9/11 Tribute Through Service Concept Paper
To celebrate civic engagement and personal sacrifice on the 10th anniversary of September 11th, the City of New Orleans will be launching a 9/11 Tribute Through Service initiative. The initiative offers residents the opportunity to thank first responders through direct service with commemorative activities that are accessible to all.
As a municipality, the City of New Orleans has unique strengths including designated leadership, widespread visibility, and specialized information. Not only did we draw upon these strengths to develop a locally relevant strategy, but we will also leverage those strengths for the successful implementation of our 9/11 Tribute Through Service initiative.
In 2010, the new administration conducted a thorough landscape analysis to identify citywide needs. The landscape analysis included extensive resident input and found blight and public safety, among other issues, to be top priorities. Based on these findings, the service projects developed for the Tribute Through Service initiative address blight through beautification, and safety through relationship building between residents and first responders. Those who participate in the initiative will have the opportunity to select from a pool of 17 commemorative service activities that are accessible to a wide spectrum of abilities and availability.
As a coalition member of Cities of Service, New Orleans has a Chief Service Officer designated to direct resources from the office of ServeNOLA with the aim of promoting high impact volunteerism. New Orleans’ Chief Service Officer is financed through general municipal funds. The office of ServeNOLA will exercise strong leadership and oversight to orchestrate and measure the 9/11 Tribute through Service initiative.
The City of New Orleans knows that it is not in the business of managing volunteer projects. Instead, the City will utilize its knowledge of volunteer managers, school service clubs and civic groups throughout the city. We will call upon their expertise, connecting volunteers with project leaders and project leaders with first responders.
Finally, we believe that our initiative will achieve momentum through coordinated public outreach and the influence of Mayoral backing.
Our 9/11 Tribute Through Service strategy is to identify and connect interested individuals and groups with first responders and to encourage meaningful service activities that directly touch first responders. By leveraging municipal resources to execute this initiative, the City of New Orleans expects to engage at least 500 volunteers.
The Department of Homeland security has provided ServeNOLA with contact information for groups of local first responders who are interested in participating in the initiative. Interested organizations, individuals, and groups will be directed to contact ServeNOLA. After stating their commitment to serve, interested parties will receive contact information for a first responder agency and a description of recommended commemorative service activities.
To encourage those with big ideas and limited resources, ServeNOLA will give groups or organizations the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $300 to reimburse their service activity. Ten awards will be made to groups with proposals that prioritize volunteer engagement and meaningful service.
The City of New Orleans has a two pronged approach to promoting participation in our initiative. The initial call to serve will come from Mayor Mitch Landrieu in an address to the city. Because of his visibility, the Mayor’s request will facilitate widespread awareness of and desire to be involved in the initiative.
The second phase of promotion will be coordinated by ServeNOLA and will reach schools, volunteer organizations, and civic groups. ServeNOLA has a current database of more than 300 volunteer organizations and schools including viable contact information. From this information we will orchestrate a series of email blasts that contain information about how to get involved. To spread the word further, ServeNOLA will collaborate with another Mayoral office, the Office of Neighborhood Engagement, whose employees have on the ground connections with civic organizations representing residents from every district of New Orleans. ServeNOLA will give personnel from the Office of Neighborhood Engagement information about the initiative to share with neighborhood organizations that often reach residents who may not have access to email.
The service projects that ServeNOLA will recommend were strategically developed to meaningfully recognize first responders and address critical city needs.
Blight and public safety are salient concerns for the citizens of New Orleans. A few of our service projects reduce blight, but all of them will help to improve safety. By positioning volunteers to interact with first responders and thank them for their sacrifices, our volunteer projects will foster positive and trusting relations. In turn, these relationships will facilitate the cooperative spirit vital to safe neighborhoods.
Our volunteers will be doing activities ranging from writing thank you notes, to delivering baked goods, to painting a police station or planting flowers outside a firehouse.
We expect to connect at least 20 volunteer groups to 20 first responder agencies. We expect our non-profit and civic association partners to include: Rebuilding Together New Orleans, HandsOn New Orleans, Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, Broadmoor Improvement Association, Sustain the Nine, Gentilly Civic Improvement Association, Tulane University Center for Public Service
Hike for Katreena, Tulane School of Public Health, Apex Youth Center and Beacon of Hope Resource Center.
Personnel from ServeNOLA will be dedicated to measuring volunteer participation. The number of volunteers, service activity, hours, and monetary value of volunteer hours will be recorded on a spreadsheet. Unless funding is provided, participation will be verbally confirmed. Groups that are awarded grant money will be required to submit documentation of their work including confirmation of volunteer numbers.
The City of New Orleans is dedicated to promoting volunteerism. We intend to continue to use our 9/11 Tribute Through Service strategy as a model for subsequent national days of service in upcoming months and years.