Lt.Gov Joseph A. Garcia this week is distributing more than $1 million to four Colorado organizations through Serve Colorado, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service. The funding comes from AmeriCorps grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service. In July, Serve Colorado will announce additional grants supported by $2,437,386 in AmeriCorps money.
In a press release, Garcia said, “citizen service is an essential part of the solution to many of the social challenges facing our communities,” adding, “these AmeriCorps members will meet pressing local needs and strengthen our communities as they develop civic and leadership skills that can last a lifetime.”
Jenna Hansen, the volunteer generation program coordinator at Serve Colorado said she sees a variety of reasons for the increase in services requested.
“There has been an increase in the understanding of what volunteerism is and what it can do for the community as word spreads.” She said. “Also, when there are fiscal constraints AmeriCorps can help with new programs or invigorating newer projects.”
The awarded grants will go to support 359 AmeriCorps service members in a variety of projects, including conservation efforts, protecting natural resources, tutoring and providing learning opportunities for children and families in Colorado.
Yvonne Morfitt, a member of United Methodist Church of Center and a teacher at Mt. Valley School in Saguache said she is thrilled with the AmeriCorps positions they’ve been awarded. The organization was awarded almost $2,500. Morfitt says that she’s already had many people approach her, eager to participate with projects like school tutoring and protection of public lands.
“It helps create and strengthen community spirit and for a lot of students here it inspires a lot of different job avenues they might not normally consider,” she said.
“Volunteers are important in giving to the community because they generally work from the ground up, so they know the pulse of the community and can help build it from the ground up.” Hansen said.
Nationally AmeriCorps has 80,000 service members that serve 14,000 nonprofit organizations across the nation, with 4,500 members in Colorado. Serve Colorado manages 18 AmeriCorps state programs with 600 members.