National Day of Service/National Year of Service


“Ask not not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” proclaimed JFK at his inauguration.  I’ll lay odds that a similar message of service is spoken by Obama as he is sworn in.

As I listened to This American Life yesterday,  I realized how many hopes piled high on President Obama’s shoulders.  He’s going to collapse beneath the weight of unreasonable expectations.

Then I heard that he was joining with others to call for Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day to be a day of service.  In fact, he plans on calling on everybody to volunteer and serve more over the coming years.

Naive, though I may be, I think he’s not going to be able to help people without some assistance.   I’m not capable of halting wars, bolstering economies, or stopping global disruption but I can do a little extra so, today, my mom, my grandmother and my son cleaned about three quarters of a mile of Salmon Cr. road and we hope to do more over the next coming weeks.  We pulled three bags of trash (the vast majority came from beer bottles and cans!) from that short stretch.

Yes, I know its not much.  But imagine if each of us (approximately 300 million members of United States) donated a mere hour a month more than we usually do to helping each other how much we could accomplish. And, little bit of our road looks pristine and beautiful.  We made it happen.

Obama says, “I’m asking you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about real change…I’m asking you to believe in yours.”


PS My father took this picture and it is his fault we look this bad. We’re really beautiful people who look our best after scrambling through poison oak and picking up dirty diapers and half full bottles of beer.



  • Four generations living in hope for the future, together. Beautiful.

  • Perhaps I should start by cleaning my apartment? I will have to find some volunteer opportunity, though. Don’t think the trash thing is going to be it, though.

  • Awesome. You’re right, an hour spent volunteering counts, not just in the US, but all over the world. It can make a big difference.

  • It has been a long journey for improvements on civil rights and equality, and with Obama being sworn in, the civil rights movement have come full circle since the “I have a dream speech”. I hope Obama can concentrate on increasing jobs, advancing education, and the decreasing of our dependence on fossil fuels.

  • From outside the USA, there seems to be a renewal of the true America. Not the one we have seen disgracing itself for the past eight years. I wish Barack well and I wish all Americans well in this new time of hope.

    Go the young people!

  • A day of service is a wonderful idea. Wish I had heard about it (and was well enough) to have done something yesterday. But that doesn’t need to stop me from doing something in the future.

  • Thank you for inspiring me as I declare that everyday is a day of service for me as I head to the grocery store for my elderly neighbor who cannot get out. This day is the beginning of a new and exciting time for all of us. Why is it that Aunt Myrna never seems to age? I only pray that I age as gracefully as her. Hugs to you…

  • I love the photo and the sentiment

    (your hair is beautiful)

  • I’m giving you an award, Kym – check it out!

    That is so cool that four generations of your family went out to do volunteer work in service of our soon to be great again country. I like what you said in your comment on my post – “We’re ready for a clean start!” We certainly are. 🙂

  • wahoo! more litter elfs to the human roadsides! thanks for joining up. as a “temple-sweep” of briceland road i know it is amazing how much people throw out, and it is a never ending job. i must remark that the first week out i found two twenties and thought this was a good sign. two years later i found a hundred. besides the unexpected material rewards, the aesthetic benefit to all is clear. what is sad is all the debris just out of sight down embankments…we elves know that there are more homo sapiens than homo nestus foulus on the planet, but it does not make it any easier to co-exist with the oblivious defilers of the land.
    thanks for your service and role model kym…
    never under-estimate what one litter elf can do!

  • i agree one person can’t do it. we all have to pitch in somehow, somewhere. just once or all the time. but we have to. thank you for four generations worth of it…

  • yes, every bit counts! I love that photo – and your description of it. 🙂 I cleaned up trash for Adopt-a-Highway with my sister once .. could not believe the stuff people threw out their car windows. It made me even more determined to never litter.

  • The best part is it was fun, too!

    (one litter elf, you’re not the only one who’s found money while picking up trash! Though we didn’t find any this time. )

  • Sande – Thanks for the compliments and kudos to you for being there for your neighbor. I’m sure she appreciates it far more than you know.

    Kym- “But imagine if each of us (approximately 300 million members of United States) donated a mere hour a month more than we usually do to helping each other how much we could accomplish”
    ….and if those who choose to toss their trash along side the roads were to choose not to do that, imagine how much time and money could be saved and used for other services. It is such a little thing to carry a litter bag in your car and use it and it would make such a difference.

  • That family portrait could be a poster for volunteer recruitment! Or maybe a local version of “this section kept clean by…..” sign. You ALL look radiant.

    I have the same sentiment about all the expectations on the new president, Kym. And he himself keeps turning the spotlight back on the rest of us. Any real change in society percolates up from the masses, and our elected officials sanction it only after pressure demands it. You’re giving your son an excellent education in civics and ecology.

    mjean1, I wonder if those litterbugs have wives who check the vehicle for empties when they get home… Anyway, I think the redemption value of a cleaned-up-off-the-road bottle should be tripled.

  • Kato, Those bottles and cans redemption values are tripled in a way. My parents donate them to Community Cornerstone, an organization that provides help for adults with disabilities in Redway. Thus, another service opportunity seen and filled by my rather nice parents;>

  • Good for your family, Kym!

    We talked about it, but didn’t motivate until today. We are going to work on the community garden at the church all of Thursday afternoon. The past year, that garden supplied 3,000 lbs of organic veggies to needy local families, and there was still plenty left to have a harvest feast at church. We came along just in time for harvest this year, but I’m glad we get to help for the coming year.

    Thanks for the good idea of donating our recycling to some worthy cause.

  • Indie, as with so many of “my” good ideas, it comes from my parents.

    Max, hugs back.

  • Great job!

    President Obama (ain’t it fun to type/say that?) motivated us during his campaign to pitch in and help where we can. My partner and I are now committed to pickup one bucket of litter each every week.

    Kym you are so right when you declare this as a “fun” task! It’s really quite easy to head out on Saturday or Sunday for 15-30 minutes, get some fresh air and excercise and help clean up the earth. If you do choose this type of a call to service in the future we’d love to have you email us a couple pictures and/or story about your adventure.

    Please take a look at our blog, we post weekly and hope to motivate others around the world to pitch in and join the fun 🙂

    Happy Day,


  • great idea…are you saying we can take recyclable bottles and cans directly to community cornerstone?

  • Ben, I did look at your blog and I love the idea! I’ll be back to check you out again.

    Litter Elf, that was my understanding but I’ve never done it myself. I’ll try to find out and pop it into the comments here tomorrow.

  • yes, the community cornerstone does take the money making recyclables… cans, bottles, clear plastic and all glass. not milk jugs. i believe that you can drive in behind if the gate is open.

  • Whoops, I forgot to find that out and post it. Thank you!

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