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The Time Has Come: Making Service History in South Dakota

by Debra Schiefelbein
Last week, when South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard designated the South Dakota Nonprofit Association as South Dakota’s State Commission for National and Community Service he made service history for South Dakota. With his signature to the executive order, South Dakota became the 50th state to name a service commission.

Governor Daugaard’s strong background in volunteerism and service – from childhood to adulthood – made this a natural fit for his vision of neighbor helping neighbor. Previously he served as the Executive Director of the Children’s Home Society, an organization that hosted both AmeriCorps VISTA and RSVP members.

Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick A. Corvington attended the signing alongside the North Dakota/South Dakota State Director, SDNA Board of Directors, and Executive Director John Grayson.

CEO Corvington applauded the Governor, “I commend Governor Daugaard for his bold leadership in designating a state service commission to channel the energy and talents of South Dakotans into making a difference in their communities. South Dakota has a strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, and this commission will strengthen the reach and impact of volunteers and nonprofits in addressing critical problems facing the state”.

Also in attendance were representatives from current South Dakota AmeriCorps programs Lutheran Social Services of South Daktoa, Teach for America, and St. Mary’s Foundation.

Following the signing, attendees visited with volunteers and students from a Reading Buddy Program – a partnership between an independent living facility, Parkwood, and a local school Pierre McKinley Elementary. This program has been in existence since 1998 and serves students in the 1st through 5th grade. The partnership celebrates diversity with many students of Native American heritage and a unique cast of RSVP volunteers – including a nun and a volunteer who communicates through a voice box and writing tablet.

South Dakota ranks third in the nation for senior volunteering with more than 37% of its adult population volunteering through a formal organization each year and it ranks sixth in the nation for its volunteer rate, according to the 2010 Volunteering in America report conducted by CNCS in conjunction with the U.S Census Bureau. On average, 227,000 South Dakotans volunteer more than 23 million hours each year, providing an economic value of more than $490 million in service to the state.

Deb Schiefelbein is a 37 year veteran of the Corporation for National & Community Service and previously worked at the ACTION Network.

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