Boston Readies For Sept. 11 'Day Of Service'


Sept. 7, 2011

By Jordan Weinstein

BOSTON — Just five months before his death, in March of 2009, a federal bill reauthorizing and expanding the AmeriCorps program was renamed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

BostonCares volunteers pose at a job site. (BostonCares)

In what may be one of history's great ironies, the legislation was sponsored by longtime Kennedy nemesis Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah in Kennedy's honor. The statute designated September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance with funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Sherry McClintock is the corporation's program director for Massachusetts. "Basically the national day of remembrance and service was passed into law in 2009 and it's a day to remember the events and those that were lost on that day. Our role is to help communities bring people together and to network," McClintock said.

Patrice Keegan, the executive director of BostonCares, said all of the volunteering sites will have a rememberance component.

"It's not just that you're serving, but will take time to reflect on the fact that this is not just the tenth anniversary of the attacks," Keegan said. "We have a national day of service and remembrance now that was codified through the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act. So it's an opportunity for people not just to serve but to reflect and serve. "

Keegan says the focus this year is on Boston and, especially, its children. "A big project that we'll be doing with about 150 volunteers on September 11 is we will be preparing almost 2,100 donated schoolbooks — library books — that are right off the reading list for Boston public school libraries for little kids. Ten books for each of the 206 people from Massachusetts who were lost."

To accommodate an unprecedented surge in volunteers, BostonCares has created 3,000 additional service opportunities for the entire month of September. Looking forward, Keegan said there's no reason for this tenth anniversary to be simply a one-off event. "I'm very committed to doing what we can do to really reveal that we've got this national opportunity here. This can be a new tradition of service. And whether it's the thirteenth or the thirtieth anniversary, any year is a good year to get involved in our communities," Keegan said.

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