Government shutdown hurts local volunteers
They are making a sacrifice to do national service and the national government is not there to help them in their time of need.
By Katherina Yancy, Reporter
(KATV) AmeriCorps is a volunteer program that allows young Americans to touch the lives of thousands. They volunteer to work for nonprofits because the federal government pays them a monthly stipend. Right now they’re working for free because of the government shutdown.
During the AmeriCorps VISTA members year of service, they work full time and can’t get another job. They’re paid about $930 a month. The idea is to live in poverty, while fighting poverty; now they are in need of help.
Our House is a shelter for the working homeless. The nonprofit is able to provide more resources, programs and outreach because of the support of the national service program, AmeriCorps VISTAS. The 11 members make up a third of the staff.
Ashley Moses drove from Georgia in August for the position. She says, “I just wanted a job where I felt I was making an impact in the community and it is personally fulfilling for me. It’s a great way to give back to my country.”
But the government shutdown now impacts her daily life. “I have my rent bills, utilities, gas and student loan payments. It’s a lot on my plate and to me it is worth it to serve but it’s hard if you don’t know you are going to get paid.”
“This jeopardizes not just their livelihood, but all of Our Houses operations.” Georgia Mjartan adds. Georgia is the Executive Director of Our House. She says AmeriCorps VISTA members coordinate the 77,000 meals a year, volunteer services, children’s programs and the adult education center. “They are making a sacrifice to do national service and the national government is not there to help them in their time of need.”
So now, Our House is asking for the public’s help. Georgia explains, “Maybe people will donate gas cards or grocery store cards or make a financial donation that we can pass along to help these young people who they themselves are here to help.”
Ashley smiles, “It really shows that they appreciate the service that we are giving and that they realize the commitment that we have made to them.” She continues, “Next Friday is when our paycheck is supposed to come through. If it doesn’t, my bank account will be zero.”
Some AmeriCorps VISTA members brought a spouse and kids with them.
You can send a monetary donation online. Click on I want my donation to be designated toward then Scroll to Support my VISTAs