International Observance: Help Wanted On Service Day

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23: Serve a higher purpose today by taking action on Public Service Day, a UN initiative that promotes the value of public service. (Read more on the official UN site.) Nearly every religion lists service to others as a primary obligation, although many would likely agree that volunteers get as much as they give during hours of service!

Since 2003, the UN has been recognizing communities and community programs around the globe that help create a better society—and nominations for the UN’s awards have been growing in number every year. Today is the final day of the official 2010 celebration, held for the first time outside of UN headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. Attendees will take part in a forum based on this year’s theme, “The Role of Public Service in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Challenges and Best Practices.” In what has been deemed the “most prestigious international awards in public service,” programs from a wide variety of countries will be honored this year, ranging from the Women Friendly City Project in Korea to the Development of e-Education in Saudi Arabia to the Support Programme for Integrated and Sustainable Development of the Protected Environment Zone in Brazil. The term “public service” has come to encompass quite an umbrella of actions, so use your imagination when considering how you can help. (To find out how you can aid the UN’s mission, visit its volunteer site. Or, if you’re unsure of where you’d best fit, visit the UN’s Global Issues page.)

If you’re thinking that the work done in your community wouldn’t be significant enough to be recognized by the UN, think again—all public organizations and agencies at national and sub-national levels, public and private partnerships and organizations providing public service are eligible for nomination for the UN’s annual awards. (Find out more about who is eligible at Wikipedia.) UN officials work hard to alert world citizens of the necessity of public service, because they know that successful government is built on the foundation of competent civil service.

Recently, thousands of people have been asking how they can help eliminate the damage done by the BP oil spill. (More information, including how you can help, is in this USA Today article.) Although professionals are the only ones able to perform the skilled work of cleaning up the spill, hundreds more have been educating the public, volunteering to clean up wildlife affected by the spill, and donating to organizations like the National Wildlife Federation. (Check out what the NWF is doing for the oil spill cleanup on its site.)

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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