President Obama made national service a theme of his campaign. And The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which he signed on Tuesday, expands current programs for Americans who wish to serve. These offer opportunities for people of all ages. One designed for 18 to 24-year-olds was inspired by a program created 75 years ago, during the Great Depression.
22-year-old Michelle Sandone is a number of the National Civilian Community Corps, "That I really want to do a year of service, and this thing is perfect because not only do they provide housing and meals and things like that, they also give you a small stipend and you get to travel around."
Today she is working with team members in a park in Baltimore, Maryland, and digging up unwanted plants. Next month Michelle and her teammates will probably be something entirely different. According to Janet Boyer, a community relations specialist with the NCCC."They could do everything from chinking a log cabin in West Virginia. We had a team do that for two years. They could be doing taxes in [the] inner city. They could be eradicating invasive species like this project here," NCCC volunteers alsotutor children, build homes with Habitat for Humanity, and provide disaster aid if necessary . Ever since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, all volunteers spend several weeks helping rebuild communities on the Gulf Coast.
Volunteers work in teams of 8 to 10. During their 10 months in the program, they spend most of the time with those people, and form tied bonds according to Katie Lamarca, a team leader who is doing her second tour with NCCC. "There is a lot of joking around and lots of just kind of exploring the different cities that you are, that you are in. Just really creating a relationship that people you are with and 24 hours a day, this kind of thing.
The National Civilian Community Corps which is in its 15th year was inspired by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was created in 1933 to provide work for young men when unemployment rates were 25 percent in the United States. Most of their work was done outside, planting trees, and most of the money they earned was sent directly to their families to support their parents and siblings.
Although the NCCC was not designed to provide financial support to families, the Edward M. Kennedy Committee Serve America Act will strengthen its focus on recruiting disadvantaged youth. NCCC official Janet Boyer says the current recession may be having an impact on enrollment.
"I think part of the reason we are seeing an increase in our number of applicants is because of that, especially the college graduates. There is a，but there is a focus among the young people now that, before they start their careers they want to give back a little bit. So that also plays a role in the increase of the application figures."
That's why Michelle Sandone applied, and also why Aaron Villere wanted to join the corps. "I was really planning on doing this my whole senior year [last year in college. I just wanted to get a year's service in before, you know, I do go to the actual workplace here. See me that what I can do, that came from, I get so a little more affluence, so it's just, it's a great exposure, experience, and they really stress building communities."
Aaron says although he has only been in the program for two and a half month, he is already thinking of signing up for another year. It's a common feeling. About 40% of NCCC graduates decide to return or volunteer with another program like the Peace Corps.
stipend：a periodic payment, esp. a scholarship or fellowship allowance granted to a student（薪金，定期生活津贴）
tutor：to act as a tutor to; teach or instruct, esp. privately（教导，辅导）