I rise today in support of this amendment which will create a National Service Reserve Corps. In recent years we have watched with broken hearts when the aftermath of some natural disaster has left people homeless, jobless, and helpless. But we have also felt, as we witnessed our fellow citizens rise to the occasion with perseverance and selflessness to assist those in need, a real hope for the future. Many wonderful Americans, including Members of this body, have reached into their hearts and their pockets to help, to serve, to work, and to give.
The creation of a National Service Reserve Corps will make sure that those who are most eager to serve, and already have the training that communities need, can be deployed quickly and effectively.
Our amendment will create a National Service Reserve Corps composed of alumni of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. These wonderful volunteers can be identified and called upon in times of natural disasters and emergencies to start the relief and rebuilding process post haste. The Corps members will not only have the valuable training and experience from their year of service, but they will also receive annual training sessions in emergency response.
Our nation is facing numerous economic challenges and Nevada, my state, is one of the hardest hit. We have endured record foreclosures and an unemployment rate that is approaching double digits. Nevada AmeriCorps volunteers have been invaluable to our communities in need. Over 2,000 AmeriCorps members have served in 15 different programs. They have provided more than 2.5 million hours of service and have earned over $4.7 million in education credits. In 2007, AmeriCorps programs contributed over 25,000 hours of service to Nevada and members recruited over 3,300 community volunteers who then gave more than 23,000 hours of service.
With public need rising all across the country, we must do all we can to shore up volunteer programs and to provide opportunities to those who want to be of service. By creating a National Service Reserve Corps, we will create an organized deployment system for those citizens who are ready to serve and trained to do so. We will also show volunteers, and anyone considering a year of national service, that we value their contribution, and will continue to honor it in years to come.
I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment as well as final passage of the GIVE Act.