Mayor's Office

Press Release

Mayor Parker Launches
Website Offers Volunteer Opportunities, Overall Volunteer Plan for Houston



March 28, 2011 -- Mayor Annise Parker announced today the launch of Houston SERVICE, a comprehensive, high-impact service plan that leverages service and volunteerism to address three areas of need in Houston: youth development, veterans’ affairs, and CPR readiness.  In addition, Houston SERVICE is launching to provide details on the service plan, its initiatives, and other ways for Houstonians to become involved in volunteer activities.


“This grant enables the City of Houston to help both Houstonians with big hearts and organizations in great need of volunteers, especially those that focus on at-risk youth, veteran outreach and heart health,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “I thank both Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation for funding the City of Houston as a Cities of Service Leadership Grant recipient, and look forward to seeing the impact of Houston SERVICE.”


After assessing Houston’s existing service efforts in top-priority categories and collaborating closely with community partners, three volunteer impact initiatives were developed:


  • After-School Zones: This initiative seeks to increase both the number of mentors engaged with the city’s at-risk youth and the number of young people who are able to participate in academically rich after-school programming
  • Houston Veterans Continuing Service: The veterans’ initiative will offer peer-to-peer mentoring support to help 250-500 newly returning combat veterans reintegrate successfully into civilian life over two years
  • Everyone Can be a Lifesaver:   Recognizing heart disease and stroke as the nation’s leading causes of death, this initiative will train citizens how to perform effective bystander CPR using compressions only. These “volunteer trainers” pledge to teach compression-only CPR to five others, which will impact the entire Houston population by having more residents ready to respond to instances of cardiac arrest.


Immediately following the launch, the Chief Service Officer will be joined by the American Heart Association – Houston Division to host its first compression-only CPR training with City of Houston employees.  The training will be done using the American Heart Association’s “CPR Anytime” kit, a compact kit equipped with everything needed to learn basic CPR in just 22 minutes, which will be distributed to more than 100 city employees. Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.  The American Heart Association trains more than 12 million people in CPR annually, including healthcare professionals and the general public. 



Like all impact volunteering strategies, Houston SERVICE’s initiatives target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress.


Houston SERVICE is the product of a six-month assessment and consultation process coordinated by Chief Service Officer Cameron Waldner and staffmembers Katherine Price and Dave Beauchamp. The process brought many diverse groups to the table, including non-profit organizations, schools, colleges, private sector partners, public agencies, faith-based groups and everyday citizens.


Many organizations and volunteers collaborated with the the Mayor’s office to write and publish the service plan including: the Houston Public Library, Mayor’s Office of Education, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Independent School District and University of Houston – Downtown for After School Zones; City of Houston Office of Veterans Affairs, Lone Star Veterans Association, American Legion Post 416, Wounded Warrior Project, Vets 4 Vets, Harris County Veterans Court, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Harris County Vet Center and University of St. Thomas for Houston Veterans Continuing Service; and the American Heart Association, Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office, Houston Community College and Rice University for Everyone Can be a Lifesaver. The Mayor's Volunteer Initiatives Program played a key role coordinating the plan’s development.


About Cities of Service

Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 by 17 mayors from cities around the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have committed to work together to engage citizens in a multi-year effort to address pressing city needs through impact volunteerism. The coalition includes more than 100 mayors, representing more than 49 million Americans across the nation.
Cities of Service supports mayors to leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. All Cities of Service efforts are characterized by a concept called “impact volunteering” – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear outcomes and measures to gauge progress.


About Cities of Service Leadership Grants

In June 2010, the second round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, were awarded to Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AR; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA. As with the first round, these two-year grants enable cities to hire Chief Service Officers responsible for developing and implementing high-impact service plans.


The first round of Cities of Service Leadership Grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, were awarded in January 2010 to Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; and Seattle, WA. These ten cities launched high-impact service plans in September 2010.


The first high-impact service plan was developed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg when he created NYC Service and hired the nation’s first Chief Service Officer in 2009.


More information about the coalition can be found at