Investing in Service; Why We Serve Symposium

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Nicholas Perez
  • 151st Wing

First Lady Abby Palmer Cox took charge of a compelling panel discussion at "Why We Serve: A Symposium on State and National Service," hosted by Governor Spencer Cox on Jan 8, 2024, in Salt Lake City. The focus of the symposium centered on the essential role of service, particularly among the younger generation, emphasizing its impact at both individual and community levels.

Leading the symposium's first panel, Cox was joined by Capt. Landon Tholen, Samantha Archer, and Ruby Vejar brought diverse perspectives to the table, illuminating the motivations propelling the youth's dedication to service and volunteerism.

"Service isn't just an action; it's a fundamental belief," Abby Cox asserted. "Today's young leaders are at the forefront, bringing fresh perspectives and unwavering commitment to addressing societal needs."

Utah Air National Guard Capt. Landon Tholen, cyber operations officer at joint force headquarters, reflected on the importance of service, emphasizing, "The youth are the driving force behind tangible change. Their passion and dedication fuel transformative initiatives."

Archer and Vejar, embodying this dedication, shared personal anecdotes and convictions during the panel session. Their engaging insights profoundly resonated in a symposium highlighting service as a pillar of values and community resilience.

Governor Spencer Cox underscored the pivotal role of service, affirming its influence in shaping Utah's cultural fabric. "Service and the commitment to give back are defining features of our state culture, and we want to keep it that way," said Gov. Cox. "Volunteering benefits the giver, the receiver, and the entire community, and that's why we're launching several initiatives that support volunteering. We're so grateful for the Carnegie Corporation of New York and others who join us in these efforts."

Utah, renowned for its leading position in national volunteering and charitable giving, continues to champion expanded volunteer opportunities. Recent surveys affirm this, revealing that 61% of Utah residents advocate for a compulsory community service graduation requirement for high school seniors. Moreover, within the 18-34 age bracket, 59% express support for this initiative.

The surveys also highlighted widespread approval for young Utahns engaging in an elective year of service while receiving either a living stipend or educational scholarship, with a resounding 65% of respondents in favor. Notably, 80% of those aged 18-34 endorse this endeavor, reflecting a robust endorsement among the younger demographic.

Dame Louise Richardson, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced a significant commitment of $3 million in new funding for state and national service programs, with a substantial allocation of $1.1 million designated for Utah-based initiatives, aligning with efforts to address societal challenges, including political polarization.

Governor Cox's proposed fiscal year 2025 budget is poised to include strategic funding for several service-oriented programs, cementing the state's dedication to fostering a service culture.