Answering Obama’s Call to Serve

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Catherine with Marlowe Kirk, a rescue dog_6177629631130978050
I received an email from President Obama this week. (OK, it was the White House E-newsletter sent to all who sign up to receive it.) Hey, I like to be informed.

The President asked me, and all Americans, to join his new initiative: United We Serve – a nationwide call to service to help strengthen communities throughout the U.S. through volunteering and community improvement initiatives.

Count me in.

There is no better way for Americans to show our patriotism and learn about the character of our communities and the neighbors that we live, work, and are connected with, than to help those among us in need.

In rough financial times, nonprofits and charities suffer greatly as donations decrease. They need all the help they can get. Whether it be money, time or skills … there are a myriad of ways to make a difference in your community.

The Twin Tiers is chock full of organizations that could use a helping hand, and they’re not all just looking for monetary support.

* Friends of the Chemung River Watershed, Inc. is a new organization with the mission to preserve and promote the Chemung River. While the fledgling not-for-profit could definitely use financial support, much of the group’s work involves river clean-up, education about the river’s history and ecological importance, as well as promotion of safe, responsible use of the river for recreations. Visit the River Friends’ website or call (607) 846-2242 to learn more about the group and opportunities to volunteer.

* Food Bank of the Southern Tier offers several ways to help neighbors in need. Do you enjoy gardening? How about planting a row of healthy veggies and/or fruits, and donating the produce to the food bank? Visit the website or call the helpline number, 211, for information on ways you can help those in our community suffering from hunger.

* One of my favorite causes is the Chemung County Humane Society and S.P.C.A. I’ve had pets all my life, and I’m determined to be a voice for those that can’t speak for themselves. The animal shelter has numerous volunteer opportunities. Those who are thinking about adopting a dog might want to volunteer to walk a dog. The S.P.C.A. has plenty of willing pooches. Maybe you’d like a little kitty companionship instead. Try being a foster parent to help with an overcrowded cat room. Got allergies? Visit the S.P.C.A. website and check out the Wish List, where you can find what items the shelter needs such as blankets, cleaning supplies, hot dogs, etc.
There are several other animal shelters and safety organizations throughout the Twin Tiers, including A Voice for All Animals in Chemung, N.Y.; Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, the Horseheads and Elmira animal shelters, and Four Paws in Millerton, Pa. Find one in your area and give voice to the voiceless.

The American Red Cross, Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum, Goodies for Our Troops, and the American Cancer Society are just a few of the worthy organizations that could use volunteers.

Senior citizens interested in volunteering can contact RSVP of Chemung County, an organization born out of the devastating 1972 flood, is a “one-stop-shopping” volunteer program for those age 55 and older who are looking to contribute to their community.

Even carrying a plastic bag with you to pick up trash along your walk is a big improvement to our Twin Tiers neighborhoods. These can also be teaching moments for you and your children.

My understanding is that Sept. 11 will be the culmination of the nationwide service initiative. Although I suspect that once folks start volunteering they’ll feel so good that it will only inspire more altruism.

Visit to learn more about the government’s initiative. Then find a way to contribute to your community. It will enrich your life in so many ways.

Stuff to do:

* One fulfilling way to serve your country is to help the Goodies for Our Troops organization, which will be assembling care packages to send to area servicemen and women stationed around the globe, from 1 to 4 p.m. today (June 28) at Park Hill Manor in Wellsboro.

* Get tested. Free STD/HIV testing takes place weekly from 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays, and 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays at the Chemung County Health Dept. on Washington Street in Elmira.

* Learn about area history when the Twain Country Trolley Tours kick off guided tours aboard “The Elmiran” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 1 at Holiday Inn Riverview, 760 E. Water St. in Elmira. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the trolley tours historic sites in Elmira, including Mark Twain’s study, Woodlawn Cemetery, and the Arnot Art Museum, to name a few. The final tour at 2 p.m. will explore Chemung County’s rich aviation history with a visit to Harris Hill. Tickets are $4 for adults, $2 for age 12 and under, and are available at the Holiday Inn reservation desk.

* The Spinners will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 2 at Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. Tickets are $10 Grandstands, $15 Apron.

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