United We Serve Initiative Promotes Community Service

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Photo by Mrsrichardson823/ Courtesy Flickr
President Obama launched a new White House initiative asking people to volunteer their time for 81 days this summer to help make a difference in their communities.

What would happen if everyone spent 81 days a year trying to make the world a better place? Thanks to the White House’s newest program, United We Serve, we might have a chance to find out.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are challenging Americans to participate in volunteer work and community service from June 22 to September 11. United We Serve calls on all Americans, young and old, individuals and corporations, to help make their communities a better place. The initiative is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service and aims to expand the impact of existing service organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, spending three hours a week reading to a child means they will be twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading. It also combats the loss of learning which often occurs over the summer. Other small projects can yield equally large results.

Through United We Serve’s website you can create your own service project; register your project and recruit volunteers; find a local volunteer opportunity that matches your interests; or share a story about your volunteer work. The web service All for Good acts as a volunteer matching platform, while the main website on Serve.gov offers toolkits with advice for starting projects in education, health, community renewal, and energy and the environment.

More than a dozen members of Obama’s Cabinet are participating in the call to service including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who is helping remove non-native plants from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia; Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who is visiting a homeless shelter in Arizona to read to children and serve them lunch; and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who is helping construct energy-efficient housing for low-income individuals in Los Angeles.

If you are interested in answering the call to service, visit Serve.gov for more information.

More about volunteer opportunities

• Give someone the gift of service. Check out these ideas on how to make a special present for any occasion.

• Read about Hannah’s Lunchbox to see how a 16-year-old girl reaches out to the hungry.

• Help fight hunger by donating one row of your vegetable garden to a local soup kitchen through the program Plant a Row for the Hungry.

• Find out how you can volunteer with Architecture for Humanity, a group that wants to change lives through the power of design.