Working Together in Chicago to “Save Service in America”

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on February 25, 2011


Post by Patti Kurtz, ServeNext Chicago:

Over 50 constituents showed up in downtown Chicago this afternoon for the District Day initiative with Save Service in America to speak with Senator Mark Kirk. As we were assembling outside the building and reviewing the action plan for speaking to the Senator, we were approached by a few police officers asking who we were, what we were doing outside the building, and what our intent was in organizing a group of this size. To give some perspective on the situation, the four corners outside the building were filled with groups of protesters (not our group).

Once we explained our reason for assembling and letting them know that all we wanted to do was speak with the Senator about national service programs, the police officers agreed to help us out. While we were not able to bring up the full group, we were allowed to send 6 people into the Senator’s office to speak about our issue. First and foremost – a big thanks goes out to everyone who showed up today!! Without such a great turnout, we would not have had a chance at getting a meeting with someone in his office.

There were 6 representatives that met with the Senator’s Chief of Staff, Eric Elk, and shared stories of impact and service to help frame the case for national service programs.

The following organizations were represented by a great group of speakers:

Steve Sullivan, Executive Director, Public Allies
Caitlin Closser, ServeNext Organizer (AmeriCorps Alum)
Julie Kuhn, Manager and CHC Site Supervisor, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago
Michael Elliot, Development Manager, Jumpstart (AmeriCorps Alum)
Two additional AmeriCorps Alums, including Co-Chapter President of AmeriCorps Alums Chicago and ServeNext Organizer Patti Kurtz

All in all it was a fantastic meeting! We left behind a lot of critical information for Senator Mark Kirk, including all 91 pages of the signed Save AmeriCorps petition of 3,875 constituents in Illinois, the 1-page leave behinds that were filled out by all attendees, and other great materials. Our big “ask” was for the Senator to keep the Corporation for National Service a priority in the budget and not cut these great programs. We also requested to meet with him in person when his schedule allows and that we would do go above and beyond to help communicate the importance of national service programs, such as scheduling a site visit, putting together additional budgetary information, etc.

Thanks again to everyone who came out to make this meeting possible!! It’s inspiring to see so many people coming together for a great cause and to hear the impact national service programs have had on your lives and the lives of others. We are hopeful here in Chicago that what we’ve already been doing locally and continue to do, including today’s initiative, will create lasting change that will protect and expand the Corporation for National Service.


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