Day of Service Uses Tech and Social Media Selfies to Inspire Service

In a twist of irony, selfies helped spread the word about unselfish community work following a former President’s visit to Phoenix.

“Changing the world is a group enterprise,” said President Bill Clinton to 600 students from around the world at the Clinton Global Initiative University’s Day of Service in Phoenix. “There’s no place for any of us in the peanut gallery. We have to be on the field and playing.”

The former president and his daughter, Chelsea, greeted the international group March 23 at PHX Renews, an urban renewal partnership between the City of Phoenix and Keep Phoenix Beautiful. But they didn’t just come to talk; they came to work, helping with projects like building picnic tables, planting crops and painting murals. In their tool belts: shovels, paintbrushes, drills, hammers, smartphones and tablets. Verizon Wireless was also at the event, providing another important tool: a mobile cell site to enhance network capacity for the visiting student volunteers.

In a matter of hours, the group helped transform the once vacant lot into a thriving, vibrant community space. And through their tweets, texts, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures of the event and the results, their work will continue to inspire others to take to the field, as President Clinton suggested. Jimmy Kimmel, for one, got in the act and the conversation and photos could be followed on various social networks via the hashtag #CGIU.

“We know technology is a powerful tool in helping to bring about change,” said Tom Waldeck, executive director of Keep Phoenix Beautiful.  “Having [a] Verizon Wireless mobile cell site here to boost capacity and keep this large group connected to the world ensured the Day of Service wasn’t just limited to one day and our local community – participants were able to tell the story to a global audience and help inspire countless others to take action.”

The annual service project is part of the Clinton Global Initiative’s desire to give back to the host community. President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton were joined by the Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton as well as former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and former astronaut Mark Kelly.