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As 2010 comes to an end I am pleased at all we have accomplished within Indian Country but much more needs to be done. I’m extremely proud to be Native American and I’m honored to serve as the Strategic Advisor for Native American Affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

What do Thanksgiving, fried turkey and biodiesel have in common? Six weeks ago, the NCCC Delta 8 “Green Team” began serving with a nonprofit in New Orleans on an energy conservation project to develop a sustainable plan and solicit restaurants to donate used cooking oil for biodiesel fuel production.

As someone who came to this country as a teenager, and worked long hours to create a better life for myself and my family, I know America’s greatness flows not just from its laws and leaders, but from the extraordinary acts of everyday citizens.

The Corporation for National and Community Service along with partners My Good Deed .Org, The Hands On Network and The 9/11 Memorial will lead the observance of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. As part of the United We Serve initiative, we hope to engage Americans across the nation in committing themselves to serve by engaging in a service project or getting involved in a cause as a way to pay tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11. This is also an excellent way to rekindle the remarkable spirit of unity and compassion that arose following the attacks.

This April, the Central Park Recreation Center in Atlanta was uninhabited and in disarray. Light fixtures were hanging from the ceiling, the Center had a stale smell, and brown water trickled from the faucets. Now, thanks to a partnership between Operation REACH's Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps and the City of Atlanta, the Center has reopened its doors to the community. Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps (GYAC) AmeriCorps Members began their summer of service preparing for the six week intensive youth leadership and service learning summer camp they staff.

Having the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints here at the White House this morning, there was a sense of hope and almost lightheartedness – nobody forgot that Louisiana is still in the midst of yet another tragedy, but it was reminder that New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast has seen the worst before and come out fighting.

CNCS CEO Patrick Corvington joined more than 2,100 college students in Chicago who gathered this past weekend to help bring change to the city’s Englewood neighborhood. The student volunteers were in Chicago for the 2010 International Campus Ministry Conference hosted by the International Churches of Christ. They met with fellow leaders, attended conferences classes and joined with HOPE worldwide in a Day of Service.

Today, President Barack Obama and Patrick Corvington will announce the recipients of the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal – and you can watch it live from the White House website.

Every day, nonprofit organizations are banding together to strengthen their communities through innovative ideas – and they are producing remarkable results. We need to support and grow these efforts. Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is excited to announce its first-ever Social Innovation Fund (SIF) awards designed to support community-driven efforts to improve the economic, health and education prospects of low-income families.

On September 11th, 2001 I was sitting in my 9:00 am class when the president of my college suddenly opened the classroom door to inform us that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and a third had crashed into the Pentagon. It was my third week of college, and I had just completed ten months of service with AmeriCorps NCCC, based out of the Pacific Region campus.

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