ServiceNation spurs drive for volunteers

NEW YORK: Volunteer service groups that sponsored a forum on September 11 in New York, attracting presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, planned to build on the grassroots interest from the event.

NEW YORK: Volunteer service groups that sponsored a forum on September 11 in New York, attracting presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, planned to build on the grassroots interest from the event. The 100-plus groups in the coalition, which includes City Year, Civic Enterprise, the Points of Light Institute, and Be the Change, hope to use the event as a kicking-off point to gather new participants for a national “day of action” on September 27, which generally calls on people to become volunteers.

Rubenstein Associates EVP Suzi Halpin, whose firm represents the 9/11-focused volunteer group Be the Change, said her client and the other service groups involved in ServiceNation Summit, as the forum was called, see promotion of the upcoming volunteer day as both a grassroots and grasstops campaign. As such, it is supported by ordinary citizens, as well as top business leaders, politicians, and celebrities who attended the forum, she added.

“ServiceNation is as both a coalition and a movement,” Halpin said.

“The leadership of these [groups] came together and the forum really served as just the beginning. The co-conveners... really made the case for this being an important moment.”

At press time, nearly 2,400 events in all 50 states were being planned for the day of action, organized and promoted by hundreds of various nonprofits through their own communications channels, as well as social media channels such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

Halpin said several hundred press members attended parts or all of the ServiceNation event, held at Columbia University. Separate discussions with McCain and Obama, moderated by PBS' Judy Woodruff and Richard Stengel, editor-in-chief of Time – whose issue last year on “service” originally prompted the development of the forum – ran live on CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN.

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