Alumni Join MLK Weekend of Service

Ford Scholar Alumni Association members pitched in to help with two community service projects as part of MLK Weekend of Service 2014, honoring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I love that the FSAA tries to get Scholars out on MLK Jr. Day because it combines the ideals and values of community service promoted by Kenneth Ford with a day we set aside to honor a man who promoted the ideals and value of community and equality,” said FSAA Board Treasurer Toni Kelich from the Class of 2002 who, along with her two teenage daughters, participated in a service project.

FSAA Board Secretary Katie Keller, Class of 1997, also served. “For the MLK Weekend of Service, I spent a few hours volunteering my time in honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Keller worked on the Friends of Errol Heights Restoration Planting project for three hours on Saturday morning, Jan. 18. “With other dedicated volunteers on a 30-degree morning, I dug holes and planted native snowberry plants in a park in Southeast Portland,” she explained. “Despite numb fingers and toes, it felt good to be contributing my time and effort for something productive and positive for my community.”

Events Committee Chairman Rob Teel, Class of 1998, set up the FSAA volunteer opportunity through Hands On Greater Portland and invited local FSAA alumni to participate. Teel and his wife, Mindy, and their 2-year-old daughter, Willa, pitched in.

“My family had a great time volunteering,” Teel said. “The event was well attended and organized because Hands On Greater Portland does an excellent job of making the volunteering process readily accessible and simple.”

Teel also worked with Hands On Greater Portland to invite FSAA members to attend Lifting Communities as We Climb: A Day of Service Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday afternoon, Jan. 20 in Portland.

FSAA Board Member at Large Leana Dickerson, Class of 2004, and Kelich attended the event and met up with Class of 2005 Alumna Kirsten Yamada.

Yamada had asked the FSAA how she could get more involved with alumni events.  She signed up for the MLK Day event, which began with presentations from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and other prominent community leaders and ended with a hands-on project.

Yamada, Dickerson and Kelich helped create personal care boxes for Alder Elementary School’s underserved children and disconnected homeless youth that included dental, hygiene and school supplies along with a handmade greeting card.

Kelich volunteered because giving back to the community is very important to her. “It is something I don’t do as often as I’d like, given my crazy day-to-day schedule,” she said. “I also involve my daughters in service to the community because I want to instill in them the value and understanding of how important giving back to our community really is.”

Yamada said, “The reason I wanted to get involved was to connect with other Ford Alumni in the Portland area while doing something good to help others in need in the community. It only took a few hours of my day but it felt great to reconnect. I look forward to more FSAA volunteer events and the opportunity to network with more alumni.”

Teel encourages other Portland-area FSAA members to visit or to e-mail him at with questions concerning participating in upcoming volunteering opportunities.