California Governor Jerry Brown celebrated two decades of the AmeriCorps national service program with volunteers at the Presidio in San Francisco this morning while President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton celebrated the 20 year anniversary with Americorps volunteers and alumni in Washington D.C.
In the Presidio, hundreds of volunteers between the ages of 18 and 25 serving in fields such as education, environmental stewardship, and public health gathered on a grassy lawn to be sworn in by Governor Brown for their year of service in California.
AmeriCorps volunteers are either embedded in non-profit organizations receiving federal funding or are the direct recipients of federally funded education scholarships.
Since AmeriCorps began 20 years ago, more than 116,000 California residents have served more than 142 million hours. Volunteers have qualified for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $332 million, according California Volunteers, the state office that works with AmeriCorps to get people involved in community service.
The governor applauded current and past AmeriCorps volunteers today for the impact they have made over the last 20 years of service and the impact he assures them they will make everyday in the communities they serve.
“There is a lot of things you can be worried about,” he said, citing political issues in Washington, European stagnation and global conflicts.
He encouraged new volunteers not to worry about the things they can’t change, but to instead take action and be engaged in the communities, neighborhoods and blocks where they serve.
“Where you can have an impact is right where you are,” Brown said.
He said the newest group of volunteers is keeping up a tradition of national service that dates back to the Great Depression.
Brown highlighted the legacy of the Civilian Conservations Corps, created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, which served as a model for the California Conservation Corps, which he signed into law in 1976.
Among the California Conservation Corps volunteers at the swearing in ceremony today was 26-year-old David Noe Espinoza, a Los Angeles resident who has been serving as a member of the Backcountry Trails Program for the last five months and is currently stationed in the Stanislaus National Forest’s Emigrant Wilderness.
Espinoza made the trek to San Francisco after he was chosen to serve as an ambassador at today’s celebration and represent one of the 42 programs that make up AmeriCorps in California.
Espinoza has one more week of trail maintenance ahead of him before he goes to the California Conservation Corps’ Camarillo Center in Southern California. Once there, he will join one of two initial-attack firefighting crews working under the direction of CalFire.
He said his time in the backcountry has impacted him greatly and may even result in his pursuit of a different field of study when he returns to college with the scholarship money he is earning through the program.
Other non-profit organizations that host AmeriCorps volunteers including Silicon Valley Health Corps, Playworks and City Year were among the programs recognized today for their dedication to service at today’s ceremony.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News