"AmeriCorps volunteers tackle the toughest problems in our communities."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) honored National Volunteer Month today by drawing attention to the need to support those who give their service to the country through AmeriCorps and criticizing President Bush's cuts to crucial AmeriCorps programs.
President Bush's proposed FY 2007 budget would eliminate the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program. Recently, participants in the NCCC have contributed $3.8 million worth of service hours to Hurricane Katrina relief work.
Senator Mikulski's statement for the record is below:
"Mr. President, seven months ago the world watched in horror and disbelief as Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast and left massive devastation in its wake. We've seen the pictures of toppled buildings, collapsed houses and communities covered in an endless blanket of debris. We've wondered - how will they ever recover?
"With the help of volunteers, slowly they are making progress. Hundreds of selfless do-gooders have been putting on hard hats, wading through homes knee-deep in mud, clearing debris and literally doing the dirty work.
"April is National Volunteers Month. I want to recognize it by saying thank you to all the volunteers and service workers everywhere. And this year I especially want to honor those helping out with Hurricane Katrina recovery. They are taking time out of their lives to help their fellow Americans in their time of need - and they are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
"AmeriCorps is the embodiment of this spirit of volunteerism and service to the country. Since 1989, I have been a leader in the creation of AmeriCorps. I introduced the National and Community Service Act to establish the Corporation for National and Community Service to oversee and coordinate our national volunteer efforts and to create a demonstration program that has evolved into what we know today as AmeriCorps. As one of the founders, I have been its chief advocate in the Senate. I fought to create AmeriCorps, I fought to strengthen AmeriCorps and I will continue to fight to save key AmeriCorps programs.
"Hundreds of members of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) have set up camp in the Gulf region. They have provided more than 250,000 service hours valued at $3.8 million to Hurricane Katrina recovery projects. They are helping thousands get their homes, their communities and their lives back.
"Their help is needed now more than ever. But President Bush's FY 2007 budget would completely eliminate the NCCC program and close it's five campuses nationwide - including one in my own home state at Perry Point, Maryland. The government let the people of the Gulf Coast down when Hurricane Katrina hit, we can't let them down in her aftermath.
"That's why I fought back against President Bush's budget cuts and worked to make sure the Emergency Supplemental spending bill, which will be considered on the Senate floor this week, contained $20 million for the NCCC to support volunteer hurricane recovery activities on the Gulf Coast and other affected areas.
"AmeriCorps volunteers tackle the toughest problems in our communities. Not only are NCCC teams a vital resource in hurricane recovery on the Gulf Coast, they are deployed nationwide to build homes, clear thousands of acres of forests burnt by wildfires, and tutor children. They are unflagging, unflinching and determined to make a difference. And we need their help. Now is not the time to take our volunteers for granted and turn our backs on the NCCC. It is time to thank them not just with words, but with deeds."