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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Volunteerism Is Cool Again !

Hello Readers of Papamoka!

Been some time since I have posted but I have something that I am passionate enough to speak about.

This past week the House past legislation for $6 billion in funding over the next 5 years to create roughly 175K new volunteer positions within AmeriCorps. The GIVEact (The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act) will increase funds to state and national AmeriCorps programs to be able to support volunteers. Strong criticism from conservatives, who up until last year were almost sure that more AmeriCorps programs would be cut, is now seeing the reality of a democratic administration moving forward with volunteerism. The House did pass this with a 321-105 vote, meaning law makers do understand the importance of America’s youth helping America. GIVEact also wants to get more Baby Boomers involved in community service through VISTA programs.

This legislation hits me close to home. I am an AmeriCorps Alum who spent two years as a corps member in AmeriCorps NCCC. Those two years were the most rewarding and demanding years of my life. I was only a year out of high school and not sure what I would do with my life. I was not ready for college but I did not want to be a barista at the local Starbucks forever either. I was Class 5 & 6 in the NCCC; the program now is in year 15 of existence. I grew up in a family that believed in giving back, doing our part as a citizen of this country. So committing to two years of service was very easy for me, I wanted to be that person that made a difference in someone’s life. I believe through out my travels in those two years I was able to positively affect many peoples lives, for this I am proud.

Back in February of 2006 I wrote on trying to save AmeriCorps NCCC, at this time former President Bush’s put through to cut funding for the NCCC program, saying that falls class would be the last to graduate from the program. I fought hard; this was not something I would let happen to a program that made me who I am today. Feel free to read my post on Saving AmeriCorps NCCC.

Now being 2009, and knowing that such programs will not be cut and in fact will be improved. The small stipend that I received will increase, this allowing people more flexibility in joining AmeriCorps. Knowing that there will be an increase to the education award is promising also.

This issue is not a left wing/right wing issue, this is an American issue. Volunteerism is American; it is what formed the core of this country. The chance for youth to give back without having to become a member of the Armed Forces benefits everyone. The many programs I worked on while a corps member addressed the fact that it was needed, that there was a gap in what private and government funding could cover with tax dollars. I was able to help low income families complete tax returns and get money back into their pockets, I was a mentor to young girls who got lost in the system and built houses for the Lakota’s of South Dakota.

A similar bill will go before the Senate called the “Serve America Act” which will also aim at improving AmeriCorps programs. This would be setting up additional Corps under AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Creating corps that focuses on the big three issues for the country right now, Clean Energy, Education, and Health Care.

With the lack of jobs right now, what better than a high school or college graduate giving back before entering the “real world?” The passing of both these bills would make for some much needed advancement in service work.

Article on Fox News about the passing of legislation.

AmeriCorps Website


Thats me 3rd from the right!

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Blogger Papamoka said...

I love it! It's about time we brought back the call to service of our fellow man in this country. We need it, the world needs it.

Great post Crystal!

9:00 PM  

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