DNCC, Local Volunteer Organizations Team Up
to Promote National Commitment to Service
DENVER - Building on its commitment to make service and active participation in the community a hallmark of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced today that Michelle Obama and Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter will co-chair the Democratic National Convention's Delegate Service Day, Wednesday, August 27. Through this effort, the DNCC will aim to inspire hundreds of thousands of Americans in a renewed commitment to service.
On August 27, the third day of Convention week, delegates from across the country will volunteer at dozens of community service projects in and around Denver, ranging from reading to children to park cleanup and tree care, to supporting projects that aid military families, an area of special focus for Michelle Obama. Delegate Service Day is the capstone to a year-long DNCC community service program, in which leadership and staff have contributed more than 650 hours to a variety of local projects.
"Barack and I have committed much of our lives to serving our communities, and throughout this campaign we've witnesses first hand the incredible change the American people can bring to the country when we work together for the common good. It's only fitting that we continue our focus on service at our Party's Convention in Denver," said Michelle Obama. "Not only will Delegate Service Day help give back to the city and the state hosting tens of thousands of Democrats, but it will send our delegates home with a renewed commitment to serving their communities and coming together as a nation to solve our great challenges. As Barack has often said, when ordinary people get together, we can do extraordinary things, and that's what will happen in Denver."
"It's an honor to join Michelle Obama, the DNCC and strong volunteer organizations from Colorado in this effort, which will make such a positive impact on our state," said Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter. "In my own experience, whether in Colorado or in Africa, I've learned that involvement in service strengthens communities by breaking down barriers. It's that spirit that Delegate Service Day will foster around this Convention - and one we hope delegates will carry home with them to their communities all across the country. Delegates are strong leaders within our Party, and we hope their work here in Colorado and beyond will help to inspire millions of Americans to lives of service so together we can find solutions to enduring problems."
Convention leaders said that Michelle Obama and Jeannie Ritter were natural choices to serve as the DNCC's Delegate Service Day co-chairs. In her early career, Michelle Obama worked as Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago. She later became the founding Executive Director of Public Allies - Chicago, a leadership development program that identifies and prepares talented young adults for careers serving the public good. In 1996, as Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, she developed the University's first community service program. Prior to her husband's presidential campaign, she was Vice President of Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Jeannie Ritter served a year in the Peace Corps, stationed in the North African country of Tunisia, where she helped build and open educational and vocational centers for people with disabilities. She returned to Africa with Gov. Ritter and their then-toddler son August in 1987 and spent the next three years running a food distribution and nutrition center as lay missionaries for the Catholic Church in Zambia. In addition to the food programs, Jeannie taught health education to the women in the community.
The DNCC is coordinating Denver-area service projects for Delegate Service Day in conjunction with Democrats Work, Metro Volunteers and Volunteers of America. Delegates who wish to learn more about the program and register for Delegate Service Day can visit www.demconvention.com/delegates2008/.
Looking to extend the initiative statewide, the DNCC is also asking each of its "Convention Captains" to organize service projects on August 27 in counties across Colorado.
Since arriving in Denver, DNCC leadership and staff have participated in monthly service projects, called "DNCC Service Days," focused on three areas of importance to the Denver community: youth, environmental projects and the combined issues of homelessness and hunger. To date, projects have included facilitating a soccer camp for local middle school students, constructing a home for a wounded Iraq war veteran and planting more than 400 trees in a Northwest Denver neighborhood in recognition of Earth Day. In December, the DNCC joined Jeannie Ritter in preparing a special holiday breakfast for homeless and runaway youth.
About the DNCC:
The 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee is the official arm of the Democratic National Committee responsible for planning and organizing the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. www.demconvention.com