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United They Serve

By Ed O'Keefe

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki spent part of his Monday driving veterans to their appointments at VA medical centers. (Photo courtesy Dept. of Veterans Affairs

The White House today is once again dispatching Cabinet secretaries and other senior administration officials across the country to tout an administration initiative. This time, it's the United We Serve summer program, which President Obama announced last week as an effort to promote volunteerism and assure that the nation's increased interest in public and community service continues further into 2008.

Almost everyone with a senior title -- the first lady, Cabinet secretaries, even the U.N. ambassador -- is pitching in at an event today, helping build homes, serve food to the needy, clear waterways or teach children about overseas emergency relief efforts.

The coordinated government promotion of community service is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that has earned special attention from the Obamas since they moved into the White House. This week Mrs. Obama's former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, is scheduled to join the Corporation as a senior adviser, an appointment seen by some observers as a way to further stamp the Obama legacy upon the agency.

Lawmakers have also paid extra attention to the agency in recent days, following President Obama's dismissal of the agency's inspector general, Gerald Walpin. Critics allege the president dismissed the Bush appointee for political reasons.

The administration is asking Washington-area federal employees to participate by donating one million pounds of food for the Capital Area Food Bank. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry will formally launch the "Feds Feed Families" food drive tomorrow in Fairfax, Va.

The most high-profile event happens today in San Francisco, when the first lady joins volunteers and California first lady Maria Shriver to help build an elementary school playground. The event will showcase the work of KaBOOM!, a D.C.-based organization devoted to building playgrounds across the country. The organization is providing volunteer opportunities tied to the United We Serve initiative.

Several Cabinet secretaries will also fan out across the country to highlight the work of other community groups: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood volunteers at a Habitat for Humanity project in Brooklyn, N.Y., while Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. visits the Police Athletic League in Philadelphia. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will read to children at a homeless shelter in Mesa, Ariz., and HUD Chief Shaun Donovan visits New Orleans homeowners still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Timothy Geithner will also volunteer at a community service project in Washington later this week.

Two other secretaries will make a point of thanking military veterans for their service: Defense Secretary Robert Gates will make one of his regular visits Walter Reed Army Medical Center today to visit wounded veterans, while, earlier this morning, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki drove some veterans to their medical appointments at D.C.-area VA medical centers.

A full schedule, as provided by the White House, appears below:

First Lady Michelle Obama
Joins California First Lady Maria Shriver and Corporation for National and Community Service acting CEO Nicky Goren at the construction of a public playground at Bret Harte Public Elementary School in San Francisco in conjunction with KaBOOM!.

12:30 p.m. PDT
1035 Gilman Avenue
San Francisco, Calif.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Makes a private visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to spend time with wounded veterans in residence and to thank volunteers.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Visits the Police Athletic League in Philadelphia to tour the PAL center, speak to youth and volunteers and toss the opening tip-off of a youth basketball game.

3:00 p.m. EDT
Cozen Center
732 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, Pa.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Works with volunteers from Youth Conservation Corps, Volunteers-in-the-Parks, Student Conservation Association and the Shenandoah National Park Association to remove exotic plants in the Shenandoah National Park.

11:30 a.m. EDT
Shenandoah National Park
Highway 121 and Skyline Drive
Luray, Va.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
Visits the La Mesita Homeless Shelter for Families in Mesa, Ariz. and will read to children and serve them lunch at the Child Care Center.

11:00 a.m. MST
La Mesita Homeless Shelter for Families
2254 W. Main Street
Mesa, Ariz.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
The former Los Angeles-area resident will work with the Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity Social Justice and Action YouthBuild program to help construct energy-efficient housing for low income individuals.

10:00 a.m. PDT
LACAUSA YouthBuild
1117 Goodrich Blvd
Los Angeles, Calif.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan
Joins volunteers from the St. Bernard Project and other local organizations to rebuild a New Orleans home that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. He will also join the St. Bernard Project to welcome a family back into their Gentilly neighborhood home that was recently renovated with support from the St. Bernard Project.

Events start at 9:45 a.m. CDT in New Orleans

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Visits and works on Habitat for Humanity’s Atlantic Avenue project in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Atlantic Avenue project is a 41 unit, multi-family, energy efficient building complex.

1:00 p.m. EDT
Atlantic Avenue Habitat for Humanity project
2331 Atlantic Avenue (between Eastern parkway and Sherlock Place)
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Travels to Battle Creek, Mich. for an energy efficiency event in partnership with League of Conservation Voters at the local YMCA. He will also help assemble home energy efficiency kits and educational materials to help families lower their energy costs.

2:00 p.m. EDT
Battle Creek YMCA
182 Capital Avenue NE
Battle Creek, Mich.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan
He will meet with librarians and then read to children at Fanwood Memorial Library in Fanwood, N.J.

1:20 p.m. EDT
Fanwood Memorial Library
North Avenue and Tillotson Road
Fanwood, N.J.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
He will assist volunteer drivers in transporting patients who are unable to drive to their medical appointments at VA Medical Centers. VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth will address a group of youth volunteers about “Knowing and Respecting Disabled Veterans."
Private events

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
She will work with the Orlando Citizen Corps Council and volunteers to assemble Community Emergency Response Team kits in preparation for hurricane season at the Orlando Emergency Operations Center.

1:15 p.m. EDT
City of Orlando Emergency Operations Center
110 Andes Avenue
Orlando, Fla.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate
He will meet with firefighters, emergency response volunteers and members of Fire Corps, a group of community members that volunteer time to support local firefighters.

11:00 a.m. MDT
Station 8, Denver Fire Department
1616 Park Avenue
Denver, Colo.

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice
She will visit the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, where she will teach middle and high school students about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and about the emergency relief items needed by children in the DRC. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF will make a donation of emergency goods to children in the DRC, and the Harlem students will personalize the gifts with cards and photos. This is a closed event.

12:15 p.m. EDT
Harlem Children’s Zone
35 East 125th Street
New York, N.Y.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
Heading back to his hometown, he will serve breakfast at The Second Chance Café at The Bridge, a program of The Stewpot, a facility that feeds the homeless in Dallas. The Stewpot is a comprehensive resource center for homeless and at-risk individuals in Dallas.

7:00 a.m. CDT
The Second Chance Café at The Bridge
1818 Corsicana St.
Dallas, Texas

Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson
She joins Missouri River Relief, Blue River Watershed Association, Missouri Stream Team and Friends of the Kaw, as well as local students to monitor and help clean up the Missouri and Kansas Rivers at Kaw Point Park, Kansas.

11:30 a.m. CDT
Kaw Point Park
Fairfax District
Kansas City, Kan.

USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham
He will participate in an immunization drive with the Baltimore City Health Department, the Esperanza Center, a health center that provides bilingual primary care adult, pediatric and well-woman care, and the Baltimore City Women, Infant and Children program.

10:00 a.m. EDT
Esperanza Center
430 South Broadway
Baltimore, Md.

11:00 a.m. EDT
Baltimore City WIC Program
620 N. Caroline Street
Baltimore, Md.

Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley
She joins the Anacostia Watershed Society to plant native wetland species in Kingman Lake, a 35-acre wetlands marsh adjacent to the Anacostia River. Kingman Lake is the biggest tidal wetland in Washington, D.C.

2:00 p.m. EDT
Kingman Lake
2790 Benning Road, NE
Washington, D.C.

Small Business Administration Administrator Karen G. Mills
She'll join SCORE, Small Business Development Center and Women's Business Center volunteers and counselors to host a Young Entrepreneurs session at Southern Maine Community College. Mills will counsel budding business leaders by providing insight and assistance based on their knowledge and past experiences.

9:00 a.m. EDT
Southern Maine Community College
Peter A. McKernan Hospitality Center
2 Fort Road
South Portland, Maine

Tuesday, June 23rd
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
The secretary will participate in the “Reach Out and Read” program and read to children at a local health center in the D.C. metro area. Details are forthcoming.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry
He will visit Food For Others food distribution center to kick off the ‘Feds Feed Families’ food drive that federal employees will participate in throughout the summer.

12:00 p.m. EDT
Food For Others
2938 Prosperity Avenue
Merrifield, Va.

Thursday, June 25th
Treasury Secretary Timothy M. Geithner
He will participate in a community service project in Washington, D.C. Details to come.

Monday, June 29th
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
He will work with the Summer Food Service Program in Chicago to help prepare and distribute free, nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas who are enrolled in the program. The Summer Food Service Program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the USDA.

11:45 a.m. CDT
St. Agatha Family Empowerment Center
Chicago, Ill.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 22, 2009; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Public Service  
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