Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday signed an Executive Order changing the name of the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to Serve Alabama: The Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service, to better reflect the agency's role and to clearly state its mission. The Governor was joined by Serve Alabama's director, staff, commissioners and program partners as he signed Executive Order 30.
As Serve Alabama, the agency better reflects the role as the state's partner with non-government volunteer and non-profit groups serving in Alabama communities.
"Serve Alabama is a term that really reflects the actions of our fellow Alabamians," said Jon Mason, Director of Serve Alabama. "We serve each other in so many ways. This was very evident in the wake of last year's storms. Serve Alabama is here to be a state partner to the many groups that serve Alabamians every day. We also hope the name will encourage others to considering serving their community or neighbors in a new way."
Serve Alabama's duties include targeted work with faith-based organizations to ensure a level playing field for government funding; management of state Citizen Corps and Ready Alabama, community-based disaster preparedness programs; state level coordination of volunteers and donations during disasters; and continued oversight of the AmeriCorps State national service program.
Serve Alabama manages ten state AmeriCorps programs bringing in nearly $4,000,000 in federal funds to the local programs. These AmeriCorps programs are implemented by local/statewide non-profit organizations through grants.
Serve Alabama also continues to work on long term recovery from the April 2011 tornadoes. The agency manages a $12.9 million dollar FEMA disaster case management grant, benefitting storm survivors. Serve Alabama is the lead agency for the state in Volunteer and Donations management during disaster response and recovery. The agency worked with faith-based and community-based groups to coordinate volunteer response and state donations after the April 2011 tornadoes. In the past, Serve Alabama worked in the same role for Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon spill.
"Serve Alabama plays such a vital role for our state and our citizens," said Governor Bentley. "Much of the work they do is behind the scenes, and often goes unnoticed. I commend Serve Alabama for what they do in managing the volunteer services offered to our state and for the work they continue to do in the long term recovery of storm survivors."
Beginning with the passage of the National and Community Service Act of 1993, which established governor appointed State Service Commissions in every state, through the reauthorization of the Serve America Act in 2009, Serve Alabama, has fostered the expansion of community-based volunteerism and national service programs throughout the State of Alabama for nearly twenty years.
The name change is also a recommendation from the Tornado Recovery Action Council (TRAC). Serve Alabama will continue to include the use of faith-based and volunteer terms as an official part of the agency name, recognizing the groups the agency serves.
Serve Alabama also serves as the administrative agency for the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund, a disaster recovery fund of "last resort" for survivors of the April 2011 Alabama tornadoes.