Save Americorps

J. Scott Madsen is an Americorps NCCC alumnus and a Chico State junior pursuing degrees in Spanish and international relations.

I disagree with many of the cuts President Bush has proposed in his budget for fiscal year 2007, but one of the most distressing is the decimation of the funding for the Corporation for National Service (CNS). I am particularly bothered by the cuts affecting the Americorps programs, especially the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), in which I served.

The proposed cuts are in complete disregard to President Bush’s “Call to Service” campaign enacted post 9-11, encouraging Americans to complete 4,000 hours of service to their communities in their lifetime. The president’s proposed budget contradicts that goal by completely eliminating the NCCC, a program that enables the youth of our country to begin fulfilling that mission.

When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Americorps NCCC members were one of the first groups in the area, working in cooperation with the Red Cross and later FEMA. Without their rapid and dedicated response, many U.S. citizens would have waited even longer for help.

I joined Americorps NCCC at 18, just after graduating from high school in Chico. I wasn’t ready for a career or college life, but wanted to leave home and strike out on my own. Americorps NCCC gave me the opportunity to achieve much more than I could have working at a minimum-wage job. I served in two consecutive 10-month programs of Americorps NCCC in the Midwest region. My completion of nearly 5,000 service hours in various communities provided the experience of a lifetime. Not only did I benefit from the wide variety of people I met and projects I participated in, I received education awards that I will use toward a year of studying abroad in Spain. Although our service periods may have been relatively short, our efforts and the appreciation of those we helped made a permanent impact on my life. How can the Bush administration consider this program ineffective and expendable?

Like many alumni of Americorps NCCC, I am very passionate about what the program stands for and the valuable experience it provided me. We cannot allow this program to disappear without a fight. Americorps NCCC is the equivalent to a “domestic Peace Corps,” providing a positive, rewarding path for many young adults.

The Americorps programs have only scratched the surface in its short, 12 years of existence. Visit and learn how you can join in the effort to keep this program alive and flourishing so many more Americans can participate in and benefit from the experience. I urge all of you to please call your House and Senate representatives to vote “no” on slashing the funding for the Freedom Corps, and eliminating necessary and useful programs such as the NCCC.