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Successful AmeriCorps ought to be expanded | READER COMMENTARY

In this Sept. 12, 2014 file photo, as President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton mark the 20th anniversary of the AmeriCorps national service program, hundreds of new volunteers are sworn in for duty at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this Sept. 12, 2014 file photo, as President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton mark the 20th anniversary of the AmeriCorps national service program, hundreds of new volunteers are sworn in for duty at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Michael Thomas Duffy and Jack Pannell make a compelling case for increasing the number of AmeriCorps members in their commentary, “AmeriCorps service nurtures civic duty” (March 19). My experiences as a campus director for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps at Aberdeen Proving Ground in the program’s early years and subsequent stints with AmeriCorps Team for the Games at the 1996 Olympics and the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service & Volunteerism during the Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Martin O’Malley administrations allow me to describe even more reasons to boost the program.

The op-ed focuses on college graduates participating in AmeriCorps. The good news is that national and community service also is a valuable experience for those students who want to earn their GEDs, college students who want to take a gap year and non-college bound young adults.

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Many AmeriCorps programs like the National Civilian Community Corps have their corps members serve in teams of 6-to-12 young people. These corps members come from urban, rural and suburban areas. They are of different races, ethnic groups and cultures and from a wide range of income and educational levels. They spend nearly a year together. They learn firsthand how to work together, problem-solve and understand their diverse backgrounds.

Some AmeriCorps programs such as the highly-successful Civic Works in Baltimore concentrate their service projects in specific communities. Other such as the NCCC recruit corps members from a national pool of applicants and do their service nationwide. AmeriCorps members help rehab and make homes energy efficient, tutor and mentor students. They respond to distressed communities after hurricanes, floods and wildfires. They reduce and provide prevention services to tackle the opioid epidemic, assist with services to military veterans and homeless people, and much more.

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As Maryland and America face the tough issues of COVID-19, racism, income inequality, political divisiveness, climate change, lack of access to adequate health care and drug treatment, and a seismic shift in the labor market and workforce development, a major expansion of AmeriCorps opportunities offers a positive track record in helping and healing our nation.

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

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