District Day in Rochester, NY
Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on August 11, 2011
Post by Stephanie Sacco, ServeNext Organizer for Rochester:
In Rochester, NY, service advocates met with representative Sarah Clark and her staffer Mariana at Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office. We discussed our experiences with AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State/National. Danielle, ServeNext member, discussed the impact of her AmeriCorps work on young people. She observed youth becoming empowered to take action to be more healthy and aware. Danielle also discussed the impact of her AmeriCorps experience on her own career, as she gained the skills and experience necessary to then be hired into a full-time youth service position after finishing two years in AmeriCorps.
Sarah Clark, Ms. Gillibrand’s representative, explained her experiences with members and alumni of National Service organizations. She expressed to us the importance that she and Senator Gillibrand place on National Service. Ms. Gillibrand has consistently voted for service and will continue to do so, as she views National Service as a solution to the issues we are facing. Ms. Clark gave us a great deal of insight into what kind of work we can do locally to improve awareness of the importance of National Service, as well as to build our local advocacy network.
Rochester service advocates also did a drop-by visit to the office of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. We spoke with her staff to explain what National Service is and why organizations like ServeNext are working to keep National Service fully funded in 2012. Ms. Slaughter has also been an excellent supporter of service, and has voted to save service in the past. Rochester area advocates will be meeting with she and/or her staff again this month to have a more in-depth conversation about the future of funding for National Service, and what more we in the Rochester area can do to increase awareness.
Finally, we drove to Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle’s office at the Town Hall in Irondequoit. Similar to the February District Day when we had a blizzard, we drove through torrential rains to arrive at Ms. Buerkle’s office! Deb Essley, her local representative–and a familiar face for us–took the time out of her hectic day to catch-up on National Service. She also has experience with AmeriCorps members and alumni, and related the work that is being done through AmeriCorps to the issues that are facing our nation today. Ms. Essley highlighted the importance of clarification regarding where AmeriCorps funding comes from and where it is going, and appreciated the information we were able to provide. She also explained how significant it would be for us to be able to demonstrate ways in which we are being a “lean mean cost-cutting machine” and reducing the waste of the funding that does go to our program. Ms. Essley emphasized Congresswoman Buerkle’s goals of creating a more cost-effective, efficient government. We all agreed that it is time to put aside political differences and focus on what we, as a nation, need to do. June Carlson, former AmeriCorps NCCC member and current AmeriCorps State/National member, explained that if we delete AmeriCorps funding now with plans to reinstate it later, it will take a long time to rebuild programming to the point where it is currently. Instead, we are all hoping that we can find a solution to the current financial crises that the United States faces without eliminating programs that are a part of that solution.
All in all, District Day in Rochester NY was successful in that we learned from our representatives’ staff how to continue working on our end to improve understanding of the importance of National Service to the Rochester community and their Districts at large. Thanks for all of your work organizing the District Days, ServeNext!!!