2009-04-30 / From The Mayor...


Leading The Way In Answering A National Call to Service

Since my days as an Eagle Scout, I've always found that giving back is one of life's greatest rewards and that civic service may be the most important thing we ever do. For those reasons, I've pledged that New York City will lead the way in answering President Obama's call for a new era of service in America.

Earlier this month, in fact on the eve of the President signing the 'Serve America Act,' which will triple the size of AmeriCorps, we launched NYC Service, an ambitious campaign to unleash an army of volunteers to tackle our city's greatest challenges.

NYC Service really aims to accomplish three things. The first is to make New York the easiest city in which to serve. And we'll achieve that by harnessing the power of 311 and the City's website to direct potential volunteers to the organizations that best fit their interests.

To support these efforts, we are also establishing the 'New York City Civic Corps.' This will be a group of 'expert' volunteers - the elite troops of our new volunteer army - who will be dispatched for one year of full-time work to non-profits and public agencies across the city. There, they'll help their organizations to recruit more volunteers and to use them more strategically.

That brings us to the second goal of NYC Service: channeling the power of volunteers to address the biggest challenges of the current financial crisis. This is something completely unprecedented; never before has any city ever thoughtfully and deliberately connected the energy and idealism of volunteers to solving its greatest needs.

For instance, we'll enlist volunteers to help others pull through this recession by providing free financial counseling free legal assistance and by working at food pantries. We'll reinvigorate the NYPD's Block Watch program. And we'll encourage landlords to paint their dark roofs white, saving energy and reducing global warming.

The third goal of NYC Service is making civic service a core part of what it means to be a New Yorker. And we'll start with our youngest: Beginning this fall, every principal in every public school will create a service plan that teaches students the responsibility they have as citizens to participate and engage in our democracy.

We're all familiar with the words commonly used to describe New Yorkers: creative, resilient, opinionated - well, now we hope to add 'civic-minded' to the top of that list. And why not? Just think back to how we came together and helped each other out during the blackout in 2003. And it's not just during times of crisis - whether it's in the military, at a volunteer organization, in government, or through simple acts of kindness during the course of a day, we are surrounded by people who don't hesitate to help others in need.

I'm sure many people listening this morning volunteer their time and talents - and I want to thank you for that. But we can all do a little bit more - and to find out how, just call 311 or visit nyc.gov. Our city needs you now more than ever.

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