April 22, 2002

City, C.U. Kick Off National Volunteer Week

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In front of a large banner urging passersby to “Volunteer Today,” members of the Ithaca community gathered on the Commons, last Friday afternoon to kick off the 29th annual National Volunteers Week.

The event, sponsored locally by the student-run, non-profit agency, On Site Volunteer Services OSVS), aims to involve students of Cornell, Ithaca College and citizens of the greater Ithaca area in community service.

“National Volunteer Week is really designed to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism and promote civic responsibility,” said Erin Brannan ’02, executive director of OSVS.

Brannan expressed her opinion that the world environment seems harried and therefore demands such participation.

Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 reinforced this notion in a proclamation, officially beginning the national celebration in the City of Ithaca.

Ithaca, “relies on volunteers to make the community work,” Cohen said. He added, on a personal note, that his own political career started with volunteering. Gradually, through this experience, he learned a great deal about the community and decided to take his activism and commitment to City Hall.

In addition, spokespeople for both president Hunter R. Rawlings III and Ithaca College president Peggy R. Williams stressed the vital role which community service plays in the lives of the area’s residents. In a prepared statement, Rawlings expressed Cornell’s particular attention to service with its founding as a private University but also a land grant institution with an explicitly public mission.

U.S. President Richard Nixon established the first National Volunteer Week by executive order in 1974, to recognize the achievements of various volunteer organizations across the country, according to OSVS. This year’s celebration, following its theme, “Celebrate the American Spirit-Volunteer” attempts to spotlight the role of volunteerism in this post-Sept. 11th society.

Throughout the week, OSVS anticipates about 300 student volunteers will participate in its various activities, according to the agency’s marketing director, Kyle Youngquist ’02. By integrating the activities of nearly 40 non-profit organizations in Ithaca and Tompkins County, the group provides these students a simple and easy way to volunteer their time in one-day activities.

This year’s hands-on projects range from pre-construction and grounds work to, a duck race.

Participants in this latter event will be able to purchase rubber ducks to race down Fall Creek. The owner of the first duck to reach the established finish line will receive a prize and all proceeds from duck sales will go to a selected charity.

Students interested in volunteering in any of the weeks events, or in various activities throughout the year, should contact On Site Volunteer Services through their website, www.osvs.org.

Archived article by Michael Dickstein