By her own admission, Sandy Aguirre’s story is unbelievable. Some would say it’s the stuff of Hollywood. And in this case, it literally is. Only this fairy tale is a true story. Actually born in Hollywood, California, this 18-year-old recent graduate of ServiceWorks at the Youth Policy Institute in Los Angeles, was with her family in Central America, struggling just to get back into her own country. Yet there she was, in late February, sitting in the State Dining Room of the White House – just a few feet away from Michelle Obama and a panel of celebrity recording artists she’d admired for years.
A bit of ServiceWorks history was made recently as we launched a brand new component to our program. As part of our national effort to mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with a day of service learning, we debuted a one-day version of our curriculum, centered around a service project benefitting local communities around the country.
Across America, more than 5.5 million youth are disconnected from college and careers. That's a jobless rate in excess of 15 percent for inner-city 16- to 24-year-olds. Having that many young people out of school and not working is not just devastating to those displaced youth and their future, but it's a long-term hindrance to the economic development of the communities in which they live. It's a challenge that needs public-private partnerships combining resources and expertise.
An army of volunteers responded over the weekend to community issues by creating, leading and engaging others in projects designed to fit each community’s unique needs. They read to children in Miami to address literacy challenges, cleared soccer fields in New York to give kids a safe place to play, added sweat equity to a home in Los Angeles to benefit a veteran and more.