This past September 11th I, along with about 60 other youth, met with Usher to discuss what our societal goals were for community service/volunteerism. After that, we attended the discussion with Senator Obama and Senator McCain focusing on service efforts here in our country. The next day, I attended the Service Nation Summit - speakers included Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Bon Jovi, and Ted Kennedy. I also spoke alongside several other youth reading the Declaration of Youth Service - I stated, just as Martin Luther King Jr. did, that anyone can be great because anyone can serve. (my platform in it's sheer entirety right there ladies and gentlemen). I also spoke that night at the reception. It was an exhilarating couple of days. The growing excitement of the election loomed and we we were all encouraged by the two Senators views on service and how it would be implemented when one stepped into office.
Please FF to Tuesday April 22. A victorious day for me, and for our country. Our President signed the Service Act. (!!!!!!!) Here is a brief summary:
Among other things, the Serve America Act increases national service positions from 75,000 to 250,000, and creates targeted service corps to address issues related to education, health, poverty, veterans, and clean energy; creates incentives and programs to boost community and faith-based volunteering by Americans of all ages; and establishes a “Social Innovation Fund” to seed the best ideas and strategies for solving chronic societal problems (a detailed summary can be found at http://www.nationalservice.
To make the day even better, I was invited to be a part of New York Cares kick-off for their campaign 50,000 for NYC. When I arrived I was introduced to the other speakers. One in particular grabbed my attention. Valerie is a senior in high school and has been a New York Cares volunteer for three years. She has done some really amazing things. But the most notable thing she said was "I go to school, I work a part time job, and I still find time to volunteer. If I can, you can too." It's true. Doesn't it seems like we always just want some "down time"? Put your down time to some good and change the landscape of your community.
I congratulated each of the 250 volunteers at the orientation for taking the initiative to be there, and on being the first 250 of the 50,000 volunteers that NYCares will mobilize this year. If you live in New York and aren't a member of NYCares, you should be. Sign up! It's easy and the orientations are painless. If you're already a member, kudos to you! (I said something similar on my Video Blog for their website, I can't wait to see how awkward I look!)
This was a HUGE day for me. As un-well as I felt my spirits were lifted and my hopes super high for our country. We can do big things, people. Because it's the small actions that matter.
So, Tuesday night I cracked open a Red Bull and "cheers-ed" our nation, our state, and our city. And thanked God that I was still Miss New York.
PS: I also interviewed with NBC Mobile on Tuesday. Did someone say Miss CA USA? Gay marriage rights? Roxana Saberi? I did. But, only after I did a celebratory dance for President Obama and the pen in his hand.