Posts Tagged ‘United We Serve’

Whatcha Doin’ Tomorrow? National Day of Service

mlk2005_nolineTomorrow, Saturday, January 19, is our National Day of Service. every year it coincides with Martin Luther King Weekend, when people have an extra day off, so they can perhaps put a little focus outside themselves. There are events in every state, and probably most cities, so it should be easy to find a volunteer possibility somewhere near you. Whether you serve at a soup kitchen, clean up a park, help organize an upcoming fundraiser, rehabilitate a playground, plant a tree, walk shelter dogs, shovel out the stalls at a therapeutic horse facility, work a phone tree, run a race for charity, or whatever kind of volunteering most floats your boat–tomorrow you will be in good company. It’s a nationwide thing. Thousands of events will host hordes of volunteers (but we still need you!)

If you need some inspiration, or direct information about organizations in need of good volunteers like yourself, search here:


United We Serve

National Day of Service

MLK Day of Service

Americans With Disabilities Act and Volunteering

Today, July 26, is the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability and mandates access to places of business.

What a great day to make sure that your own actions and attitudes (and those of your family) embrace all equally. It is also a great day to look into volunteering opportunities that give you a chance to work with the disabled. Here are a few options to get you started on your search:

Here is the volunteer opportunities page for Disabled American Veterans.

Match-Up pairs volunteers with seniors with disabilities.

Work and Volunteer Abroad has a whole category of international volunteering with those with disabilities.

Of course, there’s a section in my Frommer’s book, 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, dedicated to volunteering with people with disabilities.

The Adaptive Sports Center is one of many organizations around the country and world dedicated (with the help of hard working volunteers) to improving activity opportunities for the differently-abled.

Volunteer Match lets you type in your zip code to find volunteer opportunities near you—use the keyword “disabled” or similar to refine your search. Then cross-reference and compare those results with the ones you get from United We Serve (

Volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind or one of the many other organizations that trains service animals.

Don’t stop here–let this tiny scratching of the surface be a springboard. There is something near to your location (at home and/or while on vacation) and there is also something near to your heart. Go out and find it.

Summertime Service for Youth

I’ve seen a whole mess of caps and gowns around town today, so Memorial Day, Summer Solstice, all of that seems secondary to the real start of summer—School is Out!

First Lady Michelle Obama helps fill care packages during a Congressional Service event at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Washington, D.C. June 8, 2010. (by Lawrence Jackson)

Ahh the dreamy days of 3 months of unplanned time. When I was a kid it meant a ton of bike riding, skateboarding, playing tag under the streetlights, and certainly getting up to our fair share of no good…but it didn’t mean an inordinate amount of time in front of a TV (or more likely today, computer). We cherished being outside. Not so much today’s kids. The lure of video games, Wii, TV reruns, and facebook are all far too strong to get them out the front door. In a White House press brief, “Research shows that many of our young people suffer learning set-backs and develop unhealthy eating habits during the summer break. Children can lose more than two months’ progress in reading achievement over the summer, and inactivity during the summer months can cause children to gain weight three times faster than during the school year.”

To counteract the ennui and inaction, First Lady Michelle Obama is extending her First Lady Platform against childhood obesity (Let’s Move) and spearheading “United We Serve: Let’s Read, Let’s Move” Here are some ways for you to get involved, motivating your own family and others. You could

  • Build or rehab a playground
  • Clear a walking trail
  • Sponsor a sports tournament or camp for kids
  • Support a child to meet the President’s active lifestyle challenge
  • Conduct summer feeding program outreach
  • Create a community garden
  • Glean a local farm and donate the fresh produce
  • Read to kids
  • Organize a book drive
  • Organize a back to school supplies drive

This summertime energizing movement is a joint project of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Interior, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences…and US.

A little Wii, a pinch of facebooking and keeping in touch, a daily dose of reading this blog…it needn’t add up to an entire summer day. Fill the rest of the time, and make sure there is ample food/nutrition and play opportunities for families that cannot supply enough on their own. When the school bell rings in September, you’ll look back at this summer with satisfaction, knowing you did something more than score a personal best on Super Mario Brothers.