Monday, January 19, 2009

Record Volunteer Turnout Expected for Today's National King Day of Service

President-elect Barack Obama’s call for Americans to join in service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the King Holiday has had an electrifying effect -- with a record number of 12,000-plus projects taking place in communities across America today.

Community and nonprofit groups across the country are thrilled about the large and enthusiastic response to the President-elect’s call to service, and hope that volunteers who serve today will make an ongoing commitment to serve throughout the year, as President-elect Obama has called for.

In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging that the King Federal Holiday be a national day of service, and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service [CNCS], a federal agency, with leading this national effort. Participation has grown every year since, but has taken a quantum leap this year with President-elect Obama’s call to service.

As of 2:00 p.m. yesterday, the Presidential Inauguration Committee [PIC] reported that more than 12,100 service projects have been registered on the website. This number is more than double the record set last year, when 500,000 Americans served through 5,000 projects on the King Day of Service.

“In this time of economic distress, we need citizen service more than ever,” said Stephen Goldsmith, the Corporation’s board chair. “Service is a solution that can bring us closer to Dr. King’s dream of a better America.

“While our nation has made great progress, we still have much work to do. Service is a powerful way for every American to bring us closer to meeting our challenges and fulfilling the promise of America.”

Another driver of this year’s record turnout is the Internet. Americans can find volunteer opportunities at or MLK; get ideas for do-it-yourself volunteer projects at America Serves MLK Challenge; join the MLK Day Facebook Cause; or get real-time photos at Flickr and project reports on Twitter.

“Through President-elect Obama’s call to service, the hard work and planning by thousands of community groups, and the savvy use of the Internet, we will see an extraordinary demonstration of the power of citizen action across America tomorrow,” said Nicola Goren, acting CEO of the Corporation. “We are thrilled that President-elect Obama has made service a centerpiece of his inauguration and will make it a central cause of his administration.”

A wide variety of projects are being planned, including: delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, removing graffiti, reading to children, and more. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round civic action, such as signing up mentors or tutors, or youth taking pledges of nonviolence.

Below, are some highlights:

* Thousands of volunteers will gather at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, in Washington, D.C., to assemble more than 75,000 care packages to send to our troops for the "Day of Service for Our Military" project, sponsored by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Serve DC, in partnership with Operation Gratitude and Target.

* More than 65,000 volunteers will serve in 900 projects in the 14th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest in the country. Organizers are using the day to launch MLK365, a new year-round initiative promoting sustainable civic engagement and volunteer opportunities

* The Points of Light Institute and its Hands On Network will engage more than 100,000 volunteers in projects across the country that are expected to serve more than one million Americans.

* Yesterday, the National Alliance of Faith and Justice recruited mentors for children of prisoners and other at-risk youth at more than 425 places of worship as part of Justice Sunday.

* More than 600 Boys & Girls Clubs are participating in the King Day of Service, engaging members in community clean-ups, writing letters to soldiers, organizing food drives, visiting senior centers, and creating care packages for sick children.

* The American Red Cross is teaming up with HOPE worldwide to engage volunteers in 25 cities to canvass door-to-door and provide vital fire safety information to help residents prevent home fires, protect their loved ones, and strengthen their community.

* Many major U.S. corporations are participating in King Day by encouraging their employees to serve and supporting local projects. Examples include Shell, Target, Best Buy, Kaiser Permanente, and Walmart.

* More than 16,000 college students from 130 campuses in 28 states will engage in King Day service projects organized by Campus Compact -- with projects ranging from neighborhood clean-ups, to preparing and serving meals to hospice patients.

* In Buffalo, N.Y., several hundred members of the Western New York AmeriCorps program will supervise 4,000 volunteers for projects -- including boarding up the windows of dangerous condemned houses, to teaching community members how to run their own community garden.

* At colleges across the U.S., The Campus Kitchens Project will engage college students and community volunteers in leading hunger relief programs to share on-campus kitchen space, recover unused food from campus cafeterias, and deliver meals to low-income neighborhoods.

* Children for Children, in New York City, will engage 3,000 elementary and middle-school students in a day of hands-on service projects honoring Dr. King at two schools in Midtown and Harlem.

* Youth Service America has launched Semester of Service to encourage students, ages 5-25, to engage in service-learning starting on King Day and culminating on Global Youth Service Day [April 24-26, 2009].

The seven national strategic partners for the 2009 King Day of Service include the Points of Light Institute, The Corps Network, North Carolina Campus Compact, Youth Service America, Service for Peace, Campus Kitchens Project, and the National Alliance of Faith and Justice.

National nonprofit partners include the AARP, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Red Cross, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ASPCA], America's Promise Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Breakthrough Collaborative, Causecast, City Year, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, HOPE worldwide, The King Memorial Foundation, Lutheran Social Services, MENTOR, National Marrow Donor Program, ServiceNation, Student Conservation Association, United Way of America, VolunteerMatch, and YouthBuild USA.

Corporate partners include Cargill, Clear Channel, Comcast, Shell Oil Company, Starbucks, Target, and UPS.

A complete list of partners is at

The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation provides opportunities for four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. For more information, go to

GoodBiz113's take: Opportunities abound for businesses of all sizes to serve -- with time, energy, leadership, products, services, money, etc. Answer President-elect Barack Obama's call now to get involved at the local, state, regional and/or national level. The ROI will be greater than your fiscal year-end bottom line could even begin to quantify.

SOURCE: Corporation for National and Community Service

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Verbatim: It's the Economy [and Green Energy, Infrastructure Needs and Can-Do Spirit], Stupid

Every week, GoodBiz113 features comments made by politicos and other influencers who are propelling the interests of small-business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants, self-employed folks, artists, etc.

* "Economists from across the political spectrum agree that if we don't act swiftly and boldly, we could see a much deeper economic downturn. That's why we need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short term, but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long term... I am optimistic that if we come together to seek solutions that advance not the interests of any party, or the agenda of any one group, but the aspirations of all Americans, then we will meet the challenges of our time, just as previous generations have met the challenges of theirs." -- President-elect Barack Obama, launching his campaign for a massive economic-stimulus package -- including roughly $300 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses, small-business write-offs, plus a new credit for businesses that either create jobs in the United States or avoid layoffs -- aimed at reviving an economy mired in recession [, Jan. 5, 2009]

* "...President-elect Obama has already nominated his administrator for SBA: Karen Mills, a venture capitalist from Maine with an impressive resume. That is a big improvement from President George W. Bush, who took over six months to fill the position... Big business is not going to be the salvation for the economic development of our communities. It is going to be the growth of small business, and we need an SBA that can do the job it once did – provide capital access, technical assistance and procurement opportunities for ready and willing small businesses throughout the land. May President Obama lead us on to better days." -- Harry C. Alford [pictured above], National Black Chamber of Commerce [NBCC] president, CEO and co-founder [Toledo Journal, Jan. 6, 2009]

* “Their presence in Washington, D.C., may provide some comfort to small-business owners who, according to a recent poll by the National Association for the Self-Employed [NASE], overwhelmingly believe their needs are not being represented in Congress." -- SBA's Office of Advocacy, reporting that a whopping 24 incoming members of the new111th Congress [out of a total of 61] bring small-business expertise to Capitol Hill [The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2009]

" "I don't like spending taxpayers' dollars, but I do like it if we're going to do something to create jobs for people and resulting highways and bridges and schools... I think the average citizen out there would really love to pay less taxes." -- Freshman U.S. House Rep. Bobby Bright [D-Ala.], regarding the economic stimulus package expected to include money for road and bridge projects, tax breaks for individuals and businesses, and aid to drooping state budgets [Montgomery Adviser, Jan. 7, 2009]

* "To finally spark the creation of a clean-energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills. In the process, we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced – jobs building solar panels and wind turbines; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain... To build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America. Yes, we’ll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges, and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects. But we’ll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy. That means updating the way we get our electricity by starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation. It means expanding broadband lines across America, so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world. And, it means investing in the science, research, and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries." -- President-elect Barack Obama, articulating his intent to "spark a green-energy economy" [Boston Globe, Jan. 8, 2009]

* "It [2009] will be a pretty tough year. I think you will see a return to the old-school methodology where things that have value will do well, and people will be selling things that are genuine necessities. It will be difficult to scramble out of the situation we’re in now, and people will be looking to the federal government and new administration to provide economic stimulus. In the mortgage industry, we’re on the cusp of rates being lowered. So, a refinance boom could occur, but that’s not necessarily a good indicator for the overall economy. Businesses in Palo Alto, the region and the nation will need to work very hard together to get out of the economic downturn by 2010." -- Tommy Fehrenbach, a loan officer at Palo Alto's Stern Mortgage Company, and chairman of the board of the 650-member Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce [Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Jan. 8, 2009]

* "I see a bumpy ride ahead next year [2009]. I’m hopeful the federal government infrastructure economic stimulus package that President-elect Barack Obama is supposed to introduce will provide an infusion of capital into local communities that will help reverse the economic slide we’re in. We’re seeing a softening of the retail market, which affects our city’s sales tax revenue that, in turn, reduces the amount of money available for city services and programs. I hope the infrastructure package can help reverse the softening of the employment market and, perhaps, restore consumer confidence." -- Daren Fields, economic development director, City of Fremont, Cal. [Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Jan. 8, 2009]

* “Our country is in the midst of one of the worse economic downturns of our time, and the year ahead will be difficult... Although we have a lot of work ahead of us, my colleagues and I are already working to find the best policy solutions to get our country back on track. I plan to implement an agenda for the 111th Congress that will tackle the housing crisis, help to create jobs, aid our schools and bolster our struggling small businesses.” -- Rep. Yvette D. Clarke [D-N.Y.] said in a published statement, just one day after being sworn into the 111th Congress. Clarke, the youngest African-American woman serving in Congress, was re-elected in November with 94 percent of the vote, and was also sworn in as whip of the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday. As a member of the Small Business Committee, she plans to advocate and lead efforts on improving the U.S. Small Business Administration’s [SBA] special contracting programs, to allow small businesses owned by disadvantaged individuals or located in impoverished areas to compete for government contracts -- including those identified as minority- and women-owned businesses. She also said she will seek to reintroduce H.R. 7087, which amends the Small Business Act to direct the SBA administrator to establish a grant program with funds available to state and local governments. Such funds would be used to assist eligible small businesses in building their capacity and access to contracting opportunities -- in particular, women and socially and economically disadvantaged enterprises. [Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 9, 2009]

* "The report confirms that our plan will likely save or create three to four million jobs... Ninety percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector. The remaining 10 percent are mainly public-sector jobs we save, like the teachers, police officers, firefighters and others who provide vital services in our communities... These made-in-America jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, developing fuel-efficient cars and new energy technologies pay well, and they can't be outsourced... Recovery won't happen overnight, and it's likely that things will get worse before they get better... We have come through moments like this before ... And I am confident that if we come together and summon that great American spirit once again, we will meet the challenges of our time and write the next great chapter in our American story." -- President-elect Barack Obama, during Saturday's weekly radio address, in which he discussed a 14-page analysis of his proposed $775 billion economic stimulus plan, designed to revive the ailing U.S. economy [AFP, Jan. 11, 2009]

GoodBiz113's take: The either/or days of yore -- i.e., that we have to choose between creating a sustainably healthy economy or a clean environment -- are long gone. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden have proposed an ambitious plan that effectively serves the interests of all Americans and the global environment. Now, regardless of our political stripes, we need to muster up an optimistic spirit and collaborate for the greater long-term good. To quote a win-win-winning campaign slogan: "Yes, We Can."

SOURCES: AFP, Boston Globe, Brooklyn Daily Eagle,, Library of Congress, Montgomery Adviser, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Toledo Journal, U.S. Small Business Administration, Wall Street Journal

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