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Giving Back By Making Our Voices Heard

December 14, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from Morgan St. Jean, former 09-10 Oregon Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA member, who’s currently interning with ServeNext.org. She is a graduate student at American University studying Political Communication. 

Yesterday I bought a gift for an angel tree that will be given to a needy family. This is something I try to do every year, in addition to volunteering in other ways. But this December, I added a different kind of service to my holiday routine: advocacy. I contacted my local senators and Representatives to support AmeriCorps, and I urge you to do the same.

Did you know that AmeriCorps and national service is seriously at risk? The House of Representatives has proposed a budget that would cut the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) by 75%. This would eliminate AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund and all other programs except Senior Corps. The Senate has proposed a budget that would keep CNCS at the same funding levels as last year.

In 2009 Congress passed the Kennedy Serve America Act (SAA) that laid out a plan to incrementally increase national service. Under SSA there were supposed to be 140,000 corps positions in 2012. But Congress has not funded the program and instead keeps trying to cut it. Last year national service supporters had to fight tooth and nail to prevent a 100% cut and thanks to their efforts, only 3,000 corps positions were lost.

Why were they successful? Because people like you and me made our voices heard. Congress represents us.

So when we call, write, and tweet, our Representatives listen.

Right now leaders within the House of Representatives and Senate are negotiating a comprise and deciding how much money to allocate to AmeriCorps next year and whether to cut the program completely or keep its 85,000 members.

DC Alums have been working hard to engage Congressional leaders in conversations around the importance of national service. We organized the Fight the Zero with ServeNext, and the event was a huge success.

Now I know one rally or petition will not change leaders minds. But a chorus of voices from across the nation punctuated by rallies and petitions will. Now is the time to tell Congress to fully fund AmeriCorps. We know firsthand the impact AmeriCorps has and we can be the program’s strongest advocate, all we have to do is act.

The Save Service Campaign has compiled a list of ways you can make your voice heard. Today, RIGHT NOW, please pick one and show your support for AmeriCorps.

1. Tweet Congress and tell them to fully fund the Corporation for National and Community Service. For a list of key decision makers and their twitter handles click here. Here are some sample tweets:

  • Make service a priority in America and protect funding for @AmeriCorps #saveservice
  • Fully fund @AmeriCorps to create jobs and support communities. #saveservice
  • @AmeriCorps engages 3 million community volunteers every year. Protect America’s right to serve. #saveservice

2. Write to Congress. Click here to send an electronic letter asking your legislators to fund the Corporation for National and Community Service.

3. Call your Member of Congress. Use the Save Service hotline 1-855-877-3783 to get automatically connected with your legislators.

December is the time of giving, so let’s give back to AmeriCorps by making sure it’s not eliminated.  Congress has a lot of tough choices to make, let’s join together and make sure they choose to support AmeriCorps.

Former ORCC VISTA

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