Volunteerism Essay, Research Paper
Volunteerism: Not A New Concept at Catholic
Gathered in Philadelphia this past month to promote a radical movement toward community involvement, political leaders past and present banned together to set a national precedent of service at the Presisdents? Summit for America?s Future. Spear-headed by Gen.Colin L. Powell, the Summit was an urgent plea on behalf of millions of under privileged youth that are threatened by the decay our prized American dream. There weren?t only political figures on hand to support the optimistic cause; celebrities like John Travolta and Brooke Shields made appearances to express their own views on the importance of aiding our youth through volunteerism. Oprah Winfrey, T.V. talk show queen, served the Summit as master of ceremonies.
This campaign is not just about getting the American citizen to spend time volunteering, it is a clever ploy to draw corporate America in the movement as well. Speaker after speaker insisted that although the purpose of the gathering was to promote the importance of a personal commitment to the volunteering effort it is not to give the federal government freedom from this domestic issue. Spokespersons for the Summit reiterated that their goal is to educate the American people as to how imperative their assistance is in order to give these at-risk children the hope of having a productive and rewarding future. General Powell appealed to everyone when he emotionally stated,?All of us can give an extra dollar. All of us can touch someone who doesn?t look like us, who doesn?t speak like us, who may not dress like us, but, by God, needs us in their lives.?
This is by no means the first attempt to encourage the citizens of this country to ban together to help stafe off a growing threat to our future. Lyndon Johnson?s War on Poverty was also operated by private, nonprofit agencies. And the Bush administration headed the ?Thousand Points of Light? campaign, also aimed at increasing volunteerism. President Clinton and former presidents Bush, Carter, and Ford also pointed out that this issue transcends partisan politics. Many non-profit organizations are pleased with the growing effort, but rather skeptical that volunteers can compensate for a receding federal government. The major task that now rests upon these organizations is to challenge the local corporations in their community to join in the service projects. Colin Powell described this as ?guilt-tripping?, scrutinizing any corporate leaders who claim that corporate America has no place in charity work.
Here is the basic core of this generational tragedy: the primary causes for this decay of our youth stems from dysfunctional family lives, drugs, domestic violence, and the overall loss of hope for adolescents who have been deprived of love and attention. The Summit does not pretend to have the sole solutions to the ever threatening fate. The Summit created its own strategy to focus on prevention and formulated a list of five basic needs of at-risk kids:
1.) An on going relationship with a caring person: This essential one-on-one attention is something that the federal government cannot provide. It has been proven that the best results occur when the relationships are sustained on a daily basis. The attempt by many employers to give their employees release time on a monthly basis is certainly a major step in solving the problem. However, in order to reach the goals set by the Summit, the program must become more flexible.
2.) Safe, supervised activities: Most inner city kids find trouble between the end of the school day and the time that their parents come home from work. Throughout the nation, there is a shortage in after-school activities.The goal of the Summit is to provide for every child, with a focus on kids ages 12-18; the time many kids involved in after-school activities tend to drop out.
3.) A healthy start: The Summit does not expect individual commitments to cover 10 million uninsured children. The aim to provide children who aren?t poor enough for Medicaid with medical care is a job primarily for the government.
4.) Marketable Skills: The object of this plan is to create a recognizable link between education and work for children to witness. To do this, a vast increase in internships and ?job shadowing? for teens is necessary.
5.) A sense of service: Here, children who are enrolled in service projects themselves become part of the solution. Many schools in the country are making service work part of the curriculum. In Maryland, service learning is mandatory. At Lancaster Catholic High School, community service is a apart of everyday life and a valued asset to their students development.
The Christian Service program appears to be ahead of its time. The need for active service in Lancaster?s community was addressed over eight years ago when the program first began. But Christian Service does more than simply helping the individuals on the designated assignment. Christian Service allows its students to experience life and the joy of giving your gifts and talents to someone who desperately needs your love. In a political society that it so concerned with the violation of one?s rights and the separation of church and state, I find it ironic that within the Summit Declaration it is stated,?We owe a debt of service to fulfill the God-given promise of America. God is at the heart of this nation and every nation in the world. This summit is just a small symbol that many citizens in this country are beginning to realize that no amount of federal moneys or legislation for improvement are going to solve the problems facing our future. The root of this crisis is internal and can only be healed through human contact, driven by the need to inspire faith in the hearts of those who have lost hope in the American Dream. For Christian Service students, the opportunity to go out into the community allows them to witness their ability to make a difference and gives them the hope of a very promising tomorrow.