This week, President Obama announced a new summer service initiative: United We Serve. He is calling on all people - young, old, from across the country - to volunteer this summer, from June 22 to September 11. He states that the changes cannot come solely from Washington, but we need to "build a new foundation for economic growth in America" beginning at the community level.
"We can rebuild our schools, but we need people to be mentors and tutors in those schools. We can modernize our health care system, but we need volunteers in our hospitals and communities to help care for the sick and help people lead healthier lives," he said in his video address.
So how will this affect Chicago? What opportunities exist for Chicagoans to take on this challenge and volunteer their time this summer - and beyond - and what opportunities can we create to maximize this initiative?
WomenOnCall.org, my Chicago-based non-profit, takes a unique perspective to volunteering. It's an online network that matches women who are committed to volunteering their professional expertise with non-profit organizations that have specific and immediate volunteer needs. For example, an accountant may help a non-profit submit 990 forms, a lawyer may help review a memorandum of understanding, a public relations specialist may create a media outreach plan or help with a special event. And much of this can be done virtually - at home, while waiting in an airport or during a lunch break.
I accept President Obama's Unite We Serve challenge - will you? If you're not sure how to find an exciting and unique opportunity in your community, consider volunteering your professional talents to a non-profit.