I have somehow refrained from mentioning this so far. My silence will be no longer!
In early February, the President released the proposed 2007 budget. The budget included a reduction for all of AmeriCorps, and only a few million for my program, the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). This money is to SHUT DOWN the program entirely.
Those of you who know me, or have read my blog for awhile, know that NCCC was an incredible and life-changing experience. Thousands of my alumni around the country agree with me. The possibility of this program existing no longer is just too painful to think about, and it's unacceptable.
A website has been set up, savenccc.org. There are links to "Find your Congressional Representatives" as well as sample letters or messages to send them.
Even if you've never done the program, or never met anyone who's done it, please take some time to learn more, either at the above site, or at the official NCCC site. Once you've done that, please take a few minutes to send at least an email to your state's representative or senator. If you're like me and have origins/family in another state, contact those reps too.
While the program does not bring in money, the work that comes of it is priceless. We work with organizations that could not continue or offer as much without our help. It costs nothing to have a strong and motivated team of ten to twelve young people to charge in and get some things done.
In particular, one of the most incredible aspects of the program is the partnership with the Red Cross. Because teams are mobile and have very few belongings, corps members can be called immediately to respond to natural disasters. Both times I went, I had notice overnight, but another time, two teammates had a mere two hours' notice before they had to go. No other organization or group gets people on the ground that quickly or effectively.
Here are excerpts from a recent emailing:
NCCC Set to Deploy Large Contingent to Gulf Region
AmeriCorps*NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), the team-based AmeriCorps program for young adults, announced today that 18 teams of 10 to 12 members each have recently begun work on more than a dozen projects related to hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region.
Among the projects: mucking out flooded homes with AmeriCorps Alums and Hands On Network at the Hands On New Orleans and Hands On Gulf Coast sites; building homes with three Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Louisiana and Florida; and supporting the work of the AmeriCorps St. Louis program in Pass Christian, Mississippi, which has made a yearlong commitment to help in a variety of ways rebuild the coastal town as part of the Corporation’s partnership with the ABC television show “Good Morning America”;
“Katrina relief and recovery is the highest priority of the NCCC program in fiscal 2006,” said Merlene Mazyck, Director of AmeriCorps*NCCC. “Currently, approximately 30 percent of NCCC resources are focused on supporting Katrina recovery efforts, and we expect to maintain this level of support throughout the ’06 fiscal year.”
Recently, NCCC has decided to expand its Gulf Coast Relief effort by deploying nearly 80% of its available member force throughout 2006. NCCC leaders gathered last week in New Orleans to finalize the deployment and logistics strategy for the large scale effort.
Congresswomen Matsui Spearheads Dear Colleague Letter
On Monday, March 6, 2007 a Dear Colleague letter was released by Congresswomens Matsui, DeGette, Holmes Norton, and Congressman Gilchrest- in it they strongly voiced their support for NCCC. An excerpt is as follows:
We are writing to express our concern regarding the proposed cut of the Americorps*National Civilian Community Corp (NCCC) in the President’s FY 07 Budget. As you are aware, there are five campuses in the United States that serves as both a wonderful place for young people to get involved with their community, and necessary aid for hundreds of communities across the country. It is with that in mind that we respectfully request that the Budget Committee include $25.5 million, the same as requested in FY 06, to continue funding this program.
You can help bolster this effort by urging your congressperson to support the Dear Colleague Letter. For more information on how to contact your congressperson and seek their support, please click here now. AmeriCorps Alums recommends that you that you fax in this request to your Congressperson, as this is the most likely way for your congressional representatives to take note of the correspondence.
Senate and House Appropriations Committees to Begin Mark-ups
Members of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committees are expected to begin the process for arriving at the FY 2007 Federal Budget when mark-up sessions begin in late March to early April. This process is a major indicator of Congress' funding priorities for the year ahead. In order to effectively make headway in our SAVE NCCC Campaign, it is critical that we communicate to Congress the value of NCCC. Please contact the members of both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees immediately.
To view a list of members belonging to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, please click here.
To view a list of members belonging to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, please click here.
Find and Contact your Elected Officials