Today was AmeriCorps Day on Hill. With me at the Capitol was LaDawn Stoddard, Director of UServeUtah, Lt. Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, and many of the AmeriCorps program directors who were engaged in training and public outreach and education with legislators.
I currently have the opportunity to serve as a Commissioner with UServeUtah and have become very familiar and impressed with the various programs they administer. I want to take a minute to introduce two important initiatives that are at the forefront of their work and help to make Utah the number one state in the nation for volunteerism. In fact, the volunteer rate in Utah is almost double that of the national average, with 43% of residents volunteering. The number of volunteer hours per Utah resident, at 75 hours a year, is more than double the national average of 31 hours a year.
Many of you may be familiar with JustServe.org, a community service initiative designed for individuals, families, and groups to find opportunities to serve those in need. The website was recently rolled out in Utah through a partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and UServeUtah and has seen amazing results. If you haven’t had a chance to explore the JustServe.org website or app, I would encourage you to take a minute to become familiar with it and possibly find a volunteer opportunity of your own.
UServeUtah also oversees the AmeriCorps program throughout the state. This program works to address critical community needs and improve the quality of life in Utah. Every year numerous individuals choose to give of their time and talents to serve Utah communities through AmeriCorps programs in our non-profits, schools and government agencies. These AmeriCorps members work in areas that include;
- tutoring and mentoring youth,
- connecting underserved populations to health care resources,
- cleaning and tending public lands,
- providing services to the homeless,
- teaching environmental stewardship,
- helping seniors maintain independence,
- operating after-school STEM programs, and
- helping communities prepare for and respond to disasters
- AmeriCorps members from Utah are currently serving in Texas and Florida helping with cleanup from the devastating 2017 storms.
One example is the Utah State University-based Utah Conservation Corps (UCC), shown below, who welcomed back two crews from Texas and Florida who completed disaster response projects in December, 2017 and then on January 6, UCC deployed twenty more individuals to Florida for Hurricane Irma disaster response. This is the third deployment from UCC in the last six months in response to the hurricanes that hit the east coast earlier this year. The UCC AmeriCorps members will be based out of Fort Myers and will return on February 18th.
Over 1,650 AmeriCorps members are currently serving with 400 organizations across the state. The work accomplished by these members is impressive. In 2017 AmeriCorps members provided services to 112,279 clients and recruited 17,669 volunteers who served 137,541 hours. The total economic impact of the resources leveraged through AmeriCorps to the State of Utah in 2017 was over $15.5 million.
We hosted AmeriCorps program directors in the House gallery today representing AmeriCorps programs around the state. They also provided an opportunity for legislators to visit with them during lunch to discuss the projects in their districts being served by AmeriCorps volunteers. Thank you to all throughout Utah who consistently make a difference in their communities by volunteering. We appreciate you. We need you. And we thank you.