Honoring Their Service with Ours
This blog post was written by Amanda Yamaguchi, an intern at Be the Change.
September 11th is a National Day of Service and Remembrance, a time to honor and remember victims, survivors, those that rose up in service, and those that provide military service. Across the nation, individuals and organizations will engage in acts of service to honor and remember the fateful day in our nation’s history. In addition to engaging in acts of service, organizations are providing countless opportunities for citizens to actively participate in service projects.
Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In partnership with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, and the support of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, they are organizing to build a playground for military children at Fort Meade.
In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. KaBOOM!’s founder, Darell Hammond recognized that, today, children spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, which is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. KaBOOM!’s mission is to create a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta joined volunteers from KaBOOM!, Northrop Grumman, the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council, and Blue Star Families to build a new playground at Fort Meade’s Burba Park as part of the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. The project also involves Operation Honor Cards, a Blue Star Families initiative to encourage Americans to perform service in honor of military families, veterans, and service members.
The new playground will provide hundreds of children from military families with a safe place to play. The Burba Park playground is the first built by KaBOOM! and Northrop Grumman is one of more than 150 playground builds KaBOOM! will lead across the country in 2011. The playground project is also the first of more than 60 playground builds KaBOOM! will lead during the remainder of 2011 in which more than 10,000 volunteers across the country will donate their service in honor of military families, veterans, and service members.
Operation Honor Cards is the joint project of Blue Star Families, the American Red Cross, and ServiceNation: Mission Serve, run cooperatively with the Corporation for Nationaland Community Service and the Department of Defense. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also agreed to support this initiative by sharing information related to our honor cards with their various Veterans Service Organizations whose members volunteer at VA’s medical centers. The program aims to create an atmosphere of ‘shared service’ and a WWII sense of ‘all give some’ by encouraging Americans to perform service in honor of military families and veterans.
The program has already collected pledges of more than nine million hours of service from organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Office of Volunteerism, Old Dominion University, Operation Gratitude, Lions Clubs International, Mission Continues, Kaboom, Habitat for Humanity International, Blue Shield of California, Excel Energy, JP Morgan Chase, Town of Independence Kansas, Code of Support, Service Nation, Points of Light, USO and the American Red Cross. The physical card collection portion of the program will culminate on or before 11/11/11 with ‘Honor Walls’ of pledge cards displayed in Washington, military bases, and other public venues.
It is important that organizations embrace the model of collaboration that Blue Star Families, ServiceNation, and KaBOOM! represent. Service opportunities provide effective and efficient problem-solving strategies to issues that plague our communities.