When the national service program AmeriCorps was established in 1993, it had its share of harsh critics.
There were those who felt it was simply a feel-good move by the Clinton administration.
Many complained that it was not true volunteerism because participants were offered stipends and, after they completed their assignments, they received money toward college tuition.
Sixteen years later, AmeriCorps is regarded as a huge success and is heralded by many nonprofit, city and state agencies as a crucial supplement to their usually underfunded and understaffed programs.
Since the establishment of AmeriCorps, more than a half-million people — many between ages 18 and 24, as well as a growing number of senior citizens — have volunteered to serve their country in a range of efforts.
Among other things, they’re helping children and youths achieve educational success; assisting in area healthcare initiatives; working to clean up the environment; aiding veterans, active-duty members of the armed forces and their families; and building housing.
And there is a huge multiplying effect with all of this volunteer effort.
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