Local Impact Fuels District Day Success
Two weeks ago, while members of Congress were in their home districts for the Presidents’ Day Recess, hundreds of national service supporters reached out to representatives and senators in all 50 states to talk about the local impact of national service. This District Days mobilization wasn’t led by high paid lobbyists or Washington, DC insiders. It was made possible by a coalition of organizations and individuals in all 50 states who are passionate about the power of national service to address our nation’s most pressing challenges. And the power of that coalition is evident across the country.
In Massachusetts, staff from Jumpstart talked with Congressman Joe Kennedy’s (MA-04) staff about the difference Jumpstart and other AmeriCorps programs make in the lives of low-income youth by supporting critical early childhood education. Kennedy, the nephew of the late national service champion, Edward M. Kennedy, then took to the House floor to emphasize the importance of preserving national service.
In Ohio, Senator Rob Portman had recently visited national service sites but didn’t know the full extent that these local programs counted on national service members. After ServeOhio’s Executive Director and ServeNext Organizer, Nicole Schmidt, met with Portman’s District Director, Senator Portman was able to return to DC with a fuller picture of the impact national service has in his state.
In Iowa, Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) is a long-time national service supporter. He not only committed to make the case for investing in national service to his colleagues in Congress, he asked for input from national service allies about the impact of the budget sequester and how to manage upcoming federal budget fights.
In Washington State, national service allies from Solid Ground, Rebuilding Together, Catholic Community Services, and others met with Republican Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08) to share stories of the impact national service has on northwest Washington communities. Reichert, inspired by the impact of national service, concluded the meeting by pledging to join the National Service Caucus – a public statement of his priorities.
Kennedy, Portman, Loebsack, and Reichert represent just five conversations out of hundreds of engagements. District Days was powered by a national grassroots coalition of national service allies and organized by the Save Service in America Campaign, a joint effort of ServiceNation and Voices for National Service. In total, national service supporters in all 50 states hosted, emailed and tweeted, and visited the offices of 155 members of Congress. All with a single message: national service is a national priority.
National organizations – like City Year and AARP’s Experience Corps – as well those working on the local level – like Cleveland’s Literacy Cooperative and San Francisco’s Bay Area Community Resources– count on national service to make an impact on people’s lives. Only by continuing to combine our efforts will we demonstrate the full impact of our grassroots coalition and establish national service as an enduring national priority.