Don’t cut AmeriCorps, Senior Corps

I completely agree with President Trump who said in the State of the Union address last week that we need to cut the exploding federal budget.

But I couldn’t disagree more with recent news reports that one way to do this is to cut AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

Elimination of these essential national service programs would have a huge impact on our state.

It would devastate organizations like Teach for America, Communities in Schools and Habitat for Humanity that rely on AmeriCorps members to serve children, families and communities up and down our state.

And it would virtually eliminate the roles of our 30,000 Senior Corps members, all 55 years of age or older, who help frail elderly Texans stay in their homes, mentor youth in our rural schools, and manage volunteers in times of disaster.

AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members responded to seven disasters last year alone, helping families relocate after flooding and tornadoes, and staying for the long-haul to rebuild their communities.

Members of Congress will be under tremendous pressure to cut federal spending, but national service is not the place to do it.

It is a rare concept that prepares young people for the workforce, restores important values of patriotism and civic duty, helps build stronger neighborhoods and communities, and empowers people to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the government in the long run.

And for all this tremendous value, it has no real impact on overall federal spending.

The total funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the little-known federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, is .029 percent (less than three hundredths of one percent).

Especially here in the Rio Grande Valley, we are all directly or indirectly beneficiaries of these programs!

Thousands of students’ education has been positively affected by Teach for America corps members over 20+ years in the Valley via AmeriCorps!

The Senior Companion, Foster Grandparent, and RSVP programs are other senior programs also well known throughout the Valley, and we’re very well familiar with the need for disaster relief training.

National service has an eight decade history of strong bipartisan legislative support on both the national and local level – including hundreds of Texas mayors and county officials who last year joined together in support of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

I’m counting on the Trump Administration and our Texas Congressional delegation to continue that support.

Bonnie Brown Raymondville