When we first added a National Service Express Tour stop in Pittsburgh on the eve of the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary, we knew there would be some buzz… but really, we were blown away.
Students and community members arrived (at the Peterson Events Center) as early as 11 a.m. to claim their seats for the event, which began at 7:30 p.m. The line snaked from the entrance at the top of the hill, past Pennsylvania Hall and Panther Hall, down the hill past the Chevron building and all the way to Fifth Avenue.
We had 41 people in New Hampshire for our Tour Kickoff Party, but this was a horse of a different color! When all 10,000 citizens were through security, seated in the arena, and the event finally started, the event’s guest speaker inspired the crowd by appealing to their sense of patriotism with a common-sense, solutions-oriented approach to making college more affordable by addressing pressing community needs. It’s the kind of message that folks in cities across the country have come to expect from these ServeNext events and exactly why crowds over the last 2 weeks have built.
For college students, Obama said he plans to give $4,000 tuition credits to students who volunteer at places like homeless shelters, which is similar to the AmeriCorps program initiated by the Clinton administration.
“We invest in you, you invest in America,” Obama said.
Obama?! Oh yeah… U.S. Senator Barack Obama was down the street from our ServeNext event for a final campaign rally before Tuesday’s vote. A small, but mighty crowd gathered at Panera Bread to strategize for ServeNext around key Congressional races in Pennsylvania.
And you know what? They’re psyched about the work ahead and the road we’ll travel to get there together. Fueled by various National Service experiences and united by a passion for expanding opportunities for their peers to serve, ServeNext Pittsburgh is off the ground and actively organizing.