9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance Caps Successful Summer of United We Serve
(Washington, D.C.) – President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined AmeriCorps members and volunteers in painting a Habitat for Humanity home in Washington DC this afternoon, joining Americans across the country who marked the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by participating in service and remembrance activities.
From assembling care packages for the troops in Boston and refurbishing a high school in Chicago to honoring firefighters in Alabama and collecting donations for an Anchorage food bank, volunteers across the U.S. took part in the first officially recognized September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“On a day when others sought to sap our confidence, let us renew our common purpose. Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love, said President Obama at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial. “On this first National Day of Service and Remembrance, we can summon once more that ordinary goodness of America -- to serve our communities, to strengthen our country, and to better our world.”
Service projects took place in all fifty states, in major urban areas and small towns. In Seattle, more than 9,000 volunteers were expected to serve through dozens of United Way projects across the city. In Woonsocket, South Dakota – population 800 – students at the elementary school collected $450 in spare change to donate to the local fire department.
“The strong turnout today shows this is an idea that resonates and has potential to grow in the future,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, who painted homes in New York City today. “Thanks to the hard work of groups across the nation, this day has generated important work, mobilized new volunteers, and reminded us of the remarkable spirit of unity and compassion that swept across the nation after 9/11 that we want to rekindle to meet the challenges we face today.”
Goren noted that September 11 also marks the marks the end of the summer phase of President Obama's United We Serve initiative and its transition to a long-term, sustained effort. The President and First Lady launched United We Serve in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service as a nationwide initiative to create a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to meet community needs and make service a way of life for all Americans.
Since the launch of United We Serve in June, Americans have responded enthusiastically to the President's call to service by replenishing food banks, preventing summer reading loss, supporting veterans and military families, and meeting other needs.
One key tool United We Serve has used to encourage volunteer service is the Serve.gov website, which includes an open-source application developed by All for Good that allows people to find and share any of nearly 250,000 searchable volunteer opportunities in communities across the country
As one example, the American Red Cross alone posted more than 3,000 volunteer opportunities on Serve.gov, and 90 percent of respondents had never volunteered for the organization before. About 70 percent sought on-going assignments of a month or more. "I truly appreciate the opportunities the national service initiative provided," said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. "United We Serve has allowed us to draw attention to the Red Cross mission and to attract new volunteers, particularly young people."
Other accomplishments of United We Serve include:
- Engaging nearly 400 national partners and thousands of local nonprofit and faith-based groups.
- Groups have posted more than 250,000 volunteer opportunities on Serve.gov, including more than 2,200 individuals have posted their own self-directed service projects.
- Collaborating with sports stars and celebrities to promote volunteer service through public service announcements and community service events including Country Music Television, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, MTV, Music Matters, NASCAR, the National Hockey League, the National Football League Players Association, the National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers' Association, and the Women's National Basketball Association.
- Working with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to mobilize the entertainment community around a multi-year I PARTICIPATE campaign. Its 2009 centerpiece is a week-long television event running from October 19th to the 25th, when TV shows on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC and other broadcast networks will spotlight service through programming and PSAs with storylines about volunteerism.
- New partnerships between organizations with common goals have been spurred by United We Serve. As a result, more resources are being leveraged to meet pressing community needs. For example, three of America's largest education-based nonprofit organizations – Reading Is Fundamental, National PTA, and Communities in Schools – teamed up this summer to provide 2,500 children in New Orleans with new books and backpacks.
Later this month, the Corporation will launch Servir.gov, the Spanish language version of www.Serve.gov, to carry President Obama's call to service to millions of Spanish-speakers.