by Connie Midey - Jun. 20, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
If you’re eager to tackle community challenges as part of the new United We Serve campaign, you won’t need to wait long to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
On Monday, the first day of the summer campaign, Keep Phoenix Beautiful hosts a volunteer project that could lure you outdoors in the early morning hours and leave you feeling good about giving Mother Nature a helping hand.
In a video message launching United We Serve, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Americans to read to kids, help at a hospital, pick up trash or participate in other volunteer activities.
"Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington - and it’s going to take all of us, working together," he said.
Volunteers for the non-profit Keep Phoenix Beautiful already have been hard at work, further evidence that the economic bust has inspired what the Corporation for National and Community Service calls a "compassion boom."
The government-run CNCS is managing the United We Serve Web site (serve.gov), where potential volunteers can find projects in their community and ideas for developing their own. The federal agency coordinates the Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs.
Keep Phoenix Beautiful’s project Monday is a sprucing up of Steele Indian School Park in central Phoenix before the park’s Fabulous Phoenix 4th celebration. The work, done in cooperation with the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, will include weeding, raking and trimming. Volunteers also are being asked to take on recycling and other tasks during the Independence Day event.
The United We Serve initiative ends Sept. 11 with a new National Day of Service and Remembrance to mark the eighth anniversary of 9/11, but the work of non-profit agencies and the volunteers who support them will continue.
Keep Phoenix Beautiful, an affiliate since 1982 of Keep America Beautiful, offers community service projects year-round, executive director Tom Waldeck said.