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Commission signs letter backing volunteer programs

Importance of volunteerism noted by county commissioners

POSTED May 16, 2017 1:55 p.m.

 The Barton County Commission, citing the importance of volunteerism and the county’s support of civic involvement, approved Monday morning signing a letter of support for continued funding of the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

CNCS programs engage over 344,000 Americans at 50,000-plus locations annually, and the letter reminds congressional appropriations committees of this, said Linn Hogg, RSVP of Central Kansas/Volunteers in Action director. Local programs under the CNCS umbrella include Meals On Wheels, Medical Transportation, SHICK (Medicare Counseling) and AARP Tax Aid program.   

“I would like to thank you for all of your generous support through the Medical Transportation program,” Hogg said. “I brag to other Senior Corps directors (in Kansas and Missouri) about the wonderful collaboration that exists in Barton County. I note how well we all work together to serve the needs of the community without duplicating services.”

That collaboration is seen in so many areas throughout Barton County, she said. “Now I am asking for another form of collaboration. This form would be in signing a letter of support to our federal government.”

 In signing this letter, Hogg said the county will join other county and city executives across the United States asking that the funds used to support programs like RSVP, Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents be preserved. It states that American voters overwhelmingly support the federal investment in CNCS and that it is a smart public investment,she said. 

It goes on to state that for every $10 in federal money appropriated for CNCS, another $15 is separately raised from other sources (like this county) to fund national service partnerships in urban, rural and suburban communities nationwide, she said. “This letter urges the appropriations committees to protect funding for CNCS, which is an investment that continues to strengthen our communities, our people and our nation.”

However, CNCS funding was slated to be “zeroed out” of the federal budget, Hogg said. That would mean no more hot meals and wellness checks provided by Meals on Wheels and no more volunteers to help with blood drives, the RSVP Thrift Store and other programs. Last year, 442 volunteers put in 39,000 hours.

“This is a win-win,” Hogg said. Not only do the needy get served, but the volunteers, many elderly, have a chance to get out and be active and involved in their communities.

“We want to send this message to the government,” Hogg said. There is bipartisan support for this program that offers a four-times return on the investment.

“These all are such values to our community,” Commissioner Alicia Straub said of the work done by RSVP. With an aging and dwindling population, we must do what we can to help our own.

This is an instance where Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said it is good to be part of county government. “We are close enough to see the benefits.”

Sadly, higher up on the governmental ladder, folks lose touch. “I hope this letter does some good.”

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