Friday, September 7, 2012

“I Will” Movement Comes to Maine

Nationally, 33 million joined movement last year

The Maine Commission for Community Service invited area citizens this week to join the 9/11 tribute movement called “I Will” to commemorate this relatively new National Day of Service and Remembrance.  Organized nationally by My Good Deed, a foundation started by family members of 9/11 victims and first responders, “I Will” calls on each citizen to pay tribute to those remembered on 9/11 by performing a good deed, a personal act of service, an act of “neighboring.”
Maryalice Crofton, executive director of MCCS, said the tribute movement was a way to honor those who died on 9/11 and also to begin to look at the day in a positive light, somehow.
“Families spent ten years to get 9/11 as a day of service and remembrance,” Crofton said. “In 2009, it finally happened as part of the Serve America Act passed by Congress.” The act reauthorized the American service programs, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and affirmed all the national days of service including the new one, she said.
This is the second year in a row that Maine has participated in the national campaign.
“People design or pick out their own way of remembering,” Crofton said. “Some of the things people did last year: there were a couple of classrooms who wrote letters to active military stationed overseas, some people collected food for a food bank, some helped out neighbors who didn’t have family close by. It’s a wide range of things to do. It’s called neighboring. And it gives an opportunity to let folks highlight what they do.”
“Neighboring is the informal volunteering we do to help out in the community,” said Pam Zeutenhorst, the Commission’s coordinator for volunteer sector initiatives. “It is the food we bring to a sick neighbor, the community drive to refurnish a family whose house burned, and the citizen who keeps an eye on seasonal camps for their owners during the winter.”
The MCCS has registered Maine's “I Will” tribute as a single, statewide project with the national movement. Each citizen wishing to participate decides what personal act of service will be the tribute to 9/11 victims and first responders and then registers the pledge of service at by September 11.
Zeutenhorst noted that neighboring complements formal volunteering. Both connect residents to each other, make communities stronger, and foster mutual respect and responsibility. In rural, under-resourced communities throughout Maine, neighboring and formal volunteering flourish side-by-side, tackling serious local needs.
Schools, clubs, town councils, faith communities, and fraternal organizations can organize a “pledge drive” among their members. Posters and pledge cards with instructions on how to participate are available from the Commission. Group leaders can obtain these at no cost by emailing or calling 207-624-7792 during business hours.
All Maine pledges of service recorded at will be bundled and reported to the national organizers by September 15. Last year, through the efforts of the “I Will” campaign, thirty-three million people observed 9/11 by engaging in charitable activities that ranged from simple good deeds to organized volunteer work. The results far exceeded the national organizers’ hopes for ten million people undertaking volunteer activity. For more information and pledge registration details, visit