Letters to the Editor

A letter from the governor: ‘lend a hand’

Every one of us can help our state respond to the current economic crisis. You don’t have to build a highway or weatherize a house; you can lend a hand in other ways to a fellow citizen.

Across the state, people are generously volunteering to help their neighbors. I was inspired this year by meeting 90-year-old Elise Krueger, of Edmonds, who has spent 12,000 hours helping others over the last eight years.

And I know our future looks bright because I’ve seen the amazing generosity of our younger generation. This spring, United Way of Pierce County honored 222 high school students who earned their varsity letters in Volunteerism.

Even in difficult times, community spirit is a Washington value. In its most recent report, the Corporation for National and Community Service ranked Washington as No. 3 of the 50 states for the number of volunteers who stick with it year after year, and No. 5 for the number of hours volunteered.

Now we need to take our service to a higher level.

This week, I will host the State Service Summit at the University of Washington. It is the first of its kind since President Obama made service a part of our national recovery. By signing the Edward Kennedy Serve America Act, the president put us on a course to expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots to 250,000. The act will support organizations that help people find the right volunteer position and encourage new approaches to community needs.

At the service summit, local and state leaders will gather with our partners in nonprofits and philanthropy to discuss a simple theme: “Service as a strategy.” We need volunteerism to be more than an addition to social programs. It should be built into every plan for meeting community needs, by private and nonprofit groups as well as the government.

The summit itself is an example of maximizing community resources, combining leadership from our own state Commission for National and Community Service, professional know-how from the United Way of King County, and generous backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Boeing Company.

We’ll discuss how to link the willing with the needy through connectors like VolunteerWashington.org or President Obama’s new national volunteer recruitment site, Serve.gov. Coordination is what government and nonprofit groups can do, and I’m asking all of us to do more of it.

I’m asking you to help in any way you can. Our goal is to find a place for everyone.

As we approach our National Day of Service and Remembrance on Sept. 11, I’m asking you to jump in. Commit to serve. I’ll be out there, too, telling the folks at United Way of King County’s Day of Caring that I’ll go where I’m needed most.

Service can be as simple as asking a neighbor if they need help. And when you do that, you link your own life to this historic time. Washington’s resurgence will be the work of each and every volunteer who sets aside their own needs for the public interest, for relatives, or friends, or the stranger down the street.

There’s just one thing more I’d like to say.

Thank you.

Gov. Christine

Gregoire

For more about the governor’s schedule, go to www.governor.wa.gov/ or for information on the State Service Summit at the UW, go to www.seattleworks.org.

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