Save Service District DayMarch 1, 2011
Last Friday, February 25, was “Save Service District Day”, a national effort to mobilize citizens to visit their legislators in support of AmeriCorps and other national service programs operated by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). In case you haven’t heard yet, on February 19, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, legislation that would eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs. The same measure would also cut funding for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program.
I thought about skipping Save Service Day altogether. I thought to myself, someone else from our office would send emails to our representatives… I also thought about the fact that the Senate has not yet voted on this bill, and after they vote on it , it will still need to go to the President, so what is there to be so worried about? And certainly, Senator Franken and Senator Klobuchar will not support the cuts to national service programs and mentoring. Plus, I had lots of work to do before the weekend. And it was really, really cold outside.
But I had talked to my colleague at Mentor Michigan, Amber Troupe, the day before, and because of all of the work she was doing to mobilize people in her state, I decided I couldn’t let myself off the hook. So I registered myself at SaveService.org and at lunchtime on Friday, I headed over to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s offices in downtown Minneapolis.
And it was worth it. The conference room was packed with current and former AmeriCorps members, parents of AmeriCorps members, and staff from nonprofits whose organizations and clients benefit from AmeriCorps service. I was glad to represent the Mentoring Partnership alongside amazing organizations like Habitat For Humanity, Admission Possible, Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration, National Youth Leadership Council and the Minnesota Serve Act Committee.
Each program talked about their work and how AmeriCorps and other national service members impact their ability to achieve their mission. The return on investment for national service programs is huge. We emphasized not just the importance of maintaining funding for AmeriCorps, but the need to expand it!
One of my favorite testimonials was shared by a current AmeriCorps member. She talked about how proud her friends and family members were when she shared that after college she was planning to devote a year of her life to national service. She then described how disheartening it feels to now be in this position, defending the existence of a program she was led to believe was revered and respected by her nation and its leaders.
Again, we know that H.R. 1 – as it passed the House – will not be the last word on this legislation. But Congress does have to agree on something before March 4th or the government is at risk of a shutdown. What can you do to help? Take the time to contact your legislators (from both the House and Senate, and from both parties!) and encourage them to support a Continuing Resolution that restores funding to the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program and CNCS.
- Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota – Take Action
- Voices for National Service
- MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership
- Legislative Alert: Save Service Day