MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Just two days after President Bush called for more voluntarism by Americans, the Minnesota state office that helps train volunteers for community service opened for its last day Thursday.
The Minnesota Office of Citizenship and Volunteer Services became expendable after Gov. Jesse Ventura sought ways to erase a projected $1.95 billion state budget shortfall.
As part of the budget-trimming effort, the state also is considering killing the Minnesota Conservation Corps, a part of AmeriCorps, the national service program that Bush said in the State of the Union address Tuesday he wants to expand. The state now provides most of the money for the Conservation Corps.
"As an employee of the executive branch, I'm duty-bound to support the governor's program," said Larry Fonnest, director of the Conservation Corps, which is part of the Department of Natural Resources. But he added, "My passion is around national service, so on a private level it's very hard to see this happening."
Some of the interest in volunteering comes from people who lost jobs in the economic fallout from Sept. 11. The Office of Citizenship and Volunteer Services reported an increase of 15 to 20 percent in interest since then. Applications to the Peace Corps also soared after Sept. 11.
After Bush's address on Tuesday, the Volunteer Resource Center, a nonprofit Twin Cities volunteer coordinating agency, reported at least 30 percent more calls Wednesday than on an average day.
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