In response to Barack Obama’s push for more public service among Americans, Michael Bloomberg is unveiling the city’s effort to boost volunteerism .
“If you grow up in New York City, you will learn how to serve, and you will be expected to serve,” Bloomberg told a crowd gathered at an indoor track in Washington Heights.
The event was essentially a pep rally, complete with cheerleading sections representing dozens of volunteer organizations, city employees wearing bright orange t-shirts and hats, and a jumbotron above the stage that shows live shots as the camera sweeps over the crowd on a crane.
Notables in attendance include Silda Wall Spitzer, wife of former governor Eliot Spitzer, and Matilda Cuomo, wife of former governor Mario Cuomo and mother of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
MTV News host Sway Calloway is also here.
Bloomberg unveiled the post of “chief volunteer officer.”
which will be awarded to Caroline Kennedy, who was recently close to being both a senator and the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
The most notable (though not in-person) appearance was from Valerie Jarrett, who, Bloomberg informed the crowd, is one of Obama’s “closest advisers.”
Jarrett, who appeared by video, praised the city’s efforts, which take place in the run-up to Obama signing the Serve America Act.
“Thank you for endorsing our efforts,” Bloomberg said after Jarrett’s video appearance.
Bloomberg ticked off the initiatives, which include an advertising campaign—on TV, in newspapers, and on billboards starting tomorrow—and a new web site to help people find volunteer opportunities. Bloomberg also said city volunteers will have the chance to be featured on a jumbotron in Times Square.
The mayor also got some kind words from MTV’s Sway. During one exchange where Sway was interviewing volunteers in the audience, Sway said to Bloomberg, “I got your back.”