Lawmakers fail to fund volunteer program | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers fail to fund volunteer program

BRENDAN RILEY
Associated Press Writer
Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons speaks during a press conference at the Capitol concerning the 2009 Nevada Legislative session on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Brad Horn)**ONLINE OK**
AP | Nevada Appeal

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Nevada’s AmeriCorps volunteer program is threatened because Gov. Jim Gibbons and lawmakers didn’t approve $365,000 in state funds to qualify for $7.5 million in federal money.

The governor didn’t include the state funding in the bare-bones spending plan he submitted to the 2009 Legislature. An Assembly bill to provide some of the state money died in the Senate amid confusion during the last night of the 2009 session.

Now, Shawn Lecker-Pomaville, chief executive officer of Nevada Volunteers, which oversees Nevada’s AmeriCorps program, says $32,000 is needed by early October just to keep the federal dollars coming in while efforts continue to find the full $365,000 in state or private funds.

“At this point, we’re not sure what went wrong,” Lecker-Pomaville said Monday, adding that without the matching dollars “we would be the first state in the country to lose our federal funding for AmeriCorps.”

“I have to think that if people realize what is at stake here we will raise that $32,000 rather quickly,” she said. The program provides thousands of hours of volunteer service every year.

“But it’s not a done deal,” Lecker-Pomaville said, adding that both lawmakers and the Gibbons administration are being asked again to help, and a private source of funding also being sought.

“If we lose AmeriCorps, we really lose a major cog in the community and volunteering service sector of Nevada,” she said.

The state money is needed to ensure the program gets $7.5 million in other funding for the next two fiscal years, starting on Wednesday and running through mid-2011. The other funding is a mix of dollars from federal, private and other non-state sources.

AmeriCorps members provide services such as tutoring and mentoring, help to the homeless, assistance in coping with fire hazards and flooding problems, distributing food and clothing and other services throughout Nevada.

In 2008, 139 AmeriCorps members, mostly college-age Nevadans who were paid minimum-wage salaries, worked in various education, human service, environment and public safety areas and also recruited more than 4,000 volunteers who donated their time.

Even with the efforts of Nevada Volunteers, an 11-year-old nonprofit organization, and other service group programs, Nevada ranks last among all states in such services. The state’s volunteerism rate is just under 18 percent of all citizens.

The No. 1 state is Utah, with a rate of about 44 percent. The national average is about 26 percent.

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On the Internet: http://nevadavolunteers.org/