This is a guest post by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
In these challenging economic times, we must create new and innovative strategies to solve our problems and strengthen our communities. Simply put, we must make the very most of every resource at our disposal. While financial resources are obviously critical to Philadelphia, I have long believed that there is nothing more valuable than the time, energy and expertise of the extraordinary people who live, work and go to school in our great city.
I am deeply proud of the ethic of service that permeates Philadelphia. Whether it’s our network of 6,000 block captains dedicated to supporting their communities, the outpouring of volunteers for Philly’s Annual Spring Clean-Up, the generosity of City government employees who tutor children on their lunch hour or the thousands of citizens who volunteer regularly in support of issues they care about, we have always found meaningful ways to help one another.
When asking Philadelphians, “Why do you serve?” they are quick to respond, “I want to make a difference.” Thousands of Philadelphians stand ready, willing and able to share their time in support of addressing some of our most pressing challenges. This is a resource I have no intention of overlooking.
To take full advantage of Philadelphians’ commitment to help requires a clear and coordinated call to action. My 2011 Volunteer Impact Challenge does just that. It lays out the City’s top ten volunteer priorities and calls on citizens to collectively share their time and talents in ways that will have a clear and measurable impact on some of the City’s most ambitious goals. It provides a blueprint for Philadelphians interested in pledging their volunteer efforts for the greater good of their neighborhoods and city.
Why is this so important? As Mayor of Philadelphia, it is my responsibility to put forth a powerful, motivating vision of a better City and to work with my administrations to develop and carry out a plan worthy of that vision. When I took office, I committed to raise our high school graduation rate to 80% by 2015 and to double the percentage of college graduates from 18% to 36% by 2018. I have vowed to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America. I have committed to supporting neighborhoods to be safe, healthy and sustainable. Success in each of these areas requires a multifaceted plan of action that must include a strategy for effective volunteer engagement. For the thousands of Philadelphians stepping up to serve, I have laid out my top volunteer priorities for the year ahead.
- Teach Someone to Read
- Become a Graduation Coach
- Volunteer at a Library or Recreation Center
- Support Your Block Captain (or become one!)
- Tend a Tree or Community Garden
- Promote Recycling
- Organize an Ongoing Community Clean-Up
- Serve on a Board
- Help Create a Healthy Philadelphia
- Donate Blood
I encourage everyone to visit SERVEPhiladelphia today and take part in this one-of-a-kind Volunteer Impact Challenge. This brand new, exciting website makes it easy for Philadelphian of every age, from every neighborhood, to connect with non-profits and City agencies who need the support of volunteers to accomplish their mission.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” Serving in partnership with one another, I am confident there is no limit to what we can accomplish.