Hatch: Why the Serve America Act is Such a Good Bill

Special Guest Blog Posting for shAARPsession
By Senator Orrin Hatch
The Serve America Act is truly a bipartisan piece of legislation that enjoys widespread support. I would like to take a few minutes to tell you why it is such a good bill.
First, this bill is 100 percent voluntary. No one in our nation is compelled to give service, and this bill upholds that tradition. What the legislation will do is provide new and expanded opportunities for people who voluntarily decide to participate.
Moreover, given our current economic climate, there is no better time to make this investment in our nation’s future. For every dollar invested in national service, there is anywhere from $1.60 to $2.60 returned on that investment, whether it’s kids being tutored, vacant lots turned into playgrounds and parks, homes being built or aid in the form of disaster relief.
An important aspect of this legislation is its multiplying effect. If the measure of this legislation was solely to provide national service slots for 250,000 individuals, I don’t think we would have that much to be proud of. But these national service participants, who will receive what amounts to a below-poverty-level survival stipend to meet their basic needs, will leverage millions of traditional unpaid volunteers and hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment in the nonprofit sector to tackle some of our toughest challenges.
One of the things I’m most excited about with this bill is that it provides opportunities for people to serve throughout their live, whether they are young adults or senior citizens. The bill includes programs like the Encore Fellowship program that are specifically directed at our seniors and Baby Boomers. I think this bill will put the skills and experience of our older generations to good use and, at this difficult time, this is a resource we should be all be willing to tap.
Ultimately, the success of the programs shall not be measured by the number of people who participate, but by the work they accomplish.