03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Serve The Community With Create The Good

For those of us immersed in changing public policy -- whether that means affordable health care, clean energy, consumer protection, financial regulation or another issue -- this has been a season of intense involvement. But government action is not the only way to improve the quality of life for our neighbors and our communities; it's going to take significant individual engagement as well.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) has made an industry-wide commitment to embed messages of volunteer service in dozens of television shows this week. At AARP, we're working with EIF to promote service and connect people with countless opportunities to become engaged in helping others through

Create The Good promotes service and removes obstacles. It offers an easy path to service whether people have five minutes, five hours or five days to contribute.

This year's Civic Health Index reported that 50 percent of Americans are helping others in self-directed ways. AARP and other groups are making available new do-it-yourself kits that people can download from and use to help relatives or neighbors organize prescription medicines, arrange a home for safety, avoid fraud and address other needs. also has how-to videos for simple service projects people can organize on their own, like weatherizing homes, starting walking groups and starting giving circles.

As individuals engage in changing public policy, we can also help an older neighbor get to the doctor, use medicine wisely or make modifications to her home to help her live more independently.

As we promote energy conservation and protect the environment, we can help a neighbor by providing a checklist of energy-saving tips for the home. We can recruit friends and neighbors to clean a stream or river.

And as we advocate for financial service laws and regulations, we can also promote financial literacy and give people the tools and know-how for resisting fraud.

Check us out at You'll find ideas for service brought to life -- through do-it-yourself kits, how-to videos and ways to connect with other volunteers in your area.

Americans are ready to serve. Research conducted last year for AARP found that four in 10 people ages 44 to 79 expected to volunteer more in the next five years. Their talent, experience and energy can make a real difference in solving problems and serving others. Now they have a new tool to help move from good intentions to powerful action.

The unending capacity to make lives better through public policy and civic engagement has always defined our country. Now it's up to each of us to help improve our communities and the lives of those around us.

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