ServeNext.org Blog

Experience of a ServeNext Organizer

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on January 2, 2011

ServeNext.org is now accepting applications for our 2011 Field Program. To give potential applicants a first hand perspective on what it’s like to be a ServeNext Organizer, I’ve asked Monie Hayes to share her experience.  Below are her responses to our interview.

I applied to be a ServeNext Organizer because I have some experience with this type of work (mostly as a volunteer during Iowa caucus seasons) and find it interesting and rewarding. I had just left an overly demanding and insufficiently satisfying professional position out of state for one that is the inverse, so I had the time and a desire to reconnect with my community and nearby communities here in southeast Iowa. Plus, and fundamentally, I believe in the importance of giving of one’s time and talents to one’s community and in the power of coming to understand one’s neighbors through such work. We all have a story to share.

The training retreat in Washington D.C. provided me an opportunity to learn about the ServeNext history and mission and to begin building a community with my fellow organizers. It was good to discuss our shared values and individual experiences. After I returned home to carry out SN initiatives, I appreciated having spent time with Jerry and Zach and the other organizers. It made communicating with them and coordinating our work across geographic distance more comfortable. It was an intense weekend!

The first thing I did was contact people who might join my Leadership Council and sit down with them to hear about their commitment to service and their ideas for building a network and planning a launch
event.

I was surprised at how little time I had to coordinate the launch event and how well it went nevertheless! I was affirmed by the people who responded to my introduction of ServeNext with a sense of possibility and positive curiosity and disappointed by the reaction of others who wanted to know what we would do, materially, before we had done it.

Building a local ServeNext Network is an ongoing process, lots of fun, and in my experience, sporadic in terms of how many people join every week. I am just now getting to a point where the network can grow organically through members’ outreach to others.

Engaging members of Congress is a recursive process. Don’t be afraid to call back, and to do so again if need be. Cultivate relationships with staff members. Getting network members to contact our decision-makers electronically has been easier than engaging members of Congress in that it is a more streamlined or linear process.

Overall, I have learned that many of my neighbors and friends are engaging in exciting and worthwhile community service projects. They love their home and their neighbors, and they value voluntarism. And I have just scratched the surface of the donation of time and talent that goes on in southeast Iowa. ServeNext is an organization founded on solid principles and with tremendous possibility for growth and
support to lend to service.


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