National Service Blog
Posted on May 20, 2016
Earlier this week I traveled to Joplin, Missouri, for a trip I will never forget. The Joplin story is one of a community that never gave up, that demonstrated steely resolve in the face of tragedy, and that is coming back stronger and better than before. It is also the story of volunteers – 130,000 strong and counting – whose selfless service has lifted up an entire community when it needed it most.
For many residents, the one year anniversary was a painful reminder of the devastating EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, killing 161 people, destroying 7,500 homes and buildings, and leaving a trail of destruction through the heart of the city.
But even more so, the anniversary was a symbol of hope, pride, optimism, and unity. The people of Joplin did not let themselves be defined by what happened on May 22, 2011. Instead they defined themselves by what happened after - their extraordinary resilience and desire to rebuild.
As President Obama told the graduating seniors at Joplin High School, “Here in Joplin, you’ve also learned that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our own lives, not by what happens to us, but by how we respond. We can choose to carry on, to make a difference in the world.”
Posted on Jul 14, 2009
First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off United We Serve by joining forces with California’s First Lady Maria Shriver, CaliforniaVolunteers, KaBOOM! and community volunteers to build a playground at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco.
Posted on Jul 14, 2009
To kick off United We Serve, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan joined the St. Bernard Project and other local New Orleans organizations to rebuild two homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The Secretary volunteered alongside his wife and two sons, helping to finish sheetrock installation, float drywall and plant a garden.
Posted on Jul 13, 2009
In 85 years of life, one would expect to have many fond memories to reflect upon. But nothing was as joyful as the day New Jersey resident Eugenia Kawczak reunited with her beloved and missing siblings with the help of the Red Cross. Passing time before her sister’s plane lands in the Ukraine, Melania Babenko turns the fragile pages of a pre-war photograph album as her brother Arkadiy looks on. Forcedly separated during World War II, Melania has not seen her sister Eugenia Kawczak, who now lives in New Jersey, in more than 66 years.