The movement to transform 9-11 into an annual day of service picked up some momentum this year. MyGoodDeed.org, the nonprofit founded in 2003 by friends and relatives of 9-11 victims, gained two important allies this year in their quest: ServiceNation and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. ServiceNation is a coalition of more than 600 nonprofit groups nationwide which is hosting the two presidential candidates in a civic engagement forum in New York on Sept. 11. Obama and McCain have agreed to MyGoodDeed.org’s request that they suspend campaigning and negative advertising on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this year, and instead engage in voluntary service.
“The anniversary of September 11 should be officially recognized as a national day of charitable service to honor the 9/11 victims, volunteers and rescue and recovery workers of Ground Zero,” said David Paine, president of MyGoodDeed.org. “All of us can best honor the memory of those lost by engaging in good deeds, community service and other charitable acts to rekindle the remarkable spirit of unity that existed following the 9/11 tragedy.”
New York Cares has agreed to organize 9-11 service projects together with MyGoodDeed.org to also carry out this vision of transforming the day into a day of service.
Details of the program can be found at ServiceNation‘s website, which includes members of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation attending MyGoodDeed.org’s signature service project on September 11 at PS 124, a public elementary school in the Chinatown community in downtown Manhattan.
The 25-member Council, created by Executive Order of the President of the United States in 2003, includes actors Stephen Baldwin, Patricia Heaton and Hillary Duff; NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne; Art Linkletter; journalist Cokie Roberts; and other prominent individuals. [List available here.] The Council recognizes the important contributions Americans of all ages are making within their communities through service and civic engagement.
ServiceNation’s summit meeting on national service in New York City on September 11-12, is expected to be attended by more than 500 influential delegates from throughout the nonprofit community. Caroline Kennedy and Alma Powell are co-chairs, and Barack Obama, John McCain, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other nationally prominent figures are expected to participate.
ServiceNation was the brainchild of BeTheChange, CivicEnterprises, CityYear and the Points of Light Foundation (which recently merged with HandsOnNetwork and is now led by HandsOnNetwork founder Michelle Nunn). The vision of ServiceNation is “an America in which, by 2020, 100 million citizens will volunteer time in schools, workplaces, and faith-based and community institutions each and every year (up from 61 million today), and that increasing numbers of Americans annually will commit a year of their lives to national service.”
On a related note: the forthcoming issue of TIME magazine has a cover story on national service, and I’ve contributed a mini-essay on the importance and promise of national service in building cross-racial bonds.
Background on MyGoodDeed: Each year since the 2001 attacks, the MyGoodDeed.org movement has sought to inspire millions of people from around the nation and world to perform good deeds, volunteer and engage in other charitable and civic activities on the anniversary of the attacks, in honor of the victims, volunteers and rescue and recovery workers. In 2007, more than 300,000 good deeds were posted on the MyGoodDeed.org Website by participants from all 50 U.S. states and 150 different countries and territories.
Founded in 2003 by two close friends, David Paine and Jay Winuk, following the death of Jay’s brother, attorney and volunteer firefighter Glenn Winuk, who perished in the line of duty on September 11, 2001, MyGoodDeed.org has gained widespread bipartisan and bicameral support. In 2004, the MyGoodDeed organization worked closely with Congressional leaders to secure unanimous passage of H. Con. Res. 473, urging the designation of 9/11 as a national day of service, charity and compassion.