The Origins: Johnson University K-Day
Knoxville– Johnson University students take the Christian calling to the next level imbedding it into their mission statement and living it out with a day dedicated to serving the Knoxville community.
David Legg, dean of students, said the idea of a campus wide service day was discussed between himself and Dr. Richard Beam, former Vice President of Academics, a few years before the service day was put into effect. Legg said no action was taken on the topic at that time. Later, the Student Government Association approached them about starting a day dedicated to service.
This day is commonly referred to as “K-Day,” or “K-18,” the last two digits representing the year of service.
Every year, SGA plans a day off from classes so students can go out into the surrounding communities to serve. This year, K-Day had an impact on the cities of Knoxville, Maryville, Alcoa, Sevierville, and Seymour. This annual event started on Sept. 9, 2009.
SGA published fliers this year that referred to the service day as a day of remembrance for the lives lost during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
According to Legg, this day of service was originally intended for students to be able to serve the greater Knoxville community as a school body.
“It [K-Day] gives our students an opportunity to live out who we say we are, as a community,” Legg said.
SGA Representatives on K-Day
While K-18 is only a one-day event for many students on campus, for SGA it is an event that has been in the making for months.
“Today we get to step back and see all the hard work that has been put in over the year,” Ashton Lowery, student body president, said.
The SGA Spiritual Life Committee, headed up by Carli Long, dedicated hours to gather the needs of the Knoxville community and plan for the upcoming service day.
Lowery said that getting students out in the community to serve has always been a challenge. However, when students get started on the day, they immensely enjoy it and want to engage in service more often.
“It’s an adrenaline high of a day of serving,” Lowery said.
Lowery’s first year as student body president has impacted how she participates in K-18. “It’s a learning experience to step back and not do everything myself,” Lowery said “It’s a humbling experience.”
Members of SGA were scattered among the different sites, participating as team leaders.
Beth Snowden, a member of the Spiritual Life Committee, helped lead a group serving at a local ministry, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry. Snowden said she had never volunteered at KARM before, but remembered hearing that “they do great ministry downtown.”
Snowden’s group was mainly working on renovating the third floor of the KARM building into a living area called ‘The Berea House.’ Snowden said the house will be a place homeless men can live while also attending classes, work, and participate in community service.
As her team sanded walls, cleaned, painted, replaced ceiling tiles, and polished doors and baseboards, Snowden said, “I like knowing these small things will go towards helping better the life of someone.”
Snowden said the impact of K-18 on students is important.
“It’s great to so manual labor, it helps us gain a servants’ heart,” she said.
Kayla Senor, unofficial vice president of the sophomore class, spent the service day leading a group at the Young Women’s Christian Association in East Knoxville.
The ministry has a focus on social justice issues. One aspect of this ministry includes empowering children, helping them with reading and writing skills.
Senor’s group had the opportunity to paint encouraging murals on the bathroom doors and organize supplies, all in hopes to help facilitate a better learning environment for the children.
“I’m really excited to be here because I love social justice and empowering kids,” Senor said. “One of my passions is helping kids to read. It’s really cool that I ended up in a place that fits my passion so well.”
The Student Perspective
JU’s athletic teams were slated to work for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation for their day of service. Each sports team was supposed to be stationed at sites building ramps, along with other household improvements for those in the community who cannot afford to do it themselves.
Due to the significant amount of rain the past few days, KLF decided that the work could not be completed Thursday. Athletic Director Brandon Perry said the athletes will be working on these projects in the upcoming weekends.
For now, the athletes had the opportunity to work at the university, cleaning up the campus grounds.
Some of the athletes and Perry said that they were disappointed the sites were canceled, but are looking forward to helping these people later in the semester.
“I’m kind of disappointed,” Kenyon Helmuth, a member of the class of 2020, said. “I felt it was a great opportunity for the teams to get together and be unified.”
Some of the JU athletic representatives said that K-Day is a great way for the teams and the school to give back to the community and live out the Christian lifestyle.
“To me, K-Day is about giving back to our community,” Perry said.
Some students said they enjoy the opportunity to minister outside of campus, in the local area.
“JU has a K-Day so students have an opportunity to give back to the community, so that we can serve and show God’s love,” Luci Evans, a member of the class of 2022, said.
Students hope K-Day is impactful