From earliest frontier times, Americans have put great stock in helping one's neighbor. Now, with the recent award of just under $3 million in federal grants to support local community service programs, Maryland has moved to the forefront of efforts to encourage the volunteer spirit.
The money is part of some $70 million in awards disbursed nationally this year by the Commission on National and Community Service, the federal agency charged with turning President Bush's 1988 call for a surge of volunteerism that would be like a "thousand points of light" into practical reality. At the heart of the volunteerist philosophy lies the belief that every individual has the capacity to contribute to the common good and that the benefits of such altruism accrue to those who are helped and those who help alike.
This year, the Maryland Conservation and Youth Service Corps, which gives 600 disadvantaged youths summer jobs helping clean up the environment, will receive $1.1 million to conduct programs year 'round. Part of the money will be used to train volunteers as park rangers, emergency response workers and preservationists on projects involving historic buildings on state property.