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

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