Dear Editor,
The former Republican governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, who also is former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has written a letter shared in the Washington Post explaining why he thinks it’s important to continue funding the national service programs, of which AmeriCorps is a part.

You can access the former governor’s letter here.

In our community it’s easy to think only of the programs we see. What we don’t see are programs like Senior Corps Foster Grandparents, RSVP – the program for volunteers 55 and over working in their home communities, and Senior Companions, volunteers 55 and older providing friendship and daily assistance allowing some elders to remain in their own homes much longer.

Over the past 23 years more than 1 million have served full time in AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps NCCC teams have assisted 17.6 million Americans in disaster areas, recruited or coordinated 840,000 volunteers, and assisted more than 70,000 veterans. Research has shown that for every $1 spent on youth national service alone, taxpayers save an additional $2, and that every $10 spent on the program by government generates $15 more in donations from private partnerships.

The spending plan proposed by the current administration aims to eliminate the program.

The Americorps program is not only important for Vinton, but it is a valuable investment for the nation as well. Governor Barbour eloquently shares how valuable the 40,000 Americorps members working in his state were after Hurricane Katrina. AmeriCorps members provided direct assistance as well as training and coordination of thousands of faith-based and community volunteers.

Numbers like those shared above are worth knowing, but numbers alone won’t persuade legislators to save this valuable program. It will take citizens like you sharing your thoughts and experiences. And I might add, if the people of Vinton and the surrounding area who have benefited so much, and have seen firsthand how important Americorps is won’t speak up, who will?

A member of our community recently shared that he had been in contact with our representatives about keeping the program and our representatives said they have been surprised…surprised that they hadn’t heard much from us on this issue.

Please take a moment to tell your elected representatives about the value of this program to taxpayers, Corps participants, Vinton and America. If you have the time, write a letter. A hand written letter carries more weight than an email or a phone call. But if you don’t have time to write, please take a moment to call or email to so your voice is heard.

Our representatives can be reached at:
Senator Charles Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 52010

Senator Joni Ernst
111 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Representative Rod Blum
1108 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2911

To learn more about the national service programs click here.

Kurt Karr