Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentuckians Pledge to Get Things Done through AmeriCorps; 450 Kentucky members take part in national pledge to launch service year
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2014) – Today in a nationwide, simultaneous swearing-in of AmeriCorps members and alumni, 450 Kentuckians from across the state gathered in Louisville to pledge to “get things done” as they begin a year of service to their communities.
President Barack Obama led the pledge via simulcast for the 75,000 first- and second-year program members across the country, and Kentucky’s members took part from the KFC Yum! Center plaza. The ceremony also marked the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps. The event highlighted the commitment and impact of AmeriCorps members over the past 20 years and showcased how AmeriCorps has grown through innovative public-private partnerships that meet critical community needs and expanding opportunities for those who serve.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said the spotlight of the national induction shows the great impact of individual programs.
“The Kentucky AmeriCorps programs have gotten stronger each year, as more Kentuckians choose to serve the Commonwealth and their country,” Gov. Beshear said. “For 20 years, Kentucky AmeriCorps members have been making a difference.”
Beshear also proclaimed the day “AmeriCorps Day” in Kentucky.
AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the bipartisan, governor-appointed Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps members serve faith-based and nonprofit organizations with critical educational, environmental and safety needs. Kentucky organizations receiving grants are dedicated to efforts such as teaching and tutoring children, combatting homelessness, providing drug resistance education, empowering victims of domestic violence, educating the community on disaster preparedness, promoting post-secondary opportunities, offering financial literacy resources and assisting low-income elderly.
AmeriCorps provides service opportunities to members on a full-time (1,700 hours of service per year) or on a less than full-time basis. Members ranging in age from 18 to 80 have signed on for a year of service to their communities and received training to equip them to fulfill their service assignments.
Since its inception in 1994, more than 900,000 men and women have served in AmeriCorps nationally, providing more than 1.2 billion hours of service addressing critical challenges from poverty and hunger to disasters and the dropout crisis. To date, more than 9,400 Kentucky residents have served more than 14 million hours and have received qualified education scholarships totaling more than $32.5 million.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, congratulated the 2014 AmeriCorps members and said the celebration recognized the impact of all members’ extraordinary accomplishments.
“For two decades, AmeriCorps has provided thousands of Kentuckians a direct avenue to help their neighbors and serve their communities,” Yarmuth said. “Whether they’re tutoring children or working with victims of domestic violence, helping our homeless citizens or sitting down with seniors, AmeriCorps volunteers are building a stronger future for themselves and our Commonwealth.”
CHFS Deputy Secretary Eric Friedlander said one of the reasons AmeriCorps is so successful is that it expands educational and economic opportunity.
“For those pursuing a college education, what an impact this funding has made,” Friedlander said. “It can mean the difference between getting a degree and becoming a local leader, and dropping out.”
KCCVS Executive Director Joe Bringardner said AmeriCorps is a cost-effective solution to some of Kentucky’s toughest challenges.
“AmeriCorps members make remarkable contributions to Kentucky, and on this anniversary, I am proud to see the enthusiasm on the faces of the members at today’s swearing in,” he said. “Building on Kentucky’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members have improved countless lives across the Commonwealth over the past two decades.”
Bringardner said that in addition to performing community service tasks, members also recruit local volunteers to help ensure programs and progress continue after members complete their terms of service.
“AmeriCorps is strengthening the impact of our community groups,” he said. “Our members have expanded services and developed sustainable community programs through creative partnerships. Kentucky AmeriCorps is poised for even greater impact and growth as we look toward our next 20 years.”
For more information about AmeriCorps or the KCCVS, please visit www.volunteerKY.ky.gov.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state’s human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.