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Event organizers dedicate time, energy to effort

January 14, 2009

Psychology junior Brigid Sweeney is a co-chair of Into the Streets, a community organization that is holding a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event will bring together 300-400 student volunteers to work at about 25 different 25 sites around the area doing everything from reading to children and visiting the to snow removal and interior painting. Students should use their resources to give back to their communities and people in need, which I think is almost what he (Martin Luther King Jr.) was trying to do, Sweeney said about the organization and the event. You should spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day not just relaxing but giving back to the community, she said about the holiday.

Photo by Angeli Wright | The State News

Profile: Brigid Sweeney

The spirit of service will bring hundreds of students together this Martin Luther King Jr. Day to work in the community.

“When I was younger, my parents were always involved,” said Brigid Sweeney, a psychology junior and co-chairwoman of the community service organization Into the Streets. “Always helping out people who needed help — it’s kind of just in my blood.”

On Monday, Sweeney will work with other volunteers to provide services for local centers that need extra help, such as the American Red Cross.

Sweeney became involved with Into the Streets when she was a freshman. The organization helps students get involved by volunteering throughout the Lansing area.

Into the Streets is more than just a volunteer experience, Sweeney said. Its goals include raising students’ awareness of social issues and developing leadership qualities.

Service done by Into the Streets doesn’t solely focus on King. Volunteers may be painting peeling signs or working in greenhouses, but it is all in the name of King, Sweeney said.

Motivated by her passion to give back to the community and help others, Sweeney has worked on many volunteer projects, including fixing up houses and helping children.

“I can’t just sit around and not do anything,” Sweeney said. “It’s just a passion for me to do things for others.”

Sweeney hopes in light of the current economic plight, volunteers will realize how much their time matters to those who are less fortunate.

“I think people definitely know that others are in need,” she said.

Putting in more than 15 hours a week organizing Into the Streets can be difficult, she said. Her commitment to service motivates her to keep reaching out.

“Sometimes you wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh god, I have to do this today,’ but it’s what I like doing,” she said. “I’d rather be doing it than not doing it.”

Into the Streets organizes many other volunteer events throughout the year. Students interested in getting involved can visit streets.msu.edu and sign up, or e-mail streets@msu.edu.

Profile: Robert Easterly

Helping students plan the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Conference is only part of Robert Easterly’s job.

“This is an opportunity for people of different walks of life to share ideals of MLK-like leadership and inclusion,” Easterly said.

Easterly is the outreach coordinator for the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

This is his first year at MSU, but Easterly is not new to conference- planning. Prior to MSU, Easterly worked in student affairs at Washington State University. There, he also helped advise students in conference planning.

On campus, he also supports and mentors students who plan the conference. Through his work, Easterly said he hopes to make students stronger and more confident leaders around campus.

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“In our time and our space, our national scene today, there’s an importance in continuing the fight for social justice,” he said.

Major motivators for Easterly are his commitment to civil rights and social justice, student leadership and cultural diversity. These also are the principles of the student conference itself.

Bringing people together who might not usually cross paths is important, Easterly said.

“This is a great opportunity for students who would not come together in other spaces on campus,” he said.

Easterly hopes the recent election and upcoming inauguration will give the conference extra spark, describing this as “an exciting time and historic moment.”

Easterly expects the election will inspire others to get involved.

“I love MSU,” he said. “I think this office is a leading, key player in the area of diversity for the university.”

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