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AARP’s One-Minute Guide to National and Community Service

What’s at Stake?

Recovery from the economic crisis will require more than investing in infrastructure projects and shoring up social services. It will mean summoning the spirit of the American people, in every community, to help their neighbors and solve problems. National service legislation—the House G.I.V.E. Act (H.R. 1388) and the Senate Serve America Act (S. 277)—takes on critical importance. Now pending in Congress, these bills would mobilize and encourage Americans of all ages to serve their neighbors, their communities, and their country. More specifically, these bills would create, under the Corporation for National and Community Services, expanded service opportunities and would restructure or reauthorize existing national service programs.

This legislation would strengthen and expand civic engagement and volunteer opportunities to address pressing national, state, and local needs. It would also encompass a broad array of critical service arenas, including social services, the environment, health, caregiving, nurturing, mentoring, intergenerational solutions, education, and economic and community development.

Both bills also contain a Volunteer Generation Fund, which would improve the capacity of nonprofit, service, and philanthropic organizations to recruit, manage, and engage more volunteers—including those with specific skills—to help address people’s critical and growing service needs.

The House passed its bill (H.R. 1388), and this week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on its bill (S. 277).

With its long history of service, AARP is aware that many potential volunteers are frustrated by a lack of capacity and infrastructure to make the best use of the skills and experiences that they can contribute. The organization has a particular interest in H.R. 1388 and in S. 277, because they would improve service opportunities for Americans age 50+, so that they could apply their lifetimes of acquired skills to help remedy a range of identified service needs. AARP—an organization made up of people age 50 and over—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.

At a time of economic crisis, this legislation would help summon the growing spirit of service in America and will give more of our country’s greatest resource—its people—the chance to help their neighbors, their communities, and their country.

AARP Position

AARP strongly supports both bills, H.R. 1388 and S. 277, and their provisions to strengthen and expand civic engagement and volunteer opportunities to address pressing national, state, and local needs.

Legislative Timeline

The House has passed its bill (H.R. 1388) and the Senate is scheduled to vote on its bill (S. 277) this week. AARP will be pushing for passage of the Senate bill and final enactment of national service legislation this spring.

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