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Dear Senator March 25, 2009

Dear Senator:

On behalf of our 40 million members, We strongly support the bipartisan Serve America Act (S. 277). This legislation will strengthen and expand civic engagement and volunteer opportunities to address pressing national, state and local needs, and encompasses a broad array of critical service arenas including social services, environment, health, care giving, nurturing, mentoring, intergenerational solutions, education, economic development and community development. 

AARP was founded by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus on the principle of service. Today, more than 9 million people give back through AARP - helping people find work, get tax refunds, stay healthy, access benefits, and advocate on issues important to their families. With a long service history, we are keenly aware that many potential volunteers are frustrated by a lack of capacity and infrastructure to make the best of the skills and experiences that they can contribute. 

We are particularly pleased that a section of the bill is devoted to enhancing service opportunities for persons age 50+ so that they can apply a lifetime of acquired skills to address a range of identified service needs. We encourage expanding volunteer service for older persons beyond traditional roles and enabling older volunteers to occupy important decision-making roles based on proven lifetime skills.

We are also supportive of the provisions that improve the capacity of non-profit, service and philanthropic organizations to recruit, manage and apply volunteer skills to identified service needs in this period of economic recession and lower charitable giving. The use of such tools as scholarships, fellowships and cadres of leading thinkers in service innovation are critical elements of the bill that should be enacted.  

We urge you to support this important legislation. We also urge you to reject any amendments that would weaken these provisions or the capacity for communities to identify and address the most important local concerns. As part of our ongoing effort to let our members know of action taken on key issues, we are designating this vote as an AARP key vote, and we will be informing our members how each Senator voted on this critical bill.

We look forward to working with you to improve how our country utilizes its greatest resource – the American people. If you have questions, please contact me or Larry White (202-434-3813 or lwhite@aarp.org) in our government relations unit.

Sincerely,

 

William D. Novelli

Chief Executive Officer

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