Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Save AmeriCorps!

It is becoming clear that no one is going to escape the proposed federal and state budget cuts, including Lettuce Link.  On February 19th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, eliminating funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which includes the the AmeriCorps national service program.  If passed by the Senate, these cuts will devastate programs and services in Seattle that work to alleviate hunger, increase literacy, build community and reduce generational poverty in our community.

AmeriCorps is an incredibly varied program, and Lettuce Link relies on two types of AmeriCorps volunteers to create, plan and carry out many of its projects across the city of Seattle. 
  • Amelia is a member of AppleCorps, an AmeriCorps State and National program whose members are involved in various projects that are aimed at addressing the root causes of childhood hunger, obesity and malnutrition. Amelia's position is focused on Marra Farm in Seattle's South Park neighborhood, and she will be leading several children's gardening and nutrition classes at Marra Farm this spring.
  • Molly is a member of the Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA team. Her program focuses on getting fresh, healthy food into food banks by gleaning it from surrounding farms, community gardens and fruit trees.
  • Mariah is also an AmeriCorps VISTA, and her position is providing community outreach for the new Seattle Community Farm in Rainier Valley.
As you can see, our capacity to serve the community would be drastically reduced with the loss of our AmeriCorps volunteers. 
    AmeriCorps provides job opportunities for people with limited work experience, such as recent college graduates or people starting a career in social services.  The AmeriCorps year provides members with experience and practical knowledge that helps them succeed in the job market. AmeriCorps members also receive an education award that allows them to pay back school loans or continue with their education.

    There are AmeriCorps programs targeted at all age groups, skills and times of life, and all of these programs set their members up for success. In Washington state alone, the House bill would eliminate over 3,000 AmeriCorps positions in non-profits and social service organizations that benefit from the talents and enthusiasm of AmeriCorps volunteers. This is a program we need to keep.

    Please contact your senators and urge them to reject  to let them know that you care about the health and well-being of our community.  Voices for National Service has some excellent talking points to get you started! 

    In Washington State, contact:
    Patty Murray: toll free 1 (866) 481-9186 or via murray.senate.gov.
    Maria Cantwell: toll free 1 (888) 648-7328 via cantwell.senate.gov.

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