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PowerPlayer: Vin Marzullo

Monday, August 15, 2011


GoLocalProv’s latest PowerPlayer is a fixture in Rhode Island’s volunteer community. Vin Marzullo oversees the AmeriCorps VISTA program as the State Director of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which employs hundreds of residents at various sites throughout the Ocean State.

Mr. Marzullo was kind enough to tell us about the incredible work he does and fill us in what he believes are the state’s most pressing issues.

1) Federal funding is always a concern for programs like VISTA. Tell us about this year's fiscal problems compare with issues in the past.

This year was truly a unique and defining year for federal funding and the federal budget process. It took Congress more than 6 months to finalize a FY2011 federal budget – which resulted in a 6% overall reduction in national & community service programs at the Corporation for National & Community Service. This delayed budget adoption has never occurred in my 27 years of federal service and with the recent debt ceiling agreement we are likely to see further domestic spending reductions over the next few years. Fortunately, AmeriCorps*VISTA spending was not reduced this fiscal year and future spending will be determined after Labor Day/early fall.

2) AmeriCorps and VISTA members address several important issues in the state. What do you think is the most pressing issue Rhode Island faces?

Jobs and youth opportunities – Rhode Islanders are hurting and our high unemployment has resulted in significantly lower revenues for our state and local governments. We need to foster a better climate for business investment and job creation – as well as training and retraining programs that connect people to jobs. Also, too many youth are dropping out of school, are ill-equipped for the job market, lack community connectedness or lack guidance/assistance to access college or career education. Greater human investment is needed to compliment any economic development strategy – our responsibility must include opportunities for all socio-economic populations.

3) Take us through a day in your life.

As the RI Director for National & Community Service, I start my day by checking in with my Senior Volunteer programs and AmeriCorps*VISTA members for any pressing issue that may need immediate problem-solving. These volunteers are on the frontline of service and have a true pulse on the challenges and opportunities that can improve life in our community. I also make a point of communicating daily with my son, Michael, who is a Suffolk County (NY) Police Officer (and former AmeriCorps*VISTA member who served in the South Bronx) to make certain that he’s safe. My day typically ends in the early evening (around 7 or 8PM) – once I have had the opportunity to respond to all communications and inquiries from the public and our volunteers. My wife, Josie, and I will usually have a late dinner and then watch one of our favorite TV shows – which is usually recorded from a previous evening. Lately, I’ve been exchanging text messages with my daughter, Amanda, about her upcoming wedding arrangements for this January.

4) AmeriCorps should be considered an economic driver in this country. How can the Corporation do a better job messaging the import work AmeriCorps members are doing?

I would love to see a cable TV show that presents the many thousands of good deeds that “soldiers of service” are providing around the country. These inspiring, selfless acts of kindness have the potential to trigger many other individuals into service if we can visually demonstrate the power and influence of volunteers. This story needs to be told.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

My college rock & roll band, The Right Honourable Gentlemen, was the opening act for the British group, The Hollies, at a Providence College concert in 1968.

Quick Hitters 

Role Model: John H. Chafee
Favorite Restaurant: Friendship Cafe
Best Beach: Mackeral Cove, Jamestown
Best Book You've Read This Year: Gratitude by Wm. Buckley
Advice For The Next Vin Marzullo: Don’t follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

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