Many of you may never have heard of Americorps, volunteered in this organization or had contact with anyone who has, but personally, I was a member for a year in 2007/2008 and this is an organization we cannot let congress delete or diminish!
When we first moved to Grays Harbor, I was like a kid on summer vacation...well, I actually took the summer off for the first time since I was 16 years old and played on the beach with my grands, played in parks, visited local sights and got to know the lay of the land.
However, never did I imagine the economy was about to tank, the mills in this area would close and I would not be able to find a job even as an emergency dispatcher with 13 years of service including critical incident, suicide prevention and emergency response training.
I live in what I term, a closed community. If you were not born and raised here, you aren't going to fit it for a very long time, no matter how much you reach out to volunteer or want to help. Every door I tried to open, shut in my face.
Then, I read an ad for Washington Reading Corps, part of Americorps and applied because it was at the grands school and I could have the same days off and work the same hours...I was excited when I got the call for an interview in Olympia.
That was the key, it was an interview out of the city, with forward thinking people, people who don't care if you come from a logging, paper mill, fishing family or if you were born and raised here. They care that you can help!
I was hired on and it was a great year as a reading tutor mentor for kids at risk. I learned so much about Americorps, saw children blossom when they realized they could read or do math. I fed the homeless, cleaned up historic locations, worked in the mission and even worked in the office for the tall ship Lady Washington as a volunteer.
Without Americorps volunteers, our local school wouldn't be able to operate with tutors, after school programs, emergency planning, homeless youth, etc. Without Americorps volunteers, many Habitat for Humanity projects wouldn't be complete, homeless wouldn't be fed, etc.
I got to do something I never dreamed possible that year, I got to recruit volunteer readers for our school and the entire local fire department signed up and they were there almost daily and the kids got to where they wanted to read, they wanted to sit with a fireman & it was successful.
I also got to be with 2 of them, as they were presented the Governors award for their department for their volunteer service in full dress uniforms. When I left that day, one of the fire fighters shared with me how volunteering to read at the school taught him how to reach out and read to his grandson who is Autistic. I cried!
Please, take a minute and go to this link http://www.change.org/petitions/save-americorps and sign the petition to keep Americorps going. While volunteers do earn a living stipend of around $900 a month, many are young adults who leave college or home to do this year in another part of the country and share with others.
Don't let Americorps die, America needs these volunteers and there are other places congress can cut!