Great Community Support for AmeriCorps in Kitsap County
A joyous AmeriCorps Recognition celebration was held on August 30th, hosted by Kitsap Community Resources (KCR). The theme was Hollywood, as was obvious by the festive decorations and flashy attire of the over 30 AmeriCorps members honored for their year of service. Some members had served two terms and many others were opting for a second term.
Also present were family members and friends, representatives from the seven host agencies, KCR board members and staff, and many community leaders. These leaders included state legislators, a city council member, the mayor of Bremerton, the county treasurer and president of Rotary, and other supporters that felt a strong connection to their community through AmeriCorps. I sat at the same table with several of these leaders, who were appalled that funding for their AmeriCorps programs was in jeopardy and vowed to let Washington D.C. know how they felt and not give up the fight to preserve and expand opportunities to serve.
One of the speakers was Drew Hansen, a state representative who voiced his support for AmeriCorps and the accomplishments of the members. He urged the members to take advantage of opportunities like AmeriCorps to experiment with various career paths and new ideas.
The keynote speaker was Derek Kilmer, state senator and candidate for Washington State’s 6th Congressional District. Derek expressed his admiration for the important work done by AmeriCorps members and the critical role they play in building communities that care about people and people that care about their community. He shared various stories from his life about the role a caring community played in supporting his family, what he learned from others who gave of themselves through community service, and how that influenced his own life.
I later interviewed Derek, who said that the community building work done by AmeriCorps members was crucial and should be continued and expanded. When asked what citizens could do to ensure that funding for these programs continues, he responded that constituents need to let their members of congress know how important these programs are to their communities and that he would work to protect and grow funding, if he is elected to Congress. He sported a big smile when I gave him his “Expand National Service” tee-shirt.
It was a very inspirational event, not to mention how delicious the lunch was. My job has some great perks!