Washington D.C. – At a packed news conference here today, General Colin Powell, USA (Ret) and the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced President-elect Obama’s plans to call on Americans to serve their communities on the King Holiday and throughout the year.
As part of his “Renew America Together” initiative, the President-elect wants to ignite the spirit of service in our nation by asking all Americans to make a lasting pledge to serve their communities.
“At this moment of great purpose and great promise, President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to serve their communities and their country,” said Powell. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday is not only a day off but also for the last 14 years, it has been a day on. It’s a day to reach out to our fellow citizens in need.”
Powell unveiled http://www.usaservice.org, a new website created by the Presidential Inaugural Committee where Americans can find volunteer opportunities for the January 19 King Holiday or sign up to host a local event. Nearly 5,000 events are already listed on the website.
Powell commended the many organizations that are planning King Day of Service projects, including the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency charged by Congress in 1994 with transforming the King Holiday into a national day of service. The Corporation has been working closely with the Presidential Inaugural Committee for the past month on the website and larger effort to call Americans to service.
For the past fourteen years, the Corporation has worked with the King Center in Atlanta and nonprofit, education, corporate, and community groups across the country to organize projects on the King holiday. The agency encourages its large network of AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America programs to lead or participate in King Day of Service projects.
Powell was joined at the event by Roxanna Garcia Marcus, a former AmeriCorps member with City Year who shared her personal journey of service. Marcus is one of tens of thousands of AmeriCorps members and alums who are taking part in this year’s King Day of Service.
“If there is one common experience I wish for every American, it’s to know the power of service – to have the opportunity to be a part of something larger than yourself and make a positive impact on your community. AmeriCorps gave me my opportunity.”
A Florida native, Marcus first came to the Washington D.C. area when she served for two years as an AmeriCorps member with City Year. A first-generation American, Roxanna said she was drawn to the opportunity to give back to her community and country in a meaningful and lasting way. Marcus currently serves as the Development Manager for Year Up, an intensive training program that provides urban young adults with technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend and corporate apprenticeship. Marcus cites her AmeriCorps experience at City Year with changing her career focus to the nonprofit sector.
“In this time of great need, we need to reignite our nation’s spirit of service, starting on King Day and lasting throughout the year,” said Nicola Goren, the Corporation’s Acting CEO. “We salute President-elect Obama, Colin Powell, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee for making service a centerpiece of the Inauguration and launching this broad call to service.
In addition to asking Americans to serve, President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, and their families will participate in service on the holiday in the Washington D.C. area. The President-elect’s service on the holiday continues a tradition started by President Clinton and continued by President Bush.
A wide variety of projects are being planned for the King Holiday including delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, removing graffiti, reading to children and more. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round civic action, such as signing up mentors or tutors or youth taking pledges of nonviolence.