- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

The District government committed itself yesterday to creating a volunteer network to foster emergency preparedness, in accordance to President Bush's call to national service.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams traveled with Mr. Bush yesterday to Knoxville, Tenn., for a speech during which the president touted the Citizen Corps, his post-September 11 volunteerism project which will oversee the District program.
Besides Mr. Williams, the president was accompanied on Air Force One by the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, James K. Hahn.
The president announced that he was asking Congress for $50 million in funding for the program, in addition to the $230 million he had already requested for next year.
"It makes sense to come to the Volunteer State to talk about the need for our citizens to help each other," Mr. Bush said.
The president took a tour of Knoxville's Citizens Police Academy, a training center for volunteers, calling it a model for what he is trying to create throughout the nation.
"I'm here to explain to the nation the importance of citizens becoming involved with preparedness in their communities," Mr. Bush said. "I want other people to see what is possible."
In the District, the D.C. Citizens Corps Council will be coordinated through the D.C. Commission on National and Community Service, which will set up a framework for delivering volunteer services and meeting with local groups and volunteers.
"We are very supportive of this initiative," said Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mr. Williams. "We will be developing a domestic Peace Corps in a post-September 11 framework. It's smart, and it's a chance to give back the way our grandparents did during World War II."
The plan is intended to create a medical reserve force and shore up volunteer aid for law enforcement, such as the neighborhood-watch program.
"We are very excited that Washington, D.C., has stepped up and committed to creating a council that will help make preparing the city for an emergency a priority," said Lindsey Cozberg, spokeswoman for the White House office of USA Freedom Corps, the umbrella group for the president's initiative. "The success of the program will depend on local activities."
In January, Mr. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps to allow citizens to engage in meaningful work that contributes to civil welfare, and to nurture a "new culture of responsibility."
The $560 million initiative creates a program called Citizens Corps, which allows volunteers with various skills to contribute to domestic security through a variety of local initiatives. It doubles the membership of the Peace Corps and expands the nine-year-old Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn & Serve America programs.
The intention is to bring 125,000 volunteers into the programs, and it's hoped the newcomers will enlist 75,000 volunteers.
In the District, more than 22,000 people volunteer through 74 national-service projects affiliated with local nonprofit groups, schools, religious organizations and other groups. This year, the Corporation for National and Community Service will provide more than $10.7 million to support the city through three national-service initiatives: AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve America and Senior Corps.
AmeriCorps will enlist 1,000 persons. Learn and Serve America funding will allow 20,000 D.C. students from kindergarten through college to volunteer. National Senior Service Corps will host 800 city seniors as volunteers in Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
The Citizen Corps will be coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In his Knoxville speech, Mr. Bush was interrupted three times by hecklers who were ushered from the room, detained by Knoxville police and released.
One man shouted, "We won't fight your racist war," while a man and woman yelled, "Bush and Enron go hand in hand."

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