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A convincing, motivating, practical call to action
on September 24, 2010
Society gives a smile and gentle pat on the head to the volunteer who reads a book to a child, clears trash from a park, or delivers meals to senior citizens. The nice guy or gal lending a helping hand through national service also gets a grateful thumbs up, though some scoff at the notion of being paid to do good.
But to Shirley Sagawa, service isn't nice; it's necessary. Strategically focused volunteering goes way beyond doing a good deed, she believes, and those performing national service are well worth the modest amounts we pay them to boost the impact of volunteers many times over and provide services that volunteers can't. Together, she argues in the book, they're a powerful force that can help solve challenges in childhood development, education, health, aging, poverty, natural disasters, the environment, and other critical areas.
Consistent with the policy acumen she put to good use in helping draft the legislation that created the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sagawa argues calmly but forcefully that we can't afford to neglect service in our arsenal of problem-solving strategies. Whether it's helping low-achieving kids do better in school, reducing recidivism among parolees, helping the unemployed secure stable employment, or reducing the risk of disease and infirmity among the elderly, service should be viewed as a cost-effective tool in our social toolkit, and we can either invest in the infrastructure needed to put it to good use now -- or pay a bigger price down the road. Whether you're a deficit hawk or a believer in "big" government, it seems like an easy choice to make.
You can read my full review of the book at[...]