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About Senior Corps 
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Hurricane Volunteer Support Fund
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, the Corporation is coordinating volunteers to assist with repair and relief efforts in areas affected by this devastating storm. Your donation will support volunteers in providing food and shelter, managing donations, helping victims get necessary assistance, and long-term rebuilding efforts.
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USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Office of the CEO
Office of the COO

   

Message from David Eisner and Elizabeth Seale on National Service Response to Hurricane Katrina

 

Dear National Service Colleagues:

In the past week, as we marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the nation has been tested once again. Hurricane Katrina is certainly the worst natural disaster in our lifetimes, and perhaps in the life of our nation. Today, as in the days following 9/11, the importance of national service is especially clear.

Without question, the storm and its aftermath present an enormous challenge for the nation’s social services network. National emergencies have been declared in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia as a result of the storm. Hundreds of thousands of evacuees are living in shelters, many of them children; hundreds of thousands more have dispersed around the country to stay with friends and family members.

The national service family has been at the forefront of meeting this national challenge. Corporation for National and Community Service staff, programs, participants, and partners are on the ground in the Gulf Coast assisting with relief efforts and all over the country helping evacuees get the care and attention they need and deserve. We join our Board of Directors and all our leadership team in expressing our appreciation for your hard work and personal sacrifice.

The Corporation and its programs are playing a vital role in the national response to Hurricane Katrina. In the near term, that will mean helping to respond to urgent needs. To date, we have deployed thousands of National Service participants to the disaster zone and to shelter operations, in support of many of your organizations and state commissions. We are prepared to immediately reassign other national service members and volunteers to assist in the Gulf Coast and other regions of the country managing the large influx of evacuees.

The challenge, however, goes beyond the immediate recovery and relief efforts. Hurricane Katrina itself was a crisis for this country, but it also exposed another, deeper crisis. The images of poverty, racial inequity, and generational hopelessness uncovered by this storm shocked the nation. As you all know, most communities in this country include people with unmet needs. Indeed, we feel that Hurricane Katrina underscored the importance of the Corporation’s mission to foster a culture of citizenship and service to help meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.

On Saturday, September 10th, President Bush began encouraging Americans to volunteer to help with the response to this crisis by contacting USA Freedom Corps (at www.usafreedomcorps.gov or 1-877-USA-CORPS). Tomorrow in his primetime address to the nation, we expect the President to expand and strengthen that call to service, as he did after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

To help Americans answer the President’s call, all of us who work at the Corporation for National and Community Service are shifting our focus. Hurricane Katrina response is not just another task to accomplish; it is at the heart of everything we were established to accomplish. We are redeploying people and “repurposing” programs, as appropriate. In that regard, we hope every national service grantee is considering appropriate ways it could contribute to the Hurricane Katrina response.  Specifically:

  • Please review the program guidance that has been shared and be in touch with your program officer or state office on response activities you would like to undertake, either in the disaster zone or to help dislocated citizens around the country.
  • Please be sure to update your listings on the Senior Corps or AmeriCorps online recruitment systems to reflect any new Hurricane Katrina-related opportunities.
  • In addition, if your program is recruiting and managing community volunteers to assist in Katrina response, please visit the USA Freedom Corps website at www.usafreedomcorps.gov and post your volunteer opportunities with one of the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network aggregating partners as soon as possible.

Our change in focus entails some changes in how we do business. The office of the Chief Operating Officer has responsibility for managing those operational changes, but our program heads and state offices also will be able to tell you about relevant rules changes. Guidance on rules changes, daily updates on Corporation activities, and other hurricane relief information and links are on the Corporation’s website, which is being updated continually.

In addition, the President has asked the Corporation to support the task of national volunteer coordination. There is no question that local needs are best determined and met at a local level; we will do nothing to get in the way of that. The goal of national coordination, particularly as Americans answer the President’s call to service, is to drive additional resources to the organizations doing their jobs in local communities. Our role, in conjunction with USA Freedom Corps, will support and complement FEMA’s efforts, in partnership with local, state, regional, and national organizations. We intend to help match volunteers with opportunities to assist with disaster relief and recovery. Mal Coles, our Atlantic Area Manager, is managing the development of this effort out of the Washington, DC headquarters offices. We will share more information about this operation and your role in it in the days to come.

Again, we thank you for all you are doing today to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and all you do every day to support the cause of national service.

Sincerely,

David Eisner
Chief Executive Officer

Elizabeth Seale
Chief Operating Officer 

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