United We Serve

By Cheryl Mahoney

I try to stay aware of what’s happening in the world of service and volunteering–and to get UniversalGiving involved where we can.  Lately, I’ve felt like I had to run to keep up with President Obama in this area.  Every time I turn around, something new seems to be happening–which is great!  There’s Serve.gov, the Serve America Act, the Social Innovation Fund…and the latest is United We Serve.

The President is calling for a “Summer of Service.”  Confronted with so many challenges in this nation, now is the time to come together and go to work in our communities.  As he puts it, “This summer, I’m calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of this nation.”  That’s just what we’ve been working for at UniversalGiving too: “to create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life.”  

The Summer of Service kicked off yesterday, June 22, and will run until September 11th, which has been declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  As part of launching United We Serve, yesterday Michelle Obama visited San Francisco, volunteering with Maria Shriver at Bret Harte Middle School, and speaking at The National Conference on Volunteering and Service.  The Conference is put on by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Institute.  It started yesterday and runs through tomorrow, bringing together almost 5,000 people who are passionate about volunteering and service–including our founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley. 


Pamela emailed me yesterday while listening to Michelle Obama give the keynote address–I admit, I’m a little jealous!  But for all of us not in the crowd to hear Michelle in person, at least there’s a video of her discussing United We Serve on Serve.gov, which is a great website for connecting to service opportunities.   And I’m not very jealous anyway–I saw Barack Obama speak when he came to San Francisco last November.  You can watch a video of him speaking about United We Serve too.

I feel like I’ve been seeing a growing emphasis lately on volunteering.  Some of that is coming from Washington, but it’s everyone out here on the ground getting involved who are making things happen.  It’s exciting to see, and makes me so hopeful about what we might achieve, not only in our communities but in the world, by helping someone across the street or across an ocean.  Ultimately, it’s about reaching out.


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