On September 11, 2009, I was honored and privileged to commemorate the heroism of those who lost their lives during the terror attacks by engaging in service and volunteerism as part of the first officially recognized September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
In joining President Obama, the First Lady, and the thousands of volunteers across the country who participated on this historic day, I was inspired to continue my mission to empower through service. I was thrilled to learn that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled from the White House across the Anacostia River to my disadvantaged DC Ward 7 community.
Just a few blocks from Lincoln Heights, one of the largest public housing developments in Washington, D.C., the President and First Lady joined AmeriCorps members and volunteers in painting a Habitat for Humanity home. I felt an indescribable energy just knowing that the President of the United States of America was a few blocks away from my home working to improve my community.
As for myself, I commemorated the day by serving with the students of the DC Scores Program at the Arts and Technology Academy (ATA). Just as I was gaining momentum to serve, these students were the fuel to my fire. I partnered with various organizations to improve the conditions of the school through outdoor beautification such as reconstruction and painting. Most importantly however, I motivated today's youth and tomorrow's future through words of encouragement, support and by leading by example.
I spoke with some of the youth about their experience and asked them "What does community service mean to you?" One responded by saying "Community service means making your area better". I asked another student, "How does it make you feel when you do community service?" She said, "It makes me feel very very very good, because I'm helping!"
DC SCORES inspires youth to lead healthy lifestyles, be engaged students and become agents of change in their communities. This after-school youth development program combines soccer, creative writing, and service-learning for 700 students in 23 elementary and middle schools in the District.
The visions of smoke rising from the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001 are visions I will never forget. The faces of the youth and the memories created on September 11, 2009 captured the essence of my experience participating in the first September 11 National Service and Remembrance Day. The pictures will serve as a reminder of the strength that I posses and my ability to strengthen others.