City Gate Community Day - Serve Salute and Celebrate


            City Gate, Inc. is organizing participants from the schools, community organizations, churches and various partners we work with in metroWashington,DC, for a unified day of service on Saturday, 9/10, in underserved DC neighborhoods.  We currently work with students at various DCPS elementary schools in these neighborhoods (Randle Highlands, Beers, Ketchum, Hendley, Savoy, Drew, Marie Reed); neighborhood churches such as St. Thomas More, Paramount, and a dozen other city and suburban churches; service organizations such as Victory Youth Center, Capital Area Food Bank, Hopefinders, etc.; and private (Winn Residential, VestA Corp.) or government-administered (DC Housing Authority) public housing complexes.

City Gate is inviting the above organizations and others to participate in the new National Day of Service marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11 by mobilizing 1000 volunteers to SERVE community needs, SALUTE the heroes and remember those who were lost on 9/11/2001, and CELEBRATE the spirit and unity that makes our nation great. This gathering in our nation’s capital will not occur on the Mall or among the monuments on the banks of thePotomac. We will come together “East of the River” to share help and hope in the neighborhoods beyond the Anacostia where the needs are the greatest. Our purpose will be to remember and rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that bonded our nation as one on 9/11.  This day of service will be spelled by the ABCs of diversity – different ages and addresses, different backgrounds and beliefs, different cultures and colors. We envision 1000 volunteers – from city and suburb, children and seniors, a cross-section of society – working side-by-side to honor the past and herald a future of hope.  

Volunteers will deploy to three central sites in the Lincoln Heights, Randle Highlands, and Washington Highlands neighborhoods  (stretching from upper NE to far SE neighborhoods “east of the river”)for distribution of used clothing, books, and school supplies with a target of distributing 10,000 items to families with these needs. Items will have been collected in advance, with additional donations also accepted at the sites. Donors and recipients alike will be able to help with the distribution project, or with a nearby neighborhood or park clean-up or other service project. 

             This network of service projects, performed by volunteers reflecting the diversity of our nation, will visibly celebrate the grassroots relationships already in place or developing in metropolitanWashington. It will not only honor the lessons and unity that emerged in the wake of 9/11, but will empower in 2011 ongoing collaboration and encourage the larger community to commit itself to proactively seeking  solutions to the varied social and economic challenges we face. City Gate will serve as convener and coordinator to facilitate this unified expression of service and remembrance.

            The design of this Saturday event begins with volunteers reporting to one of three central neighborhood sites for assignment to a project at 9 a.m. (such as clothing/book distribution or satellite clean-up or repair projects in the neighborhoods). Age-appropriate tasks will allow children to be full participants.  At 11:30 a.m. – after the time to “serve” – the volunteers will gather at the central sites to “salute” the sacrifice of those who perished and the service of the responders who courageously served on 9/11. This remembrance will not be led by celebrities but ordinary citizens and school children who have been engaged in a thoughtful process of preparation leading up to this event. A “celebration” will follow, including a cook-out, music, and activities for children. The celebration of food and friendship is designed to cement the sense of unity and the new relationships that have emerged from working together, as well as recognizing the common history and identify that we share, and that 9/11 will forever be a defining moment in our national consciousness.

            To help leverage the impact of this event for ongoing service projects and volunteerism, a select group of volunteers (who sign up in advance) will meet during this Day of Service with a trained facilitator to address practical strategies for building opportunities and support both for future service events and for volunteer service in existing community organizations.

The tragedy of 9/11 brought Americans together in an experience that transcended the differences and distractions that typically separate us into a million private worlds that diminish conscious engagement with and commitment to the larger common good. We propose a day of community service with a scale and diversity of participation, and a focus on the needs of others that will truly bring us back to the values, compassion, sacrifice, and unity that helped bring healing after a national tragedy. Part of the design will be not only to bring in volunteers from elsewhere in the city and suburbs, but to structure the service projects to include the residents of these neighborhoods also as volunteers, and then to build on shared service with the “salute” and “celebrate” activities that follow.           

City Gate and its partners will promote the National Day of Remembrance and Service through various tools (posters, flyers, media announcements), but primarily through direct invitation and communications with individuals, families, and children who are participants in the schools, churches, public housing communities, and various communities programs that will be represented by this collective effort.