Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
AmeriCorps Fifth Anniversary
October 22, 1999
It’s great to be here. Welcome to all the current and past members of AmeriCorps USA, AmeriCorps VISTA, parents, friends, distinguished community leaders. Welcome, all! Many of you have traveled far and wide to get here today. Some of you traveled all of the way from Yakima or Trout Lake. And how many members here today moved to Washington State to serve in AmeriCorps or VISTA? On behalf of all Washingtonians, thank you for coming here to help make Washington State a better place to live, to work, and to raise a family.
AmeriCorps is five years old today. We have come so far since that day back in 1994 when Governor Mike Lowry stood in Volunteer Park and swore in Washington’s very first AmeriCorps volunteers. There were a couple hundred volunteers there that day. Well, look around you. There are more than a thousand volunteers in this ballpark today. There are more volunteers in this ballpark today then total volunteers in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska combined. And there are a thousand more Washington AmeriCorps volunteers who aren’t with us today. I’m proud that the state of Washington has one of the largest AmeriCorps contingents in the United Sates. I’m also proud that AmeriCorps is patterned after the Washington Service Corps which I helped to reshape in 1992 into a program of a two-year college scholarship in exchange for nine months of community service.
You are making a difference in Washington State! No community can better attest to the change brought by national service than Washington schools that have participated in our Washington Reading Corps program. Schools that were once hesitant about having volunteers in the classroom are now embracing the Reading Corps Programs in their schools. Last year more than 11,000 volunteers provided more than 22,000 struggling readers in our schools with one-on-one reading instruction. And reading scores in schools with Reading Corps programs went up almost twice as much as the reading scores in schools without Reading Corps programs. AmeriCorps members were critical in helping to recruit and coordinate community volunteers in addition to being tutors themselves.
Your presence and volunteerism confounds those who say that patriotism and love of country is a value not found in the current generation. You are placing community and public interest above self-interest. You are the embodiment of what native peoples who lived on this land many years ago envisioned for people living in their communities—stewardship and a concern for others. Truly, you are bringing about a new day for the state of Washington. You are perfect examples of what it takes to be a Washingtonian: a concern for others, a willingness to serve, and a passion to make a difference. Thank you.
It’s now my honor to introduce Harris Wofford, the Head of the Corporation for National Service. Harris has dedicated his life to teaching people the value of serving others. He helped launch the Peace Corps in 1961, and has been instrumental in every aspect of making service to others a priority in our nation. Without Harris, it’s likely there wouldn’t be a Corporation for National Service today, or at least not such a powerful one. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a rousing state of Washington welcome to Harris Wofford.