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Schwarzenegger Announces First-in-the-Nation Cabinet Position for Service and Volunteering

Friday, February 29, 2008  
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On February 26, Governor Schwarzenegger took first-in-the-nation action to encourage volunteerism in California and to improve coordination of volunteer efforts between the state's departments and agencies. The Governor signed an executive order to establish the new position of secretary of service and volunteering. The secretary will be a member of the Governor's Cabinet.

“Government can give direction, it can provide an impetus, but real change has to come from each and every one of us. I want to move civic engagement to the highest levels of state government, which is where it belongs,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Californians' desire and will to serve are there in abundance. We must do everything we can to harness this incredible resource.”

The executive order, signed today by the Governor, will raise the profile of service in the Golden State to a national level; improve coordination of vital volunteer activities statewide and support local service efforts; encourage more Californians to become involved with service and volunteerism; help California respond to natural disasters and emergencies; and give California's volunteers a voice at the highest levels of state government. This is all without adding any new net costs to the state budget.

“I'm a big believer in uniting people to create change and achieve a positive legacy in their own lives, in their communities, in their state and beyond and it is through the act of service that this goal can be attained. Today as we elevate service, we elevate our fellow Californians to be 38 million strong,” said First Lady Maria Shriver.

California's volunteers have a positive multi-billion dollar impact on the state's economy every year. In 2006, volunteers contributed approximately 858 million hours of service to the California economy—a value of more than $17.4 billion. A one percent increase in the number of Californians who volunteer would equal approximately 365,000 new volunteers contributing 48 million hours—equal to nearly $1 billion in service to the state.

The Governor's action gives volunteerism a stronger voice and greater visibility and will encourage millions of Californians to make their valuable skills available. As demonstrated by the thousands of concerned Californians who stepped forward to volunteer during last year's wildfires and the San Francisco Bay oil spill, a stronger, more coordinated volunteer force will make California even better equipped to respond to resident's everyday needs, as well as wildfires, floods, heat waves, winter freezes, mudslides, earthquakes, disasters and emergencies.

Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver are committed to strengthening California's volunteer force. Under their leadership, CaliforniaVolunteers launched, which features the largest and most sophisticated statewide online volunteer matching system in the nation. Since the launch, the number of monthly web-based referrals of volunteers from CaliforniaVolunteers' local partners to non-profits has increased by nearly 500 percent. Maria Shriver serves as the honorary chair of CaliforniaVolunteers.

“I commend California for taking civic engagement and volunteerism to a new level by announcing a cabinet level secretary of service and volunteerism. AmeriCorps and other service programs provide a wonderful avenue for strengthening our communities while addressing our pressing needs in education, environmental protection, public health, and the environment. This new position will help to ensure that California's volunteers are fully integrated at the highest levels into the state's efforts to build a better California,” said Senator Hillary Clinton.

“Service to one's country and community is the most noble of things an American can give. For a state the size and influence of California to elevate service and volunteering to such a prominent position in government says a lot about the state's people and about the priorities of Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver. I'm impressed and applaud California for working to harness and spotlight the selfless time and energy given by its volunteers,” said Senator John McCain.

“America is a great nation precisely because Americans have been willing to stand up when it was hard, to serve on stages both great and small, and to rise above moments of great challenge and terrible trial. At this defining moment in our history, the Governor's decision to elevate civic engagement to such an important level reminds us that the call to serve is one that transcends partisanship and has the power to unite this generation around a common purpose,” said Senator Barack Obama.

The Governor also today announced the appointment of CaliforniaVolunteers Executive Director Karen Baker as the secretary of service and volunteering.

“Karen Baker does a fantastic job managing CaliforniaVolunteers,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “By elevating the state's volunteer profile we will make it easier for people to figure out where to go and what to do when they want to give their time or their resources.”

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