Mayor urges Make a Difference Day projects
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Oct 23, 2012 | 884 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Area organizations, churches, businesses, schools and a slew of individual good samaritans are gearing up for Saturday’s annual Make a Difference Day, and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland is urging project leaders to report their initiatives to his office.

“Anyone who is planning to conduct an activity, whether it’s an organization, a group or an individual, is asked to please contact my office and let us know what you plan to do,” Rowland told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “The project needs to be done on Oct. 27 or soon thereafter.”

Those wishing to report their project may contact the mayor’s office at 423-476-8931.

Rowland requested project organizers, once the work is completed, to contact his office again to confirm the project’s status, the number of volunteers involved and the total volunteer hours that were given to the initiative.

“My office each year provides a report to ‘Make a Difference Day’ as to what is done here in this community,” Cleveland’s longest running mayor explained. “Though we have not sought awards or cash awards, it is important to share with the world that this community has a heart for ‘Making a Difference’ in the lives of others.”

Last year, 3 million Americans participated in the national campaign.

The Make a Difference Day project offers cash rewards up to $10,000 for those who qualify. The cash reward is provided through the Paul Newman foundation called Newman’s Own. More information about the awards can be found on the “Make a Difference Day” website ( or by referring to the issue of USA WEEKEND magazine that appeared in last Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Make a Difference Day is held annually on the fourth Saturday in October. It is sponsored by USA WEEKEND and the HandsOn Network, the latter of which is a business unit of the Points of Light Institute. According to the recent edition of USA WEEKEND, this is the second year that the weekly magazine and NBC News have teamed to promote the event.

Locally, the Cleveland Daily Banner has supported Make a Difference Day projects over the years in the Cleveland and Bradley County community.

Rowland said local residents and organizations traditionally take the annual campaign seriously.

“Cleveland has been participating in the Make a Difference Day for several years,” the mayor stressed. “Our folks, and many groups, organizations, churches, companies and so very many others, have set aside a day to do something good for someone else.”

Rowland pointed to the types of projects that have been conducted, and completed, in Cleveland in past years. He sees the same happening again this year, and in some cases additional new ideas are expected to be included in the Good Samaritan hopper.

“Through the years, projects have ranged from simple acts like helping a senior citizen with lawn care, cleaning projects, installing wheelchair ramps and picking up litter, and these are just a few of the opportunities that are out there,” Rowland said.

The mayor added, “Many of us could probably just look out our front or back door and see something that needs attention — a neighbor who could use a visit or a helping hand, or perhaps a street or lawn that needs debris removed.”

Rowland urged local residents, or organizations, to consider a project.

“Whether it’s a Scout Troop, civic club or organization, church, Sunday School class or individual, there is something that can be done to help someone else,” the mayor stated.

Rowland said past success stories in Cleveland regarding Make a Difference Day have shown that anyone “... regardless of age, location or resources can accomplish amazing things when they take on the problems they see in their community.”

This is a good fit with the Cleveland community mindset, he noted.

“Cleveland is a caring community whose people and various organizations literally work year-round to make a difference,” Rowland stressed. “This one day a year just reinforces what we do all year long; that is, to find ways to make the lives of our family, friends and neighbors a little brighter.”

As he has pointed out in past interviews, in public addresses and even in his own personal column published in the Cleveland Daily Banner, Rowland said “no project is too small or too big” to be a part of Make a Difference Day 2012.

“Those who participate will certainly be glad they did,” the mayor cited.

According to the recent USA WEEKEND article, a pair of NBC “Today Show” hosts are thinking along the same lines as Rowland.

“When I think about why I’m inspired to give back, the easiest answer is that I’m a father of three children,” wrote Matt Lauer in the magazine article. “When you’re fortunate enough to be able to raise your kids the way you want, it’s impossible not to be aware of the fact that there are a lot of kids who don’t grow up in those circumstances.”

Lauer added, “As parents, our first responsibility is to raise healthy children. But you’ve also got to raise good people. And good people aren’t just consumers, they’re givers.”

“Today Show” host Savannah Guthrie offered her own take on Make a Difference Day in the Sunday magazine. She pointed to the morning news show’s sponsorship of an annual toy drive that raised $35 million worth of donations last year for kids in need.

“There is a lot of need and hardship in our country,” Guthrie wrote. “Even small things can make a difference in a person’s life. I guarantee if you volunteer on Make a Difference Day, you will never be sorry. What your mom always said is true: It really is better to give than to receive.”

Make a Difference Day is the largest national day of community service in the U.S., Rowland stressed.