Jan 17-19:Make it a Service-Service weekend

Between United Way’s Day of Service, Saturday, Jan 17 and President-Elect Obama’s National Day of Service, Monday, Jan 19, you could be a very busy volunteer.

The biggest distinction between what Obama wants us to do and what the United Way has been doing for years is that Obama wants to service commitment to last longer than a day. He wants us to make it a part of our lives. But it’s one thing to get people off the sofa for one day, how do you get them to stay off the sofa once a week for a semester, a year, or longer?

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, concedes that service isn’t for everyone. “To be really fair, this requires time and/or money that might be lacking; for example, a single parent putting kids through college is already more than busy,” he says in his post on Huffington. So let’s not overly burden the single mothers with more guilt.

Newmark, by the way, is relevant at this point because Pres-Elect Obama made a reference to “a craigslist for service” in one of his speeches. But Newmark thinks we already have the means to do this via online sites like VolunteerMatch.org; there are also sites like our own Hands On Central Texas that make it easy to give some time to a local cause. What I think Americans need is the encouragement, incentive, motivation… whatever it is that gets people to take an action.

Maybe Obama can do what the United Way and thousands of other nonprofits around the country have not been able to do. Hmm. Obamanos.

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