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United We Serve

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Today kicks of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service – more than 5,000 (!) service leaders are pouring into New York City to create greater impact and effectiveness in meeting social needs through service and volunteering.

With the President announcing today nominees for the Board of Directors for the Corporation for National and Community Service, I am reminded just how important a role service plays in communities here at home and across the globe. The addition of these outstanding members will help continue the proud history of CNCS and continue to promote service as a way that Americans join together in communities large and small to solve the problems all of us face.

All across America children are excitedly counting down the days to summer vacation; summer is a time each year when children and families can relax, play, and explore their creative interests together. We are, however, keenly aware that summer is also the time when the healthy habits and knowledge that our children developed during the school year are most likely to stall.

Every day, in communities across America, promising non-profit organizations direct heroic efforts to implement innovative, effective solutions to our nation’s most daunting social challenges.Tackling a wide variety of issues, from poverty to failing schools, non-profits are at the forefront of what I call the “solutions business.” The impact of their good work is only hampered by a lack of resources and insufficient capacity to gauge their programs’ impact, improve on them, and grow them to serve more people in more communities.

Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s spring graduation ceremonies. Representing the Obama Administration, Patrick spoke about service as an option for the class of 2010.

What happens when you put together 20 tons of lumber, dozens of AmeriCorps members and about 2,000 volunteers working for 24 hours straight? Five hundred Kentucky kids get brand new beds of their own, complete with sheets, blankets, pillows, nightlights, cuddly toys and books for all the all-important bedtime reading.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week and the one year anniversary of the Serve America Act, I urge you to take a moment to remember two of America’s greatest civil rights and service leaders who recently passed away – Dorothy Height and Benjamin Hooks.

One year ago today, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and with it ushered in the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation. The legislation’s remarkably swift bipartisan journey though Congress reflected a national consensus that service is a powerful response to the economic and social challenges facing America today.

As the National Day of Service and Remembrance came to a close, Sprite renewed the urgent call for volunteerism across America by launching the Sprite Step Off Service Challenge on the Mall of Washington on September 12. As part of the Sprite Step Off, the largest college Greek competition ever, the Service Challenge presents an opportunity for young people to refresh their communities through volunteerism.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" Across the country, Americans will answer that question by making the January 18, 2010 King Holiday a national day of service. We here at the Corporation for National and Community Service are asking individuals in the tech community to think about how you can help serve others on the King holiday and throughout the year. What can technologists do to help others on the King Holiday? There is a spectrum of involvement - from organizing a large-scale hackathon, to utilizing the King Holiday to build a blog for charity - everyone fits in according to whatever you can give.

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