Sunday, May 20, 2007

Loebsack highlights Americorps Week by touring Iowa programs

Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack spent his Saturday recognizing Americorps Week, visiting Iowa programs that benefit from the efforts of Americorps volunteers.

One of the stops on Loebsack's schedule was in Centerville, at the headquarters of The Abilities Fund, a non-profit organization that works to assist people with disabilities in starting their own small businesses.

Americorps Vista volunteers, usually recent graduates of Iowa universities, are regularly employed by the Abilities Fund to assist clients with disabilities fulfill their dreams of becoming self-sufficient entrepreneurs.

Abilities Fund Executive Director Patti Lind, pictured above with Loebsack, explained how important Americorps Vista volunteers are to the success of her program. "The Abilities Fund would not be here without Americorps Vista," said Lind. She thanked Loebsack and Congress in general for continuing to support funding for Americorps programs.

A freshman representative in his first year in Congress, Loebsack said he would continue to support the program. "I haven't given very many speeches yet in Congress," said Loebsack. "But I recently gave a speech on the floor of the House in support of Americorps."

Americorps was created in 1993, when President Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act. As a result, a national network of service programs was created, and the pre-existing VISTA program and the National Civilian Community Corps were incorporated into the fold.

Nationwide, these programs help get over 70,000 volunteers each year connected to programs where they can serve .

To put it simply, said Loebsack, "it's like the Peace Corps, but serving domestically in the United States."

This first-ever Americorps Week, held May 13-20, was organized as a way to recognize Americorps members for their service and to recruit more Americans into the program.

The weeklong celebration was held to provide an opportunity for Americorps members, alumni, donors and partners to raise awareness about what they've accomplished and to motivate more Americans to do community service work.

To learn more about Americorps and the opportunities it provides, check their website here.

Click this link for more information about The Abilities Fund and how it serves to help people with disabilities start their own small businesses.

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