Expansive Advocacy

“We don’t help others because they are Catholic; we help them because we are.”

This Catholic Charities principle helps me trust in the power of Christian witness.  It informs my embrace of ecumenism and partnership with secular efforts.  It affirms that faith is strongest when expansive and inclusive.

I am in good company because you have a spirit of openness and creative relationship, especially in welcoming volunteers of different or no faith.  Now, I invite you build upon that as a program and network. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this is the time for CVN to expand its understanding of calling within the national service movement and influence efforts to help the country recover.  

You know the struggles young people graduating from higher education institutions are facing.  This reality presents an opportunity to put faith in action by partnering with others.  And we have precedent to help guide us.  Tom Branen, with America’s Service Commissions, is a CVN board member who is reminding policy makers about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration (NYA).

The CCC was a voluntary public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men ages 18–25.  It was the most popular of all the New Deal programs.  An individual’s enrollment in the CCC was believed to lead to improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability.  The NYA assisted young Americans during tumultuous times to prevent them from falling victim to current hardships, and to maintain their potential for future achievement and societal contribution.  Young people were provided with work experience and learning-by-doing training in a wide variety of fields.

Now is the time to make similar commitments as a nation.  Now is the time for CVN members to use your credibility and commitment to help advocate for this investment.

Several members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced legislation to expand national service programs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act would fund 750,000 national service positions over a three-year response and recovery period, in part to meet the projected need for as many as 300,000 public health workers. The number of AmeriCorps and national service positions could expand from 75,000 to 150,000 the first year and double to 300,000 in years two and three. The bill would also raise the living allowance and tie the value of the Segal Education Award to the cost of two years of public university tuition.  Both would be nontaxable. More information is HERE.

CVN joins Voices for National Service, America’s Service Commissions, The Corps Network, and over a hundred other organizations in supporting this effort.  CVN urges member programs to support this legislation because it can: 1) increase the impact service has on our country’s recovery; 2) empower committed volunteers; and 3) help you and us provide more leadership.  Moreover, because CVN will be applying for several AmeriCorps grants this year, this legislation may allow you and volunteers to benefit from those grant programs.

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Over a decade ago, when the Serve America Act was being consider in the U.S. Senate, Senator Orin Hatch of Utah reflected on the impact on himself and others during his two years as a Mormon Missionary.  He said that “service is about solving problems in our Nation, and bringing real hope and impact on the ground in our communities with real accountability for results.”

You already do that: solve problems, bring hope, have impact.  I invite you to use your voice to help the service movement – with many diverse partners – do more of that.  Whether or not a future CVN/AmeriCorps relationship may be relevant for your program, please support expansion of national service.  That will empower more people and communities to be transformed through service.

Do this because of faith that knows no boundaries.  Do this because you trust your witness to help in ways seen and unseen.

PLEASE ACT NOW TO SUPPORT THIS EFFORT: click here for more information.

With you in service,

Yonce Shelton
Executive Director


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