FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS REMARKS AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON VOLUNTEERING AND SERVICE OPENING SESSION
Mayor's NYC Service Program is Bringing Together New Yorkers who want to Give Back to Address Pressing Local Challenges
Cities of Service Coalition Brings Mayor's from Across the County into Service Movement; 100 Cities now in the Nationwide, Bipartisan Coalition
The Following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Remarks as Prepared for Delivery at the Opening Session of the Conference at Radio City Music Hall
"That's right. Take it from me. New York City will always stand by you. I'm Mayor Mike Bloomberg. And I am so glad you are here in the heart of the city, at Radio City, in what we humbly call 'The World's Greatest City.'
"We are so excited to have the conference in New York. Are you having a good time? You know, they didn't ask me to sing with the amazing PS 22 today. They didn't ask me to join a kick line with the amazing Al Roker. I'm here for another reason. I'm here to simply tell you that taking care of each other is something we've always done in this town.
"We can't help it. Whenever and wherever there's a need, New Yorkers feel the need to help and this tradition of civic responsibility stretches back centuries. After all, this city is where the nation's first public hospital was founded, it's where the NAACP was established more than 100 years ago and where other outstanding organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Harlem Children's Zone and the After School Corporation have made their home.
"The bottom line is, service is part of our identity. It's in our DNA. Individual citizens doing whatever they can to help. Teams of New Yorkers working together, no matter where they came from. But the story of service in this City is not a cartoon, and it's not fiction. It's very real. In fact, it really defines us.
"So when President Obama called for a new era of service in our nation, we knew we had to step up. In my annual State of the City speech 17 months ago, I committed to coming up with a new model for how we can use volunteers to our greatest advantage - especially in these tough economic times. The result was NYC Service - the first coordinated effort by any American city to channel volunteers to meet local needs.
"It's been barely a year since NYC Service has been in full swing, but our volunteers have already made a huge difference, serving our city in meaningful ways and helping us pull through some extremely tough times.
"They've trained 51,000 New Yorkers in CPR, helped us administer 160,000 H1N1 vaccinations, educated 4,400 students on emergency preparedness, sent 3,400 care packages to New Yorkers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and painted 225,000 square feet of rooftop with reflective paint to help buildings lower their energy costs.
"And at the heart of this success is the NYC Civic Corps. This is a group of specially trained Americorps VISTA members who've been deployed to more than 50 non-profits and public agencies. In total, they've helped recruit 60,000 new volunteers, who in turn have touched the lives of more than 700,000 people. And we're about to add six thousand more to that number.
"The Civic Corps has also helped recruit volunteer fitness instructors to provide 222 weekly free fitness classes in neighborhoods with high rates of obesity - part of our 'Shape Up New York' Program. Thank you, Cathe Thompson, Amanda Young, Mario Green and Gerren Liles from Equinox Fitness.
"Now, when we launched NYC Service last year, something exciting started to happen: We began hearing from cities and nonprofits across the country that we should share our model with other cities. So we invited some mayors to a summit in New York last September and 16 of them, from cities coast to coast, attended - the inaugural members of a new coalition: Cities of Service.
"We all signed a pledge to work together to make service a priority in each of our cities. It makes perfect sense. In the chain of elected officials, mayors are close to the ground. We are the ones who are held accountable for keeping the streets safe, collecting the garbage, and providing the municipal services people depend on, day in and day out. We are the ones who have to spot the problems and then bring people together to solve them. And we're in a great position to mobilize people behind certain issues. A mayor says something - and people immediately respond. Right, kids? Okay, not always kids.
"But just imagine for one moment how different America could be if local governments - big and small cities everywhere - routinely engaged their citizens in solving problems in their communities. That's a goal I have. It's a goal many other mayors share. In fact, today Cities of Service has grown from just 17 members to 100 and together we represent more than 46 million Americans.
"One of the smartest things we did under NYC Service is hire the nation's first 'chief service officer' - the fantastic Diane Billings-Burford. Diane's job is to bring the same kind of accountability we demand from our sanitation department or police department to the area of service.
"We feel Diane's role is so integral to our efforts that we started the Cities of Service Leadership Grants program. It's a competitive grants program to fund the hiring of Chief Service Officers in other cities. Through the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation, we've distributed the money to hire 10 Chief Service Officers across the country for two years.
"I'm happy to say that the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies have agreed to award funding so that 10 more cities can hire their own chief service officers. We'll announce the name of those 10 deserving towns at a press conference on Wednesday.
"We're all together in this. It's six thousand of you out there, plus so many more across this country. Not to mention 8.4 million New Yorkers who are right there, too. As I said before, whatever we can do to help - we will do. We'll definitely stand by you. Thank you, P.S. 22, Al Roker, CSOs, Equinox, and everyone here today."
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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