A Call for Renewed National Service Funding

By Jenna Widmann

National Service has long been an ally and supporter of Habitat for Humanity and thousands of other non-profits in the United States.

This year, the words “budget cuts” echo around the Hill, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) who funds programs like AmeriCorps, VISTA, City Year and Teach for America has been put on the chopping block. The Corporation’s entire existence was saved in February when National Service Alumni, non-profit sponsors and others came together and spoke to their lawmakers about the importance of service in this country.  Now, six months later, CNCS once more has a target on its back.

In order to remind Congress of the vital support National Service programs and members provide in their districts and communities, a Voices for National Service Capitol Hill Day has been scheduled. On Sept. 15, 2011, those who register for the National Service Hill Day will speak with elected leaders and explain how big a priority CNCS is to our country. To sign up for the Voices for National Service Capitol Hill Day, log on to their website and register for the event by August 26, 2011.

On Monday, Aug. 8, CNCS released research showing that in 2010, 62.8 million adults served almost 8.1 billion hours in organizations across the country. The same annual report explains that these service hours value almost $173 billion, using the Independent Sector’s estimate of dollar value of volunteer time.

In DC alone, 138,186 residents volunteered their time to local projects in 2010, contributing 16.9 million hours of service. Here at DC Habitat, we had a record 5,884 people volunteer with us by helping to build homes on our construction site, helping in the office or serving on one of our volunteer committees. In addition, since 1998, DC Habitat has been awarded 69 AmeriCorps and VISTA members who have added greatly to our organization’s capacity.  A new class of six AmeriCorps and VISTA members will begin a service year with us in September.

DC Habitat believes that everyone deserves a house they want to call home. That's why we work to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in the nation's capital by building (and rehabilitating) affordable, energy- and resource-efficient homes for people in need.