The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 31, 2012

Mike Pound: Politicians united on value of AmeriCorps

By Mike Pound

JOPLIN, Mo. — I don’t always agree with politicians.

It’s nothing personal. In fact, I’ve liked most of the politicians I have met. Even though I tend to have a bit of fun at the expense of many of our elected folks, the fact is, most of them are decent people who are in politics for the right reason.

Now before you think I’m going overboard here, you should note that I said “most of them.”

I think being a politician today is pretty tough. I mean, talk about a “you’re-not-going-to-please-everybody” deal. In most cases, politicians learn to live with the fact that at least 40 percent of the people are going to dislike them.

On Tuesday, the Missouri House of Representatives did something that I’m pretty sure most folks liked.

I know I liked what the House members did.

They passed a resolution honoring the hundreds of AmeriCorps volunteers from all across the nation who have helped fuel Joplin’s recovery from the May 22 tornado.

The resolution was the brainchild of state Reps. Bill White, who represents much of Joplin, and Charlie Davis, who represents Duquesne. For the record, both men are Republicans, but I don’t think most folks in Jefferson City were thinking about that on Tuesday. I’m pretty sure most folks in Jefferson City were thinking, “When Joplin needed help, AmeriCorps was there”.

It’s hard to overstate what a great program AmeriCorps has turned out to be. Sure, in 1993, when President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, not everyone thought it was such a good idea.

That’s fair. I mean, politicians can disagree. But even some of the early critics such as Missouri’s own Kit Bond grew to admire the program. Bond, by the way, is one of those good and decent people who got into politics for the right reason that I was talking about earlier.

By now we’ve all heard the numbers. Since the storm, AmeriCorps has sent more than 200 workers to Joplin, and those young people have given more than 49,000 hours of service. Those volunteers have helped raise houses, salvage belongings and remove debris. They have helped deal with missing-person questions, offered legal services, and manned donation sites and distribution warehouses. And perhaps most importantly, they have helped organize the more than 60,000 volunteers who have flocked and continue to flock to Joplin. Most people with tell you that those AmeriCorps folks managed to do their work with compassion, good humor and determination.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. AmeriCorps workers will tell you that they signed up for the program because they wanted to make a difference, because they wanted to give back to their country.

So, thanks Bill and Charlie for helping to recognize AmeriCorps on behalf of Joplin. And thank you to anyone associated with AmeriCorps.

You make a difference. Every day.