District Day with the Offices of Sen. Tom Harkin and Sen. Chuck Grassley

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on August 11, 2011

Post by Jordan Jones, ServeNext Organizer for Des Moines:

ServeNext Des Moines had a great District Day, with high levels of participation, wonderful speakers and just a little bit of chaos. In the Federal Building in downtown Des Moines we met with Sen. Tom Harkin’s Health, Education, Workforce Outreach Liason, Laura Sands. Also in attendance was Aaron McKay, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Regional Director. Both were extraordinarily gracious to us and had an impressive knowledge of national service programs.

The chaos I mentioned happened early. In the week prior to District Day, I found that people were starting to come out of the woodwork and were more than willing to take action on this issue. This left us with a great problem: we had so many attendees that not everyone could fit into the conference room! Luckily, Harkin’s staff were very understanding and solved the problem by breaking our large group (numbering over twenty) into two smaller ones.

The first to go were representatives from the Des Moines Senior Companion program. Unsurprisingly, they were full of powerful stories about how service has changed their lives for the better. The Senior Companion program has helped them become more engaged in their community, given them a little financial boost (crucial for someone on a fixed income) and allowed them to serve those who need it the most. They underscored the ability of service to benefit both those who give and those who receive.

The second group was more diverse, consisting of former service members, Foster Grandparents, and representatives from RSVP, Senior Corps, the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and Iowa Campus Compact. We alternated between personal testimonials and policy-oriented discussion. Serendipitously, the Ames Tribune had run a story that day describing the excellent work RSVP did last year in responding to flooding in central Iowa. I pulled out the article during the meeting to help our RSVP representative make her point.

All in all, a good visit and a good day for the national service movement. I was thrilled by the level of enthusiasm and participation. Even Miley Cyrus got involved, tagging one of our participants on Facebook and voicing her support for national service. Looks like the service movement is even getting endorsements from pop stars now. Our hard work is paying off. Let’s keep it up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: