ServeNext.org Blog

2011 Field Program Training Retreat Recap

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on March 25, 2011

Post by Leila Pedersen:

On March 11th-13th ServeNext’s 2011 field Organizers convened in Washington, DC for a three-day intensive training retreat. They received in-depth information about grassroots advocacy, management and leadership, community organizing, marketing and communications, social media, strategic planning, and more.  As a ServeNext Intern, I was able to observe the training and get to know the people who have taken on our important work. By Sunday afternoon, I felt inspired, empowered, and more convinced than ever of our nation’s urgent need for national and community service.

For 2011, the field program has grown to include 15 dynamic organizers. We added six new locations, including Columbus, OH; Rochester, NY; New Hampshire; New Haven, CT; Salt Lake City, UT; and Montana. Starting early Friday morning, the diverse group of Organizers began to form a strong bond. Stephanie Sacco, a Youth Counselor from Rochester, immediately took on the role of spirit leader. And Justin Hudspeth, who works with the Utah Commission on Volunteers in Salt Lake City, emerged as a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge about the Corporation. Each Organizer brought a unique perspective, but the common thread stitching these individuals together is their unwavering passion and commitment to give all Americans willing and ready to serve their community the opportunity to do so.

Guest speakers Tom Sheridan and AnnMaura Connolly got the group excited for the work ahead by outlining their varying political strategies. Tom led an inspiring conversation that called for an aggressive approach to service advocacy. He emphasized the need to “spank and thank” members of Congress for their opposition or support of service.  A bit later, AnnMaura Connolly outlined a milder approach to advocacy aimed more at expressing how deeply the field appreciates the support of service champions in Congress.

Meetings on Capitol Hill gave the Organizers the unique opportunity to learn best practices and effective tactics for approaching and advocating to Congressional offices.  Members of a Congressional staff offered our Organizers first-hand advice on how to approach congressional offices, how to build relationships with congressional staff, and what types of information is helpful and a resourceful.  After having participated in an actual meeting with Congressional Staff in D.C., planning meetings back home in the district seemed manageable and exciting.

On Sunday afternoon our organizers finalized their local strategic plans and returned home with a plan of action to lead their communities in the fight to save service.   I feel lucky to have been a part of this group’s training and was truly inspired by their depth of knowledge and obvious passion for service. I have never encountered a group more motivated and dedicated to a single cause.

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One Response to “2011 Field Program Training Retreat Recap”

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