n Igor Limansky volunteered for and then worked as a field organizer for the Obama campaign. He is now volunteering to help organize the National Day of Service on Jan. 19. Visit USAService.org to learn about local service opportunities.n
January 19 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday—which usually means sleeping in, skiing, shopping and movie. Why a National Day of Service?
nWe have the opportunity to give our attention to something else besides our own personal concerns that usually take up most of our time. People can get out there and get together with other likeminded folks who want to help out in their communities. It is also a good way to honor the legacy of a great American who made service an important part of his life and inspired others to do the same.
Wouldn’t people better off putting in extra time at work to protect their jobs?
nI think everyone feels the effects of the economic crisis—whether we lost money in the stock market, have a brother or a sister who can’t find a job or are just scared every time we hear an update on the news. We can sit and worry feeling helpless wondering if we will still have a job tomorrow or we can decide that we have more to offer ourselves than fear and apathy. Service gives you a good perspective on how fortunate most of us really are and how much we can get done when we work together.
Why is Obama cashing in on it?
nObama won the election because he had people willing to spend days, weeks and even months volunteering their time for something they believed in. Together, they did what some thought was impossible and elected him president. It is not like he can pull this country out of the slump it is in alone. He needs all of us to pitch in.
What are a few local service opportunities?
nThe Road Home needs volunteers to help at the shelter, on the 19th as well as all the time. At the LDS Humanitarian Center, volunteers will be assembling hygiene, newborn, or school kits to be distributed to orphanages, homeless shelters, medical facilities, and schools particularly in developing countries or during disaster areas. Habitat for Humanity has two events: on the 16th, prepping three lots for foundations for new houses in Magna and on the 19th doing demolition in Ogden. The hope is that people find groups and projects that they enjoy helping out in. I would like this to be more then just one weekend of volunteering; hopefully, it will be a shift in how we view our free time and our responsibilities in our community (more at USAService.org).
Are any lawmakers stepping up, seeing as they no longer open the legislative session on MLK Jr. Day?
nThe only lawmaker I have spoken to is Rep. David Litvack [D-Salt Lake City] of District 26. He has given us an open line to ask questions about how we can make use our community networks into something that could have an effect on the legislative level.
What did you do for the Obama campaign?
nEarly on, I spent most of my time registering people to vote at the Gallivan Center Concerts and the Farmers Markets as a volunteer. As well, I was one of the many who went to Grand Junction, Colo., to canvass. I got hired on to go to Pueblo, Colo., as a field organizer, which mainly involved training and finding housing for all the out-of-state volunteers—about 200 by the end of my time there. I also did work with the Veterans for Obama contingency in Pueblo, organizing phone banks and canvasses.
The Day of Service has been something I have been helping to coordinate as a volunteer. I believe in Obama’s vision of an America that unites people across the lines that typically divide us. I believe we can work together as one nation with a common goal of improving our communities.n
Where will you be serving?
nAt the Habitat for Humanity project on the 16th. I am calling all my friends and making it into a project we can all go do together. I have found most of my friends are excited about getting involved—they just need a little encouragement. I hope service work becomes a real option for people looking something to do with their friends on a Saturday. I know something like that won’t happen overnight but the Day of Service is a good start.