National Service Agency CEO Delivers Keynote at Catholic Charities Centennial Gathering

Sep 28, 2010

Corvington Praised Faith Service Leaders' Dedication to Alleviate Poverty and Heightened Commitment to Achieve Higher Results

Washington, DC – More than 44 million Americans are living in poverty today, the highest number in more than five decades. Patrick A. Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, highlighted ways that national and citizen service is working to reduce poverty rates in communities across the country at Catholic Charities' Centennial Conference today.

In his keynote address, Corvington lauded Catholic Charities' years of dedication and extraordinary leadership in the nation's fight against poverty. Corvington added that creating a permanent solution to poverty is one of the agency's highest priorities, and fundamental to that aim is engaging America's poor in identifying, defining and solving problems in communities.

Through its national service programs – AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, the Corporation provided more than $10 million to support Catholic Charities' projects in 17 states in 2009 and 2010. The agency has a long history of working with Catholic Charities and other community organizations to meet the needs of America's poor and vulnerable populations. Since 1964, more than 175,000 VISTA members have served on the frontlines of the fight against poverty, counseling the unemployed, providing job training, and helping to build the capacity of low-income individuals and communities to get out of poverty. Last year, VISTA members served in nearly 1,000 anti-poverty programs, raised over $183 million in support of local initiatives, and helped place more than 5,400 people in jobs through Recovery Act projects.

Excerpts of Corvington's speech are as follows.

“As service leaders, our job is to answer that calling in ways that do the most good – especially for those in greatest need. As the head of a government agency charged with targeting resources to meet these challenges, I can report to you that the magnitude of the problems we face is more than matched by the will of individuals, of communities, to meet them.

“What Katrina has taught us is that to be effective, we can't simply help our poorest neighbors, we have to engage the poor in identifying, defining and solving problems in communities. When we work together with our neighbors, we create just pathways that value human dignity, collaboration and shared responsibility.

“I believe that one of the most significant challenges we face as agents of social change, and as service leaders, is how we build communities from the inside out, while also ensuring that they have access to the best national resource like Catholic Charities. That is where success lies. We cannot change lives and change communities, but leave them out of the change process. So we need to do a better job of aligning our resources in communities, engaging stakeholders, and demonstrating the power of service, not only to uplift communities, but also to transform lives.

“One of the challenges that we have at the Corporation, which I think that you're taking head on, is how do we get stakeholders, community-based organizations, everyone engaged to shoot toward that same goal. I think the leadership at Catholic Charities and organizations represented in this room have done an extraordinary job of getting folks together to agree on solving this problem.

“In getting clear about our focus and results, and being relentless and putting a stake in the ground, only then will we succeed.

“So let me leave you with a question and challenge: How can we work more powerfully together to meet the challenges we all care about so deeply? … How can we put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first? … We need your ideas, we need your energy, your imagination and your passion – let that be the spirit that guides us as we continue our noble struggle against poverty. Thank you for your service.”

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