National Service provides thousands of Americans of all ages, abilities and backgrounds with intensive full- and part-time opportunities to serve their communities and build the capacity of grassroots organizations to meet local environmental, educational, public safety, or other human needs.
The Utah Commission on Volunteers, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, brings National Service programs to Utah. Programs operate in almost every region of the state, bringing much needed support and training to rural and urban Utah. When faced with challenges, our nation has always relied on the dedication and action of its citizens. Citizens, who proudly serve as national-service members, have an immense impact on quality of life in America and in other countries. They have pulled America through hard times, strengthened relationships among diverse peoples and communities, and made a major difference in our country's development.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps which recruited over four million young people and provided billions of dollars worth of support to communities. Through 11 years of the Great Depression, CCC members restored the nation's parks, revitalized the economy, enabled millions of families to live in dignity, and developed new skills to support themselves and their families. Inspired by the CCC model, over a thousand AmeriCorps* National Civilian Community Corps members are at work today on special urban and rural projects.
The 1960s also saw the birth of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) which organizes efforts to help low-income citizens and communities mobilize efforts to address their challenges. One initiative to engage older Americans in service grew into the National Senior Service Corps, which now includes the Foster Grandparents Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
On March 31, 2009 the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was passed. This bill focuses on significantly expanding and improving opportunities for utilizing National Service to meet specific national challenges. Pressing challenges such as tackling the dropout crisis and strengthening our schools; improving energy efficiency; safeguarding the environment; improving health care in low-income communities; expanding economic opportunities for low-income individuals; and preparing for and responding to disasters and emergencies.
President Obama, reflecting on the passage of the new legislation said “Our work is not finished when I sign this bill into law – it has just begun. It is up to each of us to seize this opportunity, to do our part to lift up our fellow Americans, to realize our own true potential. I call on all Americans to stand up and do what they can to serve their communities, shape our history and enrich both their own lives and the lives of others across this country.”