Following in Sargent Shriver’s Footsteps

Sargent ShriverWho inspires you? Who are the role models that set the example of the kind of person you are trying to be and the kind of impact you want to make? Whether you’re just beginning your life of service, or you’ve been serving as a volunteer, a nonprofit staffer, or as one who strives to improve the world for years, there is no better role model than Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.

Throughout his life, Sarge inspired millions to focus on others instead of themselves. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he went on to help found and become the first director of the Peace Corps under John F. Kennedy. Since this beginning with Sarge, the Peace Corps has placed more than 200,000 volunteers in 139 countries.

Sarge’s commitment to service is shared by his family. Married to Eunice Kennedy, who founded the Special Olympics in 1968, he taught his five children to follow in his footsteps. His son, Timothy, is the chairman of the Special Olympics. Anthony Shriver is chairman of Best Buddies International. Maria Shriver is wife of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and has done decades of work for individuals with disabilities and Alzheimer’s causes. The larger Kennedy clan, as a family of public servants, has had an unparalleled impact on the lives and sensibilities of generations of Americans.

Sarge inspired, directed or founded many of the social programs and organizations that have encouraged the entire country to serve others, including Head Start, VISTA, Job Corps, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, the Special Olympics, and the National Center on Poverty Law.

At the 25th anniversary of the Peace Corps in 1986, Sarge issued a challenge to us all: “Serve your families. Serve your neighbors. Serve your cities. Serve the poor. Join others who serve. Serve, serve, serve! That’s the challenge. For in the end, it will be servants who save us all.”

Yesterday Sarge passed away at the age of 95. We mourn his passing and send our heartfelt condolences to his family.

But we also know that Sarge’s spirit will never be gone from our lives. For we will never stop striving to meet his challenge. And it’s never been easier for Americans to find ways to serve others. Since 1998 VolunteerMatch has enabled more than 5 million people to focus on making the world better through volunteering, and we’ll continue to follow Sargent Shriver’s example in our work.

Especially now, as we remember Sarge’s incredible life, we invite you to join us and the millions who are inspired each day by his legacy to focus on others, to make each day count. Because of Sarge’s example, we’re a country of people who will spend our lives answering his call: to serve, serve, serve.

To learn more about Sargent Shriver’s extraordinary life and how you can honor him, visit

(Photo: Peace Corps)