“We want a society founded on service.” Eugenia Washington set the tone for DAR right at the start. And, she would probably be smiling now seeing just how far we have come! But, I dare say, she would be challenging us to reach deep within ourselves as there is still much for us to do.
Looking back on the past six months, DAR members have overwhelmingly embraced the service initiative put forth by the Celebrate America! Committee with astounding results. Members have also submitted more than five hundred messages and photos to the DARCelebrateAmerica@gmail.com email address. These members have described in detail with words and images just how members are honoring their heritage in communities all over the world. While communities benefit by what we do, DAR members also benefit in more ways than we can possibly describe. We are touched. We grow personally. We become more aware of just how relevant and vibrant our organization is in today’s world. Chapters are united and enthusiastic in their service. By sharing our stories, we may just engage others in ways they could not have imagined!
During 2013, more than 200,405 Online Tally entries representing all state societies including the Units Overseas were made. This represents 75% of all chapters and more than 3,419,595 hours of community service! Members have served in areas such as historic preservation, education, patriotism, literacy, conservation, veterans, youth, women’s issues, church, hospitals/health organizations, etc. The final 2013 hour total is still being compiled as state chairs are currently reviewing chapter Master Questionnaire responses which will certainly increase the Online Tally totals. Suffice it to say, we will be celebrating your achievements during Continental Congress!
As you know, the initial goal of this committee was to encourage our membership to give 1 million hours of service to our communities each year as a means of celebrating America. Less than 2 months after the launch of the Online Tally, we reached that goal in early December. In fact, the membership has been so responsive that we tripled the goal before all the reporting of 2013 hours was complete!
Obviously, we underestimated the unselfish service DAR members are doing throughout the world. With that in mind, I realized our initial goal was perhaps a tad too low. I know that DAR members care about their communities in many ways – veterans, education, historic preservation, conservation, and so on. Therefore, the goal of the Celebrate America! Committee for the remainder of this administration is to volunteer a collective 10 million hours of service to our communities over the course of three years! Can we do it? I believe we can! It is up to the membership, however, to determine how and when that is done.
It is up to each one of us to continue to tell the DAR Story by what we do and how we do it. We need to continue to honor our heritage through meaningful service to our communities. We need to continue to show how the NSDAR is more relevant today than ever! We can show that with each hour of service that we perform.
As with any new project, there are bound to be adjustments and refinements. Perhaps the most often asked question pertains to what is meant by “meaningful community service.” The intent of Celebrate America! Committee is to encourage outward expressions of volunteerism for the benefit of our communities as a way of honoring our heritage. This service is not intended to benefit our DAR chapters and organization, not our families, not ourselves. Please take the time to review this information about meaningful community service. There have also been a few small updates to the Online Tally. We think these improvements will help make entering hours even easier for members.
I hope each of you have begun your community service projects for 2014, and are making plans for activities for the rest of the year. Be sure to enter these activities on the Online Tally. It fascinates me to watch the 2014 Celebrate America! Ticker on the Members’ Website as the hours change so quickly. I shall look forward to watching it climb just as it did last year.
Thank you for all that you do to Celebrate America! Your enthusiastic response to this service challenge initiative is phenomenal. Most importantly, our communities benefit by what we do. DAR is relevant today -- and will continue to be relevant tomorrow. Truly, your service is your gift to our nation. Here’s to 10 million hours of meaningful community service!