AmeriCorps alum: Don't cut service organizations

March 02, 2011

I am a graduate student, AmeriCorps alum and the first in my family to attend college. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA despite working full-time and part-time jobs. Even with scholarships I still needed loans to attend college. Due to massive amounts of unemployment and budget cuts, the job market for recent grads is incredibly tight. I still have to pay my bills and loans regardless.

AmeriCorps helped me do this and continues to help college graduates across the nation. In return, the country gets young energetic volunteers to do much needed work in communities for very little money. The volunteers are provided a small stipend to perform services that would otherwise cost many times this amount. While serving my country, I traveled to the poorest counties in the U.S. While in South Dakota, I worked on reservation land for Habitat for Humanity and I worked in low income communities helping to organize vocational training programs for at-risk youth.

This program and programs like it define our nation. We must prioritize service during a time of need like this. We cannot afford to cut programs that give so much to our communities. Maryland will lose $36.7 million for AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve, Foster Grandparents, etc. That equals hundreds if not thousands of jobs in our communities. That is our elders and youth losing money they cannot afford to lose.

Why are we cutting funding from programs and people that need it the most? What does this say about our values? We are the richest nation in history with some of the highest income disparities. We can afford these programs despite the recession. We need these programs now more than ever. Take the money from somewhere else, like the top 1 percent who control the majority of the wealth in this country.

Dominique Marsalek, Frederick

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