Washington DC – The USAService.org website launched today by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to encourage Americans to serve on the King Holiday and throughout the year is featuring a series of guest bloggers between now and January 19.
Below is a post by Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. To read other posts and find a volunteer opportunity on King Day, visit http://www.usaservice.org.
Serving on King Day and Beyond
Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
Dr. King understood that each and every one of us has something to contribute to making America a better nation – and that all of us should try. That idea is the guiding force behind everything we do at the Corporation for National and Community Service – and is why we are excited that President-elect Obama is using the occasion of his Inaugural to ask every American to serve on the King holiday and throughout the year.
In 1994, Congress charged our federal agency with transforming the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday federal holiday into a national day of service. Every year since, participation has grown, as Americans make the holiday “a day on” in service to others and not just a day off work or school. To carry out this charge, we work closely with the King Center and thousands of nonprofit, education, corporate, and community groups.
About a year ago, when we began planning for the 2009 King Day of Service, we recognized that a coincidence of the calendar offered a historic opportunity to call Americans to serve. The January 19 King Holiday, honoring what would have been Dr. King’s 80th birthday, comes one day before the Inauguration of the 44th President. We are thrilled that President-elect Obama is making service a centerpiece of his Inauguration and will use this historic moment to make a broad call to service. His service on King Day continues a tradition started by President Clinton and President Bush and will shine a national spotlight on the importance of serving others.
Forty years after his Dr. King’s life was tragically cut short, we've seen extraordinary progress towards his dream – but we still have much work to do. Today, 37 million Americans live in poverty, half of the students in our 50 biggest cities don't graduate high school, 15 million young people don’t have a caring adult in their lives, and these challenges are getting worse because of the economic crisis. Service – beginning on the King Holiday and continuing throughout the year -- is a powerful and effective way to tackle these problems and bring us closer to Dr. King’s dream.
We need you to mentor a child, to be a companion to a frail senior, to help a disabled veteran find a job. On King Day and beyond, communities across America need you — your skills, your experience and your caring — to make a meaningful and urgently needed difference in people's lives.
As you think about your next step, please visit us at http://www.nationalservice.gov to learn more about our national service programs – AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America – and how you can make an intensive commitment to service throughout the year.
In his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King said, “We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.” We hope millions of Americans will renew America together through service on the King Holiday and throughout the year.