For Immediate Release - January 08, 2007

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES CREATION OF COMMONWEALTH CORPS

MEMBERS WILL ENGAGE IN SERVICE TO PROMOTE VOLUNTEERISM, REBUILD COMMUNITIES

Boston- Monday, January 8, 2007-Governor Deval Patrick today announced the creation of Commonwealth Corps, an organization dedicated to encouraging residents and improving communities across Massachusetts through community service and volunteerism. Enabling legislation will be filed shortly, and will build on the hard work that Senator Marc Pacheco and others have already done.

The Commonwealth Corps will include 250 individuals in its first year, with a goal of expanding to 1,000 members over the next five years. Members will dedicate at least one year of service to a nonprofit organization, civic initiative, or public entity, providing direct service to people or communities in need.

"Every single one of us has a stake in each others dreams and struggles, and in stronger communities. To that end, this administration will play a role in encouraging civic engagement," Governor Patrick said. "The mission of Commonwealth Corps is to draw together people of all ages and backgrounds to help meet human need and rebuild communities across Massachusetts. By mentoring, staffing after school programs or shelters, helping to clean up parks and neighborhoods, members can help transform communities and inspire others to take action to promote the common good."

The bill will also propose to create a pilot Commonwealth Student Corps, a program developed to expand opportunities for students interested in service learning opportunities. The program, as envisioned, will be administered initially by three public colleges or universities. Participating students will be connected with service opportunities that complement their respective area of study.

The Bill will also codify the Massachusetts Service Alliance into law. The Alliance will administer the Commonwealth Corps and establish guidelines to implement community service and volunteer opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.

Governor Patrick's plan includes expansion of the State Employee Responding as Volunteers (SERV) program to address additional community needs. Currently, state employees who have worked for three months are eligible to volunteer for one day of service per month as tutors. The program will be expanded to include volunteer opportunities in the environmental, health and public safety fields, among others.

"Service has the power to unite neighbors, strengthen communities, and instill in citizens a life-long ethic of civic participation. Throughout the state, volunteers work tirelessly to meet educational, environmental, public safety, and human service needs in the state," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). "But there is so much more that we could be doing. I commend the Governor for taking the initiative to strengthen citizen service throughout the Commonwealth."

The Corps will consist of members from diverse backgrounds who are 18 years or older, from high school-age students, to mid-career workers to retirees. Corps members will serve in a part-time or full-time capacity. The organization will be one of many ways Governor Patrick will encourage people to reinvest in their communities and civic lives.

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