DearColleague.us

Letter

 

From: The Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Sent By:
rina.wulfing@mail.house.gov

Date: 3/23/2017

Save Taxpayer Money: Support Senior Corps Volunteers

FY17 cosigners: Boyle, Brown, Bustos, Carson, Cartwright, Cicilline, Clark, Clarke, Conyers, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Dingell, Engel, Green, Grijalva, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Kind, Larson, Moore, Moulton, Nadler, Norton,
Pingree, Plaskett, Pocan, Ruiz, Schakowsky, Speier, Veasey, Welch, Wilson, Yarmuth

*this is a programmatic request*

Deadline: Thursday, March 30 2017

Dear Colleague,

Please join me in supporting Senior Corps volunteers in your district. Senior Corps currently includes three volunteer programs for older Americans: the Senior Companion Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and RSVP. These programs enable senior
volunteers to provide 96 million hours of essential services to their neighbors at a lower cost than any other option. 
Because of Senior Corps volunteers:

  • Almost 800,000 frail and disabled Americans receive independent living services, saving the federal government millions of dollars.
  • More than 232,000 at-risk and special needs kids are mentored at schools and correctional facilities that otherwise could not afford such services.
  • 65,000 local organizations meet community needs with the help of senior volunteers.

Senior Corps and its associated programs have always received strong bipartisan support because they are a cost effective way to meet local community needs and support the health of American seniors. President Nixon signed the Senior Companion Program into
law. President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan were consistent champions of the Foster Grandparents Program. President Clinton logically organized Senior Companion, Foster Grandparent, and RSVP under Senior Corps. Presidents Bush and Obama continued support
of all three programs.

Alarmingly, the Trump Administration has targeted these programs for elimination. It is more important than ever to protect the Senior Corps programs from extinction.  Join me in supporting funding for Senior Corps in the FY 2018 LHHS Appropriations
bill. To sign on, please contact Rina Wulfing at rina.wulfing@mail.house.gov or 5-0541 in Congressman DeFazio’s office.

Sincerely,

Peter DeFazio

Member of Congress

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Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen and Chairman Cole and Ranking Member Lowey and Ranking Member DeLauro:

As you review every line of the budget for potential savings, it is more important than ever that we find the most cost-effective way to meet the needs of American communities.  Senior Corps is one of those cost-effective solutions.  While we know that this
is a challenging budgetary environment, we nevertheless ask that you maintain funding for these programs in FY 2018. We also ask that you maintain the current structure of these important programs and leave any non-funding decisions to the authorizing committees.

Senior Corps currently supports three volunteer programs for older Americans: the Senior Companion Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Alarmingly, the Trump Administration has targeted the Senior
Corps programs for elimination.
 With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day for the next 20 years, we need to engage more, not fewer, older adult volunteers. These volunteers address the health, welfare, education, and other needs that confront communities
across the nation, especially those of frail elders and at-risk children.

We urge you to restore Senior Corps funding to the levels that were in place prior to sequester cuts and the 20 percent cut to RSVP.  This recommendation will set total Senior Corps spending for FY 2018 at $216.214 million: $107.702 million for Foster
Grandparents, $45.512 million for Senior Companions and $63 million for RSVP.

The Senior Companion Program pairs senior volunteers with frail or disabled elderly individuals who are homebound.  By taking care of routine chores and providing transportation to medical appointments or the grocery store, Senior Companions are often the
only reason that frail or disabled senior citizens are able to remain in their homes and avoid living in a costly long-term care facility.  Over 60,000 frail and disabled Americans are able to continue living on their own because of Senior Companion
volunteers, saving the federal government millions of dollars.

The Foster Grandparent Program pairs senior volunteers with at-risk and special needs children in schools, youth shelters, and correctional facilities.  The presence of a Foster Grandparent has a marked improvement in the reading skills, school attendance,
and behavior of the over 232,000 children that they mentor. Without Foster Grandparents, local schools and facilities would not be able to afford to pay for the individual attention that these children need in order to keep up with their peers.

Through RSVP, about 250,000 seniors across the country are connected to volunteer opportunities with roughly 65,000 local organizations. Not only does RSVP ensure that senior volunteers’ skills are best matched to a local organization, it also guarantees
that volunteers’ time is put to use satisfying whatever unique needs their communities may have.  Additionally, senior volunteers reap the mental and physical benefits of remaining active. It’s estimated that in FY 2018 RSVP volunteers will serve over
320,000 veterans in activities such as transportation and employment service referrals; mentor more than 80,000 children; provide independent living services to nearly 800,000 adults, primarily frail seniors; provide respite services to more than 20,000 family
or informal caregivers; and leverage an additional 18,500 volunteers to support RSVP activities, such as delivering meals to those in need and tutoring at-risk children.

By mobilizing seniors to volunteer their skills and experience through Senior Corps, vital community needs are met at a lower cost than other options.  These programs enable senior volunteers to provide nearly 96 million hours of essential services
to their neighbors, which translates into more than $2 billion worth of service to the nation. This is an immense return on investment of roughly $10 for every dollar invested. 
Federal efforts to boost volunteerism have consistently attracted bipartisan
support and Senior Corps should be no different.

We take seriously the unsustainable federal deficit; however all three Senior Corps programs ensure that American volunteers meet local needs at less cost to the taxpayer. We think it makes fiscal sense to support a funding level of $216.214 million in the
FY 2018 Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Sincerely,