Friday, September 11, 2009

Day of Service

Although this is a blog about writers and writing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t use my day this week – September 11th – to say something about the new National Day of Service here in the States. Obviously it commemorates the events of 9/11/2001, but it’s a mistake to assume that this is just another day to wave the flag and make tough speeches. I’m sure people will do those things, but that’s not what this is all about. Don’t worry, I’m not going to soapbox you about our sacred obligation to do this or save that – I have neither the writing chops nor the moral high ground to pull it off. I could reprint President Obama’s letter on the subject, but for such a brilliant speaker and amazing writer, it’s rather flat and uninspiring. Instead, I want to tell you about the Day of Caring they give us here at the ad agency.

Once a year, every employee of Dixon Schwabl can take a paid day off to do volunteer work at a not-for-profit of their choice here in Rochester. The owners don’t have to do this – it cost money, creates scheduling headaches and can mess up even this smooth running machine. But they do it anyway. And – trust me – they get kindda angry (for them) when people don’t use their day. Imagine the impact that 80 hyper-creative people can have, even for one day. It’s no wonder the owners are excited to hear where we put in out time. They add 640 hours of service to our community – the equivalent of 16 weeks of full-time labor – just because they think it’s important. And people ask me why I love the place I work.

This year as in years past, I will be spending my Day of Caring volunteering at the Ontario ARC, an organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities and brain injuries in Ontario County live full, active and productive lives. I like to participate in their College Experience Program – check it out here – but am always happy to help in any way I can.

This Day of Service is and is not an American thing. It is in that it’s part of some US legislation, and it isn’t since we certainly have no monopoly on community service and passionate volunteerism. So wherever you are, I encourage you to participate in your own day(s) of caring. You don’t need an act of congress to do the right thing.

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