Thousands of people gathered to strategize on service at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. It began Monday at McCormick Place and aims to bring together community organizers and corporations with employee volunteer programs around the world.
Organizers say service to one's neighbor is not political.
"At a time when our political system often feels broken, service and civic participation should be a uniting force in finding a more perfect union," said Points of Light's Michelle Nunn.
"You will learn more about yourself doing something for others than anything else in your life," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "This is a great country, and you owe your community and your country something back for being an American."
The conference is to be a motivator for those who do the work and those who recruit volunteers.
Attendance is up this year.
Volunteer recruiters say they have had highly skilled volunteers in recent years. While some are out of work, they are putting to use their time to help organizations in their communities. Recruiters say this is not only a boost for the organization, but it is way for job applicants to show how their skills transfer and their willingness to work.
The conference continues through Wednesday.