Today would have marked the 87th birthday of the charismatic yet remarkably humble community leader and one of my personal heroes, Cesar E. Chavez.
Here in the state of Colorado, we acknowledge his legacy by commemorating the day as both a state holiday and as a day to serve. We truly believe that service is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to social justice and serving others.
As a testament to his example of servant leadership, on Saturday, March 29, volunteers from our Colorado family joined together to commemorate his legacy with a day of hands-on service.
In September 2013, our neighbors in Lyons, CO, experienced a devastating flood that shut them off from the rest of our state for several days and resulted in millions of dollars in damages, as well as months of evacuation from their homes.
As Lyons and other communities rebuild, they are getting an important boost from volunteers and members of the national service AmeriCorps program. Over the weekend Regis University students; Foothills United Way employees; Metro Volunteers employees; AmeriCorps State, National, and NCCC members; and other wonderful volunteers brought together by Serve Colorado reached out to help Lyons re-establish their community.
These volunteers showed both how large their hearts are and the kind of grit that would make any Coloradan proud. They came dressed for a full day of hard work in the elements and were ready for what both the weather and our volunteer coordinator sent their way. After a long day of service a renewed sense of hope and connection had taken root amongst all involved.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, whose office houses the local AmeriCorps sponsor, Serve Colorado, came out to welcome the volunteers, “Cesar Chavez would be proud of the volunteers here today who embody the traits he valued most: the spirit of community service and commitment to helping those in need,” he said.
The sense of neighborhood and community is strong in Colorado – on Cesar Chavez Day and every day. Last year, more than 1.3 million Coloradans gave 160 million hours of service worth an estimated $3.5 billion to our state. Colorado’s 10,000 AmeriCorps andSenior Corps members play a key role in mobilizing this larger volunteer force and meeting critical needs – by helping children learn to read, supporting veterans and military families, preserving the environment, and much more.
Cesar Chavez, alongside his fellow community members, could often be heard chanting “Si Se Puede” or “Yes We Can/It Can Be Done.” The volunteers we served alongside were living proof that healing and new life could indeed be achieved when the force and goodwill of a whole community is working together to accomplish it.
Lindsay Dolce is Executive Director of Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service. Visit Serve Colorado to learn more about service initiatives in Colorado. Visit the Corporation for National and Community Service to learn more about national service opportunities in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.