As the Bush administration continues to promote volunteer efforts in America, the President is marking the six-month anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps with a renewed call to service. A public service advertising campaign featuring several celebrities is conveying the message "Everyone can do something," and a revamped Web site (usafreedomcorps.gov) is making it easier for volunteers to do just that.
In his State of the Union address this past January, President Bush called on all Americans to "commit at least two years—4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime—to the service of your neighbors and your nation." The USA Freedom Corps was created to facilitate this call to service, giving Americans an outlet for volunteerism and instilling a culture of service into America's communities. As a coordinating council for several organizations, including the Peace Corps, Citizen Corps, AmeriCorps, and Senior Corps, the USA Freedom Corps has a mission to "strengthen our culture of service and help find opportunities for every American to start volunteering."
Numbers recently issued by the USA Freedom Corps indicate a renewed interest in volunteerism in America. On-line applications to AmeriCorps have increased 90 percent, and visits to the SeniorCorps Web site have jumped 57 percent. More than 66,000 potential volunteers have requested Peace Corps applications—a 40 percent increase—and more than 45,000 individuals have signed up on-line to participate in the Citizen Corps. VolunteerMatch, the on-line volunteer database located at www.volunteermatch.org, has experienced a marked upswing in activity this year. In the last quarter alone, matches between volunteers and organizations increased 72 percent compared to the same period in 2001.
According to the USA Freedom Corps, research shows that one of the primary reasons people give for not volunteering is that they simply don't know where to start. To meet this need, the organization has redesigned its Web site, usafreedomcorps.gov. Representing the entire USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network, the site offers prospective volunteers the opportunity to work with more than 50,000 organizations. The revamped site draws from both nonprofit and federal government volunteer databases, including America's Promise, GuideStar, the National Mentoring Partnership, Points of Light Foundation, SERVEnet, the United Way, VolunteerMatch, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Peace Corps, and Citizen Corps.
Nonprofits that wish to reach out to volunteers through the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network can do so by posting ads for volunteers on GuideStar. Organizations can also receive a free monthly newsletter from USA Freedom Corps.
Studies have indicated that volunteerism in our nation has been on the decline for the past three decades. Based on the numbers recently released, it seems safe to say that volunteerism in America is once again on the rise.
The preceding is a guest post by Patrick Ferraro, a freelance writer in Seoul, Korea, and a former editor of the Newsletter.