Senators Call on President to Mobilize Civilian Service Corps in National Call to Service for Gulf Oil Spill Recovery

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Robert Casey (D-PA), wrote to President Obama today requesting that he fully utilize the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as part of a "National Call to Service," aimed at engaging volunteers to assist in recovery efforts of the Gulf Coast oil spill.

"The future of our nation depends on the drive, the talent, and the values of our young people, and tremendous good can come from giving them a mission in this time of turmoil when their country needs them," the Senators wrote. "By leading a nationwide, proactive mobilization of the resources of the CNCS, Americans across this country will be given the sense of mission they seek: to support the clean-up and revitalization of the Gulf Coast."

As the oil continues to flow in the gulf, thousands of college graduates are entering into one of the toughest job markets since the Great Depression. These young adults are among the most eager to volunteer and help with community development along the Gulf Coast. By increasing the visibility of the CNCS, individuals and businesses will have an avenue to volunteer their support and donate their resources to address this crisis.

The Corporation is the nation's largest grantmaker supporting service and volunteering. Through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, CNCS coordinates volunteers that support local community organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, United Way, and other state-based non profits. CNCS was established in 1993 and has been integral to response efforts following national crises including Hurricane Katrina.

Below is the full text of the letter:

                                                          June 29, 2010


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write you today to ask that you fully and actively engage the Corporation for National and Community Service, CNCS, to assist in the response to the Deepwater BP oil spill along the Gulf coastline.

A disaster of horrific proportions is unfolding on the Gulf Coast.  Recent estimates indicate an amount of oil equal to that of the Exxon Valdez disaster has been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 – 10 days.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, up to 20 national wildlife refuges are at risk from the oil leaking into the Gulf, threatening a variety of species including dolphins, oysters, and sea turtles.  As oil continues to erupt from the broken riser pipe and assault pristine national coastline, our constituents are seeking bold and assertive leadership. 

But it’s not just environmental reasons we are concerned.  This tragedy will have a long lasting economic impact on local fisherman, the livelihoods of middle class families who have small businesses along the coast, and the spirit of an already battered region. 

At the same time as the crisis unfolds on the Gulf Coast, another crisis has been unfolding in communities across our nation.  Due to the fallout from the economic slowdown, young people are being ushered into the worst employment market in nearly a century.  Their energies and efforts are waiting on the sidelines to do something great for their country.  Participating in the oil spill clean-up is an opportunity for these young people to engage in a meaningful enterprise, answer the call to service, and help mitigate the effects of this economic and environmental disaster.

We call on you today to fully utilize the CNCS as a part of our nation’s response in the Gulf.  The CNCS was an integral part of the Hurricane Katrina response and they can do the same for the Gulf region again.  While the Corps is already responding to the crisis, it is clear that they need a national recruitment effort that will give them the resources to respond.  We ask that you engage in this effort by encouraging Americans to join the corps, and to urge businesses to lend their support. 

An unprecedented catastrophe requires an unprecedented response.  A nationwide, proactive mobilization of the resources of the CNCS will give Americans across this country the sense of mission they seek: to support the clean-up and revitalization of the Gulf Coast.

Thank you for your continued leadership in addressing this crisis.

Sincerely,

                                                             ###

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