October 21st 2015 BOSTON – State Representative David Muradian (R-Grafton) testified yesterday before the Joint Committee on Public Service regarding a piece of legislation that he filed earlier this year. The bill, H.2376, An Act Relative to Creditable Service for VISTA Volunteers, proposes changes to the Massachusetts General Laws in order to allow teachers who have served as AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers, to count their service in the program as creditable service for the purposes of retirement.
During his testimony, Rep. Muradian was joined by John McKeon, a Grafton resident and teacher at Grafton High School. Mr. McKeon, a past AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer himself, served from 1980-1981 in Indianapolis following his graduation from college. He worked with inner city youth to help them recognize and actively seek programs and assistance that would help lift them out of poverty and move on to college.
“The Federal Government set up VISTA as part of the AmeriCorps program, to help make sure that the underprivileged inside of our own borders knew what was available to them,” stated Mr. McKeon. “It is a wonderful program that empowers people to seek out services and opportunities that they might not have known about if it were not for the assistance of these volunteers.”
The current law only allows for teachers who have volunteered their service to the Peace Corps to submit that service to be counted as a contribution into the annuity savings fund of their retirement system. This bill would expand the list of volunteer organizations so that VISTA volunteer service is counted the same way.
“I felt very privileged to file this bill and to stand with Mr. McKeon to testify on its behalf,” Rep. Muradian stated. “The selflessness these volunteers show in their willingness to uproot their lives and enter some of the poorest neighborhoods in our country and help those among us who need it is awe inspiring. Passage of this bill is the least we can do for the volunteers who move on to teach in our schools-I can’t think of a better example for our children.”
Americorps VISTA volunteers are a group of skilled individuals who live and serve in some of the Nation’s poorest urban and rural areas to expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. A year-long commitment, volunteers serve in non-profit or public agencies to build organizational, administrative, and financial frameworks. The goals of these organizations can be to fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, or otherwise assist low-income communities in the United States.
Following yesterday’s testimony by Rep. Muradian and Mr. McKeon, the bill will be reported out of the Committee with either a “favorable, ought to pass” recommendation or an “unfavorable, ought not to pass” recommendation. The Representative is hopeful for a “favorable, ought to pass” recommendation.