AmeriCorps VISTA Beckley Office Hangs in the Balance of Presidential Budget

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President Donald Trump cites military spending as a main priority for his first budget outline. 

Because of that, popular domestic programs like AmeriCorps could be left out. Putting it on the chopping block would cause poverty assistance agencies like the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, in Beckley to lose its funding.  

“For one, you’re losing, you know, what’s already been developed,” Dawn Ippolito, AmeriCorps VISTA leader, said. “Then you have to start over with programs that may not be as effective. And for two, we’re trying to pay attention to areas that other programs haven’t.”

April Elkins, director of VISTA, said cutting AmeriCorps would impact 600 service members of the organization around the country who are managed from the Beckley office. 

“I would imagine our program would cycle itself out within a year,” Elkins said. “I mean that’s the reality. And in my office there are six staff, so we would probably have to start moving them around, finding different opportunities for them.”

Elkins said VISTA could potentially be saved if state senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito recommend the president to keep AmeriCorps on the budget. 

Sen. Manchin’s office issued 59News this statement:

“While he firmly believes that the national debt is one of the greatest threats facing this nation, Senator Manchin also believes that we must continue to invest in the values and principles that make this nation the greatest country on Earth such as service programs like AmeriCorps. Once the budget is released, Senator Manchin will carefully review how any proposed changes would impact West Virginia.”

“There’s a lot riding on the senators’ decisions as to whether or not this will get funded,” Elkins said. “And so we hope that those who can hear me will call Sen. Manchin and Capito’s office and ask to continue supporting AmeriCorps programming.”

President Trump could make his decision on this matter as soon as Wed. March 1, 2017. 

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