Weeks ago, the Obama Inaugural campaign began using the extensive email and telephone list that propelled a candidate to the White House, to push for more volunteers on Martin Luther King Day to bolster a national day of community service. Millions of volunteers were contacted personally and asked if they would organize a service project in their neighborhood.
While presidents since 1994 have used Jan. 19 as a symbol of citizen involvement after Congress transformed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into a national day of community service, Mr. Obama is using the eve of his inauguration to rally millions of Americans to ongoing community service as an effective strategy to help the country in a time of recession.
If you are not already involved, you can search the new national registry of projects online at www.usaservice.org, for service projects in your neighborhood. The new site incorporates the work already begun by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency overseeing 7,000 service programs – including AmeriCorps.
The new website is designed to help promote these events, gather commitments, build communities, and share results. You can even narrow your search to a topic that interests you, such as health or the environment. Alongside events that engage people directly, are others which are planning meetings for future service.
Within 50 miles of Arlington, VA, for instance, were more than 100 opportunities for service, helping veterans, cleaning up streams, or helping with blood drives or book drives. In California, there are almost 800 King Day community projects listed at the government website, www.mlkday.gov.
Barack Obama and his family, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia, will be 4 of the ordinary citizens volunteering in their new community of Washington, D.C.
“President-elect Obama hopes to summon a new spirit of service and call on Americans to make a more enduring and active commitment to our communities throughout the year, because it is a critical time for America to come together to tackle the common challenges we face,” said inaugural spokeswoman Shannon Gilson.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will officially start the enormous job of leading our country. As president, he plans to expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and even create new ones.
In the video below, Gen. Colin Powell, formerly the head of America’s Promise, a campaign to engage citizens and corporations in service, announces the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s ‘Renew America Together’ initiative and urges Americans to use their day-off, the Monday MLK holiday as a day of service, but also to continue volunteering throughout the year.