Washington D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives added its voice to the growing call for Americans to serve on the King Holiday by passing a resolution promoting the holiday as a day of national service.
The bipartisan resolution, which passed the House unanimously last night, was introduced by Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) along with Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. David Price (R-NC).
The House action takes place as thousands of nonprofit, community, and education groups are gearing up for what is expected to be the largest King Day of Service in history, fueled by a growing desire for Americans to give back and a strong call to service by President-elect Obama.
The President-elect has made service a centerpiece of his Inauguration, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee last week unveiled a new website http://www.usaservice.org where Americans can post or find volunteer opportunities on the King Day weekend.
As of this morning, more than 8,600 projects had been listed on the website, and the number is growing by the hour. Last year, there were 5,000 projects involving more than 500,000 volunteers.
The House resolution noted the key role played by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages four million Americans in service each year through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America.
In 1994, Congress charged the Corporation with leading the national day of service on the King Holiday, and the agency is hoping to translate the enthusiasm around this year’s King Day into long-lasting commitments to service throughout the year. The Corporation is working closely with the Presidential Inaugural Committee on the website and the larger call to service.
“I urge my fellow Members of Congress and constituents to take time out of their daily lives and give back to their communities,” said Rep. Platts, Co-Chair of the House National Service Caucus. “I can not think of a more appropriate way to honor the heroic life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King than by serving my community and encouraging others to do so as well.”
“As we embark on a new era of optimism and hope for a better tomorrow, we should start our journey by not only observing change, but by honoring the legacy of Dr. King and actively creating it,” said Rep. Matsui, who serves as Co-Chair of the National Service caucus. “This year’s national day of service promises to be larger than ever before. And I look forward to a new era of service in our country"
Below is the text of the resolution:
111th CONGRESS, 1st Session
House Resolution 43, Recognizing the efforts of those who serve their communities on Martin Luther King Day and promoting the holiday as a day of national service.
Whereas the King Holiday and Service Act, a law designating Martin Luther King Day as a national day of volunteer service, was signed into law in 1994;
Whereas millions of Americans have been inspired by the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to serve their neighbors and communities every third Monday of January;
Whereas serving one's community for the betterment of every individual speaks to the high character, transformative world view, and everyday practice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
Whereas the efforts of national service volunteers have been a steadfast foundation of our Nation's infrastructure, supporting not only individuals and families in need, but acting in response to national catastrophes and natural disasters;
Whereas citizens have the opportunity to participate in thousands of already scheduled events all across the country, as well as create and implement a community service project where they identify the need;
Whereas the Corporation for National and Community Service, is working with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and thousands of other nonprofit, community, national service, and education organizations across the country to encourage Americans to serve on this holiday and throughout the year; and
Whereas leaders at the Federal, State and local level are planning to use the Martin Luther King Day and Inauguration Day to rally our Nation to commit to serve and to make an ongoing commitment to service: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) encourages all Americans to pay tribute to the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through participation in community service projects on Martin Luther King Day;
(2) recognizes the inherent value of community service and volunteerism in the creation of civil society and as a means of non-violent community progress consistent with the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
(3) recognizes the benefits of the collaborative work by the many organizations that promote, facilitate, and carry out needed service projects nationwide;
(4) encourages its members and colleagues to urge their constituents, both in congressional districts and those visiting the District of Columbia on Inauguration Day, to participate in community service projects; and
(5) acknowledges that by serving one's country, one's community and one's neighbor our Nation makes progress in civility, equality, and unity consistent with the values and life's work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.