Congresswomen Buerkle asked about National Service at Town Hall

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on June 16, 2011

Post by Stephanie Sacco, ServeNext Rochester:

Wednesday, June 8th, ServeNext Rochester, a team of service advocates from Rochester, NY attended the town hall of Ann Marie Buerkle (R) of the 25th Congressional District. The town hall event attracted a very diverse crowd and questions were placed in a box and picked out at random to be answered.  Every question evoked positive and negative reactions from the crowd–towards each other as well as towards Ms. Buerkle.  Luckily for us, our question about national service was picked and it was seemly that it was the only topic that seemed to be supported by everyone in the room.

The questioned asked Congresswomen Buerkle if she would support the federal investment in national service or support it’s elimination.  At first she seemed to go off topic by talking about food programs but at the heart of her response was concern about funding organizations that are ineffective.  She did say that she believes that programs like Habitat for Humanity are effective although I am not sure she completely understands the connection between “effective” organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and Teach for America, and the support these organizations count on from the federal investment in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

At the end of the town hall, the ServeNext team got to talk briefly with Deb Essley, one of Ms. Buerkle’s staff members from her local office. Ms. Essley is a very approachable and considerate woman whom ServeNext Rochester members got to meet with during Feb. 25th District Day.  Ms. Essley’s two daughters did AmeriCorps and she is a big supporter of the program.  It was great to run into her again, and the team will be following up with Ms. Essley to try to schedule a meeting with Ms. Buerkle to further discuss how national service programs are addressing challenges all across her district.


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