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CNCS is a real bargain
Cutting volunteer programs a step in the wrong direction
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 On Friday, Feb. 17, the New York Times reported that the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that supports the AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, has been included on a list of federal agencies to be eliminated in the FY 2018 federal budget. 

This is unfortunate for it is the CNCS that mobilizes tens of thousands of people annually, including right here in Barton and Pawnee counties, who are working together to provide critical services to communities in need. This willingness of our citizens to come together — to engage deeply in our communities — and create real change is what makes us special. 

Speaking of our backyard, RSVP of Central Kansas falls under Senior Corps. It is sponsored by Barton Community College which helps with grant match as well as provides fiscal management for the grant. Other match sources come from Barton County and United Way of Central Kansas.

But, it is the federal money is what helps to maintain a staff that manages around 442 volunteers who put in over 39,374 hours in 126 different volunteer jobs. 

This is a heck of a task. Here is a brief overview what this involves:

• RSVP staff recruits and maintains the volunteers that deliver hot meals and provide a personal visit to our homebound seniors five days a week. This is not only a hot meal but a wellness check.

• RSVP staff recruits and maintains the volunteers that provide medical transportation at no charge to Barton County residents. These volunteers make trips, almost 800 last year, with clients to Hoisington, Hays, Hutchinson, Salina, Wichita, Larned, Pratt and even Kansas City.  

• RSVP maintains and provides volunteers for: Medicare counseling, free tax preparation, Talk/Listen/Care, blood mobiles and the Hoisington RSVP Thrift Store.

Plus, RSVP staff recruits as needed volunteers to help with various city,  county and non-profit agencies  episodic volunteer jobs.

In addition, RSVP’s sister programs Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions based out of Hays serve in the area helping other seniors and children.

“The heart of RSVP is to keep our retirees or soon to be retirees out of their homes and into the community,” said RSVP Director Linn Hogg. “Being active means staying healthier physically and mentally. The outcome is that are community is stronger because of their time, talents and caring. It is such a win-win program.” 

Senator Jerry Moran sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee which makes decisions and recommendations about programs like CNCS. Feel free to contact his office and let them know how important these programs are.

This triple bottom line: uniting Americans of all backgrounds, offering a transformative opportunity to those who serve, and bringing unprecedented skills and willpower to solve local problems, is what makes national service so powerfully unique — and essential.   

Dale Hogg