Nearly 1000 Illinoisans are dedicating themselves to a year of aiding their communities through national service. The volunteers were sworn in at a ceremony held at the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield, marking the 16th anniversary of the AmeriCorps program.
Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed October 15, 2009, as National Service Recognition Day in the State of Illinois, and congratulated Illinois' AmeriCorps and the National Service family of programs, both past and present, on their service in strengthening communities through volunteerism in the State of Illinois.
"AmeriCorps is an excellent opportunity for people to volunteer their time and talents and give something back to their communities," said Ted Gibbs, Executive Director of the Serve Illinois Commission. "Illinois has a strong tradition of volunteerism and compassion for those in need. AmeriCorps volunteers make a real difference in the communities in which they serve."
More than 72,000 people of all ages and backgrounds are serving in 144 national service projects across Illinois. This includes 2,000 AmeriCorps volunteers, 18,000 Senior Corps volunteers and over 52,000 Learn and Serve America students.
National Service Members serve their communities by improving education, protecting public safety, improving health care, safeguarding the environment, providing disaster relief and promoting civic engagement.
The Serve Illinois Commission, part of the Illinois Department of Human Services, administers the AmeriCorps* State programs in Illinois Commission and is charged with enhancing and supporting community volunteerism in all its forms.
Serve Illinois is funded by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. The Serve Illinois Commission currently supports 30 AmeriCorps programs throughout the state.
AmeriCorps members dedicate a year to helping communities meet their unmet human service, education, public safety or environmental needs. They receive a modest living allowance, student loan deferment and training. Full-time members are also eligible to receive health insurance. Members who successfully complete their service receive an educational award of up to $4,725 to help pay for college, graduate school, vocational training or to pay off student loans.
Last year, the commission unveiled the Serve Illinois website - www.Serve.Illinois.gov - a valuable resource for volunteer opportunities statewide. The website serves as a primary resource for Illinoisans who are seeking information about volunteer agencies, trainings, nonprofit resources and national service programs including AmeriCorps. The website includes a user-friendly volunteer matching portal that acts as a central hub for volunteer opportunities from 17 different state and/or national volunteer opportunity databases.
For more information on AmeriCorps or Serve Illinois, visit the website at www.serve.illinois.gov or call 800-592-9896.