THE TRADITIONS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE and citizen participation have been at the heart of American civic culture since before the nation was founded. Historically, our greatest strength as a nation has been to be there for one another. Citizen participation has been the lifeblood of democracy. As Thomas Paine put it, "The highest calling of every individual in a democratic society is that of citizen!" Accidents of nature and abstract notions of improvement do not make our communities better or healthier places in which to live and work. They get better because people like you decide that they want to make a difference.
Volunteering is not a conservative or liberal, Democratic or Republican issue; caring and compassion simply help to define us as being human.
It is within our power to move beyond a disaster and economic crisis like the one that has engulfed New Orleans and to create new opportunities. What it comes down to is assuming personal responsibility. If we decide to become involved in voluntary efforts, we can restore idealism, realism, responsiveness, and vitality to our institutions and our communities.
At her memorial service, it was said of Eleanor Roosevelt, the most influential American woman of the twentieth century, that "she would rather light a candle than curse the darkness." What was true for her then is true for us now. The choice to make a difference is ours.
How to help those individuals and communities hurt by Hurricane Katrina through donations and volunteering.
The following organizations and groups that provide direct emergency assistance:
American Red Cross
(800) HELP NOW (435-7669) English; (800) 257-7575 Spanish
America"s Second Harvest
American Friends Service Committee
B'nai B'rith International
Catholic Charities, USA
Christian Disaster Response
Church World Service
Feed The Children
Lutheran Disaster Response
(800) 77-OXFAM or (617)482-1211
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Southern Baptist Disater Relief
Union For Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Jewish Communities
United Methodist Committee On Relief
Volunteers of America
YMCA of the USA
YWCA of the USA
(800) YWCA US1
The following organizations and groups provide direct or indirect assistance and/or advocate for policies and programs to assist victims or stricken communities. This is particularly important because of the failure of the federal government and this administration to provide leadership and competence before and during the disaster. Voluntary efforts should not be a substitute for government action, and advocacy groups must take the initiative to assure that the government fulfills its responsibility to the American people.
Campaign for America's Future
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Center for Health, Enviroment and Justice
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Children's Defense Fund
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Corporation for Supportive Housing
(212) 986-2966 ext. 500
Field Mobilization Departmentof the AFL-CIO
Habitat for Humanity
National Congress for Community Economic Development
(877) 44-NCCED or 202 289-9020
National Council of La Raza
National Neighborhood Coalition
National Urban League
National Mental Health Association
People for the American Way
In addition to contributing money, basic supplies and services; the
healthiest response for individuals is to volunteer to do community service in your own home town.
For a more complete in-depth list see: Make A Difference: America's Guide to Volunteering and Community Service by Arthur I. Blaustein (Jossey Bass/Wiley)
Please contribute to the health and vitality of our communities by sharing this list with as many people as possible.