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Celebrate America!

September 23, 2013
As we prepare to celebrate the 125th anniversary of DAR, Daughters across the world are uniting in service to their communities, states, and country to Celebrate America! It is our goal to encourage Daughters to celebrate America by giving a collective one million hours of service annually to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. While one million hours per year may seem like an overwhelming number, it actually breaks down to less than six hours of community service by each of our 175,000 members.  Obviously, some members are unable to participate, but the rest of us can and are already performing so many hours of volunteer service that our goal can be achieved! This is a marvelous opportunity to not only tell the DAR story through our service but to actually show how DAR gives back to America and to demonstrate our continued relevance as the largest women’s patriotic and service lineage organization in the world.  As Winston Churchill said:  “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  
 
No doubt you are already serving your community in many ways.  A few examples of service include: recycling, volunteering at a school, serving as a team Mom, at a library, church, scout troop, senior citizen group, serving veterans, causes such as breast cancer walks, serving on a board of a hospital, historical, cultural or homeowner’s association, presenting programs or awards at schools, participating in naturalization ceremonies, parades, bell ringings, mission trips, preserving cemeteries, offering genealogy workshops to the public and serving as a Senior leader in the C.A.R. 
 
Below are just a few examples of how members and chapters across the country are Celebrating America!
 
  • Virginia District VII Chapters co-host naturalization ceremonies for children and young adults at historic Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, the home of Rev. War patriot Col. William Preston, an Irish immigrant.
  • Five DAR chapters in Tennessee, along with a SAR chapter, participate in the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at UTC (Univ of TN Chattanooga) which is designed to equip veterans to start new businesses and run them successfully. Working with the VEP program gave the members a chance to see the veterans receive long term, hands on guidance for their future. Participants were shuttled from the airport, fed lunches from some of Chattanooga’s favorite restaurants and had friendly faces to visit with for the weeklong event.  This program showed positive results from people working toward a common goal as well as gave the chapters an opportunity to meet men and women from all branches of the service.
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  • A member in West Virginia volunteers with READS, an in-school program for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Bridgewater, MA.  While she typically provides supplemental instruction with students who wear hearing aids, cochlear implants, or both, she was recently challenged when assigned to a totally deaf and non-speaking student who read a story to her in sign language.  She reports it was a day she will never forget when she signed her appreciation to him for reading and his face lit up with a smile.
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  • A fairly new member in Pennsylvania uses her needlework skills to make framed cross stitch items, donates them to the DAR Service for Veterans Committee and with funds raised, has purchased 100 cup holders for wheelchairs at the local facilities.
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  • A division chair in Texas set a goal of a minimum number of  six service hours for each of the members of her division.  By setting a specific goal of hours, she has encouraged chapters to report their service hours and is thrilled that they have already exceeded their initial goal hours for this entire year! There is no stopping now, though, as they just keep adding more hours to their total!
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I encourage each and every one of you, whether through your chapter or as an individual, to set community service goals for yourself so that you may contribute to our collective membership challenge. We will be calculating the number of total membership volunteer hours for the period between January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Even though some of that time period came before the announcement of this committee challenge, the volunteer service that you performed is still very much valid to count toward our total hours for the year. 
 
Please report your estimated number of volunteer hours served since January 1, 2013. There is a PDF document located on the Celebrate America! Committee website which can be used as a tally form by individual members and/or chapters to record hours served this year. In October, we will launch an electronic tally system via the members’ website in which any member may enter online the number of hours they spend serving others and which chapter regents may use to compile the service for annual reports. 
 
Gather all of your estimated service hours now and we will let you know in October when you can go online and enter your past 9 months-worth of hours into the tally system. Going forward, you will then be able to enter your hours online immediately after you have completed them, or compile your weekly/monthly/etc. hours and enter them anytime it is convenient for you. Proof or documentation of your service hours is not required – we just want to hear how you are celebrating America wherever you live!
 
Members-At-Large are of course included in this challenge and will be able to enter their individual service hours in the online tally in the same manner as a member of a chapter. For those members in Units Overseas, you are encouraged to count the hours served in your communities and share those hours with your chapters.  Service hours do not have to be performed in the United States in order to count toward our total.
 
For more information about the Celebrate America! Committee and the one million service hour challenge, I encourage you to view the upcoming webinar on the topic taking place on September 25 from 1 – 1:30 pm Eastern time. You can register for the webinar here.
 
If you cannot attend the webinar for its initial airing, you may view a recorded version a few days later after the broadcast by going to the webinar archives on the Leadership Training Committee webpage.  All questions submitted during the webinar as well as responses will also be posted on this webpage.
 
Please also visit the Celebrate America! Committee webpage and feel free to contact the chairman with any questions you may have.
 
In addition to recording and reporting your hours, we want to hear stories and see photos of your volunteering activities. Please send stories and photos to DARCelebrateAmerica@gmail.com and we will begin featuring how  you are Celebrating America!

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Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.