On Saturday, January 19th, I headed to the Service Summit on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., which was part of the National Day of Service. The National Day of Service is a nationwide effort to give back time in service to others in need. In all 50 states of the U.S., volunteers worked together with community service organizations on service projects. At the Service Summit on the National Mall, there were about 100 service organizations on hand conducting service projects, training volunteers and signing them up to help their causes during the upcoming year.
The morning started with speeches from Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) Co-Chair Eva Longoria, National Day of Service Honorary Chair Chelsea Clinton and Beau Biden, the Delaware Attorney General. Each told stories of their own inspiration for service and encouraged others, especially kids, to use the National Day of Service as an opportunity to begin a life of service to others. Longoria talked about growing up in a family of people who volunteered. She said people should start with one thought. “Make a difference in one child’s life.” Beau Biden, who is Vice President Joe Biden’s son, emphasized the importance of service and told the crowd that, in 2011, Americans spent 8 billion hours giving back to their communities.
After the speeches, the Summit moved to an area where the service organizations were split into seven themes of service: community resilience, economic development, education, environment, faith, health and veterans and military families. I caught up with former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton after she joined eight-year old Addison Rose in making cards to cheer up those who are ill. The experience and Inauguration brought back many memories, Clinton told me. “Being here and working with children like Addison reminds me of doing service projects with my family,” she said. Chelsea Clinton also mentioned that her father, President Bill Clinton, signed the bill 19 years ago that made Martin Luther King Day a National Day of Service.
Some members of President Obama’s cabinet took part in the service projects. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told me that he found service “was the best way [he] could help humanity become better.”
The idea of the Summit was to match a personal interest with an organization’s mission. When people have an interest in an area, they are more likely to continue with their commitment to volunteer. One participating group that stood out to me was Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that rescues abandoned animals, mostly dogs. I liked this organization because they are saving animals that have been treated poorly—no animal should be abused. It was a humbling experience for me to see all these people helping out, serving and giving back to their communities.
TFK Kid Reporter Bridget Bernardo reported from Washington, D.C., for the President’s second Inauguration. Click here to read a report on her special visit to the White House to talk with the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden. Click here to read her report from the Kids' Inaugural Concert. Click here to read her report on Inauguration Day.