Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Week of National Service

This past week (April 18-25) has been quite a whirlwind week for service! Service was the name of the game this week as National Volunteer Week kicked off on April 18th, and brought with it a number of service events and activities in which people across the country could participate.

Created by President Nixon in 1974, National Volunteer Week recognizes the need for our nation to come together and serve the common good. NVW is particularly significant this year as April 21, 2010, marks the one year anniversary of President Obama signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, legislation calling for an unprecedented expansion of national service. With the celebration of Earth Day in full force on April 22, the exciting week of service fittingly caps off with Global Youth Service Day on April 23-25.

One-Year Anniversary of Serve America Act
In commemoration of the one year anniversary of the Serve America Act on April 21, Patrick Corvington, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, hosted a luncheon honoring the late Senator Kennedy and announced some great news: 1.5 million more people volunteered in 2009 than in 2008. Congress also signed a resolution commemorating the anniversary.

Corvington said: “Service is the great force that unites us all as Americans. As Senator Kennedy often noted, Americans want to serve. All we have to do is ask. The Serve America Act is doing the asking. One year later, the good Senator would be pleased to know, the American people are answering yes.”

ICP’s Program Associate, Jean Manney, and Jessica Bromelkamp of Earth Force visited NPR to discuss the anniversary of the Serve America Act and the 2010 Summer of Service Program. Check the transcript and audio clip here.

Earth Day
April 22, 2010, celebrated the 40th annual Earth Day. Earth Day is the perfect way to continue the week’s spirit of service by participating in service projects to clean and green the Earth. Various environmental service projects were underway all over the country, ranging from activities like cleaning up area beaches, park preservation, and planting. Learn more about Earth Day activities in this recent ICP blog post, Healing the Earth with Service, and at the Youth Service America page.

Global Youth Service Day
After all this excitement, National Volunteer Week culminated with Global Youth Service Day on April 23-25. In its 22nd year, GYSD was celebrated in over 100 countries on six continents, calling for the world’s youth to engage and improve the communities in which they live.
Organized by Youth Service America (YSA), GYSD celebrates how young people, ages 5-25 are addressing the world’s critical issues: health, education, human service, human rights, and the environment. Over 2,346 service projects in 86 different countries were registered on the GYSD website, proving today’s youth are leading the charge on making a better world.

Here are a few of the projects for Global Youth Service Day:

  • Boston, Massachussetts: Boston Cares hosted a number of service projects for the Boston area, including sorting donations at Cradles to Crayons, and park clean up at Southwest Corridor Park and Lowell National Historical Park

  • Cleveland, Ohio: Youth had a wealth of different opportunities in the greater Cleveland area, and activities ranged from working at an urban farm to doing arts and crafts with local disabled children.

  • Helena, Montana – Nearly 2,000 youth across Montana participated in GYSD through service projects such as building fences, building recycling bins, cleaning up parks and highways, and more.

  • Jakarta, Indonesia: Students at an elementary school in Jakarta learned more about dealing with bullying through activities, games, and art work in the program Respect, Care, and Share.

  • Jiangsu, China: 50 volunteers in China worked to clean up the wetlands surrounding the Yangtze River.

How did you volunteer this week? Please share your stories in the comments below!

Image courtesy of gysd.org

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Healing the Earth with Service

As the temperature warms and the flowers bloom, allowing people to take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses, across the world people are celebrating the beauty the Earth graciously offers. Fittingly, Earth Day always falls during this spring awakening, providing a perfect opportunity for communities around the world to celebrate the Earth and environment. With over 1 billion people from around the world gathering on April 22, 2010, to commemorate Earth Day, a great way to show your appreciation and dedication to preserving the environment is through service projects.

Organizations all over the United States are arranging service projects to celebrate the 40th annual Earth Day. The Earth Day Network (EDN) has announced a Global Day of Service on April 17-18, 2010, in honor of Earth Day. The EDN arranged projects, taking place in parks, beaches, schools, and forests, focusing on climate change solutions such as tree planting, water protection, urban gardens, and more. The activities are available to people of all ages and will encourage green volunteering.

Projects include a variety of activities, ranging from gardening, to cleaning up a local park, to recycling collections. The Green Education Foundation is teaming up with the Earth Day Network for the Green Thumb Challenge, a worldwide event of youth gardening. As the largest youth gardening initiative in history, GEF is calling for schools and youth groups to plant 10,000 gardens of any size in 2010 in commemoration of Earth Day 2010.
There are also a number of organizations hosting local opportunities for service in their communities:

  • Chattanooga, TN: The Art of Recycling Contest began in February, leading up to an Earth Day Weekend celebration. Lead by the Chattanooga Department of Education and the 2009-2010 Leadership Chattanooga class, recreation centers across the city have been working on “Recycled Art” projects, made from recyclables collected at the centers. The contest entries will be displayed during Earth Day weekend.
  • Washington, D.C. – The District of Colombia lined up a number of service projects for locals. For example, participants can choose to clean up trash in the area surrounding the Potomac Watershed, or pick up litter and trash at the National Zoo, or participate in trail clean-up in Manassas, VA.
  • Denver, CO – Outward Bound and the Denver Parks and Recreation will be organizing a South Platte River Restoration, where they will work on willow thinning, transplanting, trail work, and planting.
  • California – The California State Parks Association, along with PG& E will host Earth Day Restoration and Clean-up programs throughout the state. Activities include tree planting, restoring trails and wildlife habitat, and cleaning up beaches and park lands.
    There are also Earth Day service events happening internationally:
  • Netherlands - Communities in the Netherlands are hosting events such as seed planting at local schools, and making candles out of recycled candles and more
  • Philippines – Citizens of the Philippines can gather together for a Mangrove planting to celebrate Earth Day in Dapitan City
  • GreenSkate – A number of countries, including Canada, Argentina and Chile are hosting GreenSkate events. Long-board skateboarders plan to take to the streets and skate through their cities, promoting energy and environment issues, as well as show skateboarding as an energy efficient mode of transportation.
Do you have a service project planned for Earth Day? Please share your stores in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Greenzer.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Come Hell or High Water, Neighbors Reach Out

Since the start of the New Year, the world has been experiencing quite a reckoning from Mother Nature. 2010 seems to be the year of ravaging inclement weather, from the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, to the “Snowmageddon” in Washington, DC, to the record breaking rain and flooding along the Northeast corridor.

These various storms have taken their toll on communities, shaking up livelihoods, uprooting people and families from their homes and leaving them at a loss for what to do next. Fortunately, members of these communities hit hard by Mother Nature are rallying together in the spirit of service and aiding those in need.

The early days of February 2010 brought snowstorms of epic proportions to Washington, DC. The area was pummeled by two large, consecutive storms, breaking snowfall records as the second snowiest February and the second all-time snowiest month ever, according to the National Weather Service. With 31.9 inches of snow falling in just 10 days, the city was forced to virtually shut down for almost a week. At the height of the storm, over 218,000 homes were without power, and 140,000 also had no heat, forcing many to dangerously bear the conditions and leave their homes or face being trapped for days.

In the aftermath of the two blizzards, D.C. locals grabbed their shovels and took to the streets, helping their neighbors dig out beneath the snow and get the city up and running again. Realizing that sidewalks and bus stops would be the dumping zones for snow plows, a couple of DC residents used their blog to set-up a “Shovel Brigade,” designating a place and time for people to come out and shovel local sidewalks and bus stops to improve accessibility in the their local community. Groups all over the city gathered together and shoveled these public spaces, making trekking around the city a bit more manageable and safer for all.

Local youth also used their snow days to serve their snow-buried communities, including digging out their schools so they could reopen quickly. Karen Kenna, the principal of Springfield, VA’s Cardinal Forest Elementary, called upon her students and their families to help shovel the school campus and earn community service hours. Over 50 students and their parents showed up and shoveled out parking lots and playgrounds, and occasionally participated in a snowball fight or two.

While snow wreaked havoc on the nation’s capitol in February, heavy rainfall and floods have walloped New England in late March. Boston recorded a record-breaking 12.84 inches of rain in March, a record held since 1953. This massive amount of rain caused rampant flooding as New England rivers like the Pawtuxet River crested over their banks and flooded the surrounding communities.

New England residents were forced to evacuate their homes and many major roads, including parts of Interstate 95, were shut down due to flooding. The American Red Cross is took the lead on serving and providing aid to these communities, offering shelters and information on how to deal with your home flooding. Many Red Cross members from across the country, including Illinois and San Diego were also deployed to the New England area to help in the relief efforts. Local organizations, such as the Lutheran Disaster Response Team in New England are also pulling together resources and encouraging volunteers to get involved in various activities such as making sandbags, participating in muck-outs, and assisting in warming shelters.

In many communities hit hard by big storms this year, community members have stepped up to help their neighbors and give back a little to their communities. Have you volunteered in local disaster relief efforts? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flood-Pictures.com

WInfo Blog Content Widget