The First Lady has been taking her passion for service and her impressively toned biceps out into the nonprofit community. Along with her February visit to the Washington, DC community health center, Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care, Mrs. Obama hit Miriam's Kitchen last Friday to help serve "healthy, homemade meals" to homeless men and women.
The event was covered by The Washington Post who churned out a rather lackluster piece entitled "For a Day, First Lady Becomes a Lunch Lady." Beyond the obvious issues with referring to staff members and volunteers who serve food to the homeless as "lunch ladies," the article scene's descriptions were enough to suck nearly all of the life out a story that matters not only to the DC nonprofit community, but to the entire nonprofit sector.
After such a disastrous federal response to disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the power of seeing a public figure like Michelle Obama out serving individuals who are suffering in her local community can hardly be overstated. As she explained to the crowd at Miriam's Kitchen, "[This place] is an example of what we can do as a country and a community to help folks when they're down." She encouraged people to visit their local nonprofits and to volunteer time if they do not have the resources to donate money.
Maureen Dowd of The New York Times asked the question Monday morning, "Should Michelle Cover Up?" Coming from the Regenerates corner (I think I can safely speak for all of us on this one), the answer is resoundingly "no" - she should cover up neither her arms nor her ability to be a confident, outspoken role model. It's not just because she inspires us all to stick to our exercise regimens, but because she understands that in times like these, we all need to be reminded that we are part of a larger community. And that sometimes time is more valuable than money.
Say what you will about President Obama's charitable deductions plan, I would say that we have at least one resident of the White House who isn't "out to lunch" when it comes to supporting the nonprofit community.
For our readers, I wonder -- what are the most effective ways for our public figures to support the nonprofit community? Beyond our own narrowly-defined missions, what messages should the sector as a whole seek to make known to the larger public? And lastly, is there anyone out there besides insecure congressmen that really want Michelle Obama to wear turtleneck sweaters?