In Sessions (College Planning, Career Advising, College Affordability, Resume Assistance) - January 18th   

VWCC Serves - 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve." – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We are here to serve you! Take advantage of this opportunity to get the answers and guidance you need to take the next step towards career and academic success. Virginia Western faculty and staff will be readily available to meet with you to provide assistance with college planning, career advising, college affordability, and even resume assistance. Virtual appointments are on the Zoom platform, so please ensure your computer has audio and microphone. Webcam is optional but preferred.

Follow the link below to register, select your 30 minute virtual slot, and share what assistance you need, so we can ensure you meet with the right staff member.

Register in advance to ensure your slot:

Virtual Service Activities for Students - January 18th-23rd   

Random Acts of Kindness

Virginia Western students are encouraged to take part in the college's first MLK Day of Service by finding ways to serve the community, spread peace and unity, and show gratitude and compassion to humankind.

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the week of January 18th through the 23rd, students will have the opportunity to take part in a campus-wide mission to extend kindness to those who are in need of support and reminders that someone cares.

Students can write and send letters or messages for seniors in nursing facilities and/or for current military or veterans. Thanks to partnering organizations, your letters will be received by people who truly need uplifting during these times.

Messages for Senior Citizens

This time of year can be especially lonely for those in residence communities – health and safety restrictions are making it even harder this year as our seniors are unable to visit with their children, grandchildren and loved ones.  Share a bit of cheer and a warm wish by writing a note or letter to a senior and emailing it to You will be sure to brighten a winter's day with a smile.

Emails will be printed and mailed for distribution at residences of Virginia Western partners Commonwealth Care, Richfield Living, and Friendship Living.

Tips for writing letters to senior citizens:

  • Make your message positive as one you would like to receive.
  • Start with "Hi There" or "Dear Friend." Even if you do not know your reader by name, starting with "Dear Friend" will make them feel special and cared for.
  • Introduce yourself by first name. Let your reader know who you are and why you are writing.
  • Avoid religion and politics. Your letter should resonate with anyone.
  • Exclude the date (day, month, and year).
  • Embrace creativity! Recipients love it when the letters are personal. We encourage you to make your letters fun!
  • Be kind & thoughtful. This is a one-way letter exchange, so you will not receive a letter back. Receiving nothing in return is part of the beauty of your act of kindness, and recipients are not burdened by feeling obligated or unable to respond.
  • Writer's block? Tell a story that brings a smile to someone's face, offer words of encouragement, or share fun current events.
Messages for Military

Send a special message or say thank you to Veterans who have served our country, active-duty servicemen and women deployed all over the world. Write a message of appreciation, gratitude, positivity, or encouragement. Being deployed and separated from family is tough on our servicemembers. Times are also tough for veterans who may not know how much they are appreciated. Genuine correspondence from other people helps. It makes them feel connected, even if they are thousands of miles away.

You can show your support of a military servicemember or veteran in one of two simple ways. Feel free to write a traditional letter, sign, scan, and send it as an email attachment. Or, simply write your letter as an email, type your signature, or affix your digital signature. Either way, please email your letter to Students on campus for classes may also drop letters off at the Hall Associates Career Center, located on the second floor of the Maury & Sheila Strauss Family Student Life Center.

We will print your attached letter or email, and ensure all letters are sent to active and veteran military personnel.

Tips for writing letters to the military

  • Address letters to the following:
    • "Dear Deployed Troop", "Dear Veteran", "Dear Wounded Hero"
  • Express your thanks for their selfless service to our country.
  • Keep messages positive.
    • Suggested topics include expressing gratitude for their service, sharing hopeful messages, well wishes, and positive thoughts.
    • Prayers are welcome, however please avoid excessive religious comments.
    • Share about yourself, family, hobbies, work, school, pets, travel, interests, etc.
    • Abstain from writing about violence, killing, illness, injury, death, and dying, etc.
    • Avoid all mention of politics.
  • Refrain from including contact or distinguishing information for anyone under the age of 18.
    • This includes last name, home or email address, phone numbers, school information, social media usernames and phone numbers.
  • Be mindful that all letters will go through a screening process.

If you have any questions, please contact Shonny Cooke at

Thank you for volunteering!

Contact Us

Phone: 540-857-VWCC (8922)
24/7 Student Support Center - 855-874-6690

3094 Colonial Ave., SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

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