On November 22, 1963, then-President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he was riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas. Fast forward to 2013 at the time of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the conversations and media attention surrounding it was a bit negative. This sparked the mind of Chart Westcott who came up with the idea of a day of service in the Dallas area in honor of the fallen President which would be held on the weekend after the anniversary. After speaking with a few friends and other prominent individuals in Dallas about the idea, it began to grow in interest. While speaking at the North Texas Food Bank, Westcott said, “The city of Dallas and the people of Dallas heard President Kennedy’s message ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country. And we are honoring his legacy of service.” This event was meant to serve the legacy of a man who made an effort to give back to the citizens.
Held on November 23, 2013, the JFK Day of Service consisted of thousands of Dallasites volunteering to perform community service projects at a dozen of different Dallas organizations such as the North Texas Food Bank, the SPCA and the Salvation Army of Dallas. In a news release, Westcott stated, “As our city mobilizes to fill the volunteer needs of organizations across the city, we will demonstrate our commitment to answering the president’s call to serve our county.” Another aspect of the JFK Day of Service included giving companies the opportunity to sponsor a “dream project” by donating funds and resources to help complete specific projects for the charitable organizations on the day of service. Numerous of these companies made large donations to implement these projects. Most notably, Bank of America contributed almost $50,000 to renovate John F. Kennedy Elementary School’s library.
Planning this event was a massive undertaking for Chart and the other people who were involved. It required many hours of work to get outreach to the citizens, stakeholders, government, and the charities. They also had the support of the Westcott Foundation who provided some funding to underwrite some of the costs of the event. This turned out to be very minimal in comparison to the return on investment to both the city of Dallas and the individual charities. What was great about this event was the fact that it was a nonpartisan initiative and was an event made by the people for the people to honor JFK and his legacy of service. This was reflected in the positive reception that it received from the people of Dallas and the volunteers. All of the charities were thankful for Chart and the rest of the JFK Board for organizing the event, and to the individuals who came out in support to donate their time.
Photos of the event can be found below. You can find more of these images on the event’s Facebook Page.