Government shutdown hurts AmeriCorps volunteers in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Government shutdown hurts AmeriCorps volunteers in Iowa

Posted: Updated:
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Volunteerism in the U.S. is taking a hit, thanks to the ongoing federal government shutdown.

Monday marks nearly a week since Washington came to a grinding halt, after lawmakers failed to pass a budget by Oct. 1.

Now, thousands of volunteers across the nation will not receive their living stipend this week, if the government remains closed for business.

AmeriCorps is a federal program, where adults volunteer to better communities nationwide, often just for a stipend that covers only basic living expenses. This week, many of them won't even get that.

Malia Dunn is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with an organization called Iowa Campus Compact. Through that, she's working for Project Concern in Dubuque, which helps people in need in the tri-state area.

"This is Malia. I work with Project Concern, and I'm returning your call in regards to needing rental assistance," Dunn said to a man on the phone while sitting at her desk Monday afternoon. "How can I help you?"

Dunn normally receives a stipend of just $365 every two weeks, but this Friday, she won't even get that, if the government remains closed. A federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service, funds her position.

"I look at what some of our clients are going through, and what I'm going through can't even compare," Dunn said. "I mean, I may be living off of a small subsidy, but they don't have any money but they're able to meet their needs."

Eric Dregne is vice president of strategic initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, which hosts three AmeriCorps volunteers. Beyond that, however, the foundation works with many other entities throughout the greater Dubuque area that also employ the aid of AmeriCorps volunteers.

"They get a living stipend to help them with the basics of food and shelter, but that's about it," Dregne said, "so when they don't get that check, it's going to be a big deal."

He said the community has hundreds of AmeriCorps volunteers, between non-profit organizations, schools, government bodies and more.

"They expand our capacity, so we're able to do more than we'd ever be able to do without them," Dregne said.

Not all the volunteers, however, are affected by the government shutdown.

Many of the AmeriCorps positions throughout the US are funded through a grant or through a cost-sharing program between the federal government and, for example, a state or local organization.

For volunteers like Dunn, however, the shutdown is still a matter of uncertainty, concerning their living stipend.

"We'll get through this, just like anything else," Dunn said, adding some of the other VISTA volunteers she knows are in a situation worse than hers.

"I'm married, so my husband and I made some accommodations," Dunn said, "but he knows how passionate I am about what I do. I told them at the interview, I would've done this for free and essentially am doing it for free, but I'm glad to be at work every day, and just helping one client changes our community."

A memo called "Funding Lapse" on the Corporation for National and Community Service's website addresses the current situation with the government shutdown. It says those AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers who won't get their stipend checks during the shutdown will get back-paid once the government opens back up and the funds return.

"This plan was formulated to address a short-term temporary lapse in funding (up to two weeks)," the memo said. "In the event of a long-term or permanent lapse of funding the plan will be re-evaluated."

"No matter what side of the argument you're on, closing down the government and, in this case, the negative impact on people who have made a commitment to volunteer to their community, can't be viewed as good," Dregne said.

In Waterloo, the government shutdown forced a group of eight AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) volunteers to cancel their scheduled two weeks' worth of construction work for Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity.

  • NEWSNEWSMore>>

  • Body found in Waterloo, police search for AJT Auto Repair owner

    Body found in Waterloo, police search for AJT Auto Repair owner

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:42 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:42:02 GMT
    Anthony Tronca, 43, of WaterlooAnthony Tronca, 43, of Waterloo
    Waterloo Police are searching for the owner of a local auto repair shop in connection with the disappearance of a Waterloo man and the discovery of a body near Highway 218.More >>
    Waterloo Police are searching for the owner of a local auto repair shop in connection with the disappearance of a Waterloo man and the discovery of a body near Highway 218.More >>
  • House GOP moves ahead on Syrian rebel training

    House GOP moves ahead on Syrian rebel training

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:31 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:31:32 GMT
    This week offers Congress its best chance to get answers about President Barack Obama's new Mideast counterterror strategy.More >>
    Lawmakers raced Monday to authorize an expanded mission to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels before heading back to the campaign trail, with House Republicans preparing legislation backing a central plank of President...More >>
  • Discipline vs. Child Abuse

    Discipline vs. Child Abuse

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:29:39 GMT
    It's the question that is being asked all across the country tonight - including right here in Iowa. When it comes to disciplining our children, how far is too far? It took a major NFL star to be indicted on child abuse charges to renew the conversation. The pictures tell the story - a four year old - beaten with a switch. Cuts and bruises to his back, buttocks, ankles, legs, scrotum - and defensive wounds to his hand. His father, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, admits he gave...More >>
    It's the question that is being asked all across the country tonight - including right here in Iowa. When it comes to disciplining our children, how far is too far? It took a major NFL star to be indicted on child abuse charges to renew the conversation. The pictures tell the story - a four year old - beaten with a switch. Cuts and bruises to his back, buttocks, ankles, legs, scrotum - and defensive wounds to his hand. His father, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, admits he gave...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KWWL. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.