A ceremony at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock on Friday marked the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps. Former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, a native Arkansan, and Governor Mike Beebe attended the commemoration and swearing-in ceremony for new AmeriCorps members.
The civil service program authorized by President Bill Clinton in 1994 is staffed by volunteers who receive some forms of compensation. AmeriCorps member Rae-Marie Busby works with children at Baseline Elementary School in Little Rock. She said the organization’s work benefits both those being helped and the volunteers.
“It’s had a positive impact on those that we’ve served and it’s had a positive impact on myself. It’s fundamentally changed my goals and outlook on life. I think that’s what AmeriCorps does. It impacts yourself and the community and creates a positive cycle,” said Busby.
She said the program primarily helps underserved communities and institutions and programs in need of assistance. Busby said the program’s reach has grown over the last two decades.
“It started off a little smaller. Now it has expanded to cover every aspect of service whether it’s education, disaster relief, medical care, legal aid, it covers a wide spectrum of service jobs. I think it’ll keep expanding and growing,” said Busby.
President Barack Obama and former President Clinton offered remarks through a live video stream from the White House. The ceremony was held in conjunction with others across the nation.
AmeriCorps is modeled in some ways on the Peace Corps. President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps through an executive order in 1961.