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Everyday Advocacy

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on May 24, 2012

Guest post by Amanda Lukas, a ServeNext District Captain.  Amanda is going into her senior year at University of Louisville in Kentucky. She is an alum of Bonner AmeriCorps program, which is a part time program for college students. 

Amanda Lukas with Michael Biagi of Senator McConnell’s office

When ServeNext asked me to lead two meetings with my Members of Congress as part of Save Service District Days, I was extremely nervous. My first question was would they even listen to me? As soon as it was discovered that I was a college student, with no real experience in these matters, I was afraid they wouldn’t listen. However, I agreed because I wanted to at least TRY.  So I set up meetings with Congressman Yarmuth and a staff member of Senator McConnell.

The first meeting with Congressman Yarmuth was very successful. He was already a supporter of keeping national service organizations in the budget. When I was doing my research, I began to realize that it wasn’t about convincing him to support us, but to encourage him to continue supporting us. He listened to me and the other two women at the meeting; he listened to our arguments and explained the dilemmas going on in Capitol Hill. He explained the arguments being used by the non-supporters.

There were a few important things that came from the meeting. One, the two women and I who had the meeting with Congressman Yarmuth gave the Congressman faces to associate with the issue; he now had personal testimony to bring back to Capitol Hill. Two, he gave us advice that could help kept national service organizations surviving. Three, he listened to what we had to say, which gave us all confidence that someone with more clout is paying attention to this issue. When we left the meeting, I think we made an impact. Again, it was with only one Congressman who already supported our argument, but it made enough of a difference, because it can take only one small action to make a huge change.

The next meeting I had with the staffer of Senator McConnell was something I walked into much more prepared and confident than I would have if I hadn’t met with Congressman Yarmuth first. I had to speak to the staffer by myself, with no other service supporters in the room. I had my arguments formed and my discussion points planned. It was something I was prepared for.

Again, I was listened to, and it seemed as if the staffer was impressed by how I could articulate my ideas and my arguments. The fact that I was a college student with seemingly little experience with this wasn’t a problem and didn’t hurt my credibility. My efforts made an impact. Maybe it wasn’t a large one, maybe it didn’t change any views, but these two representatives have a face and a name to put on this issue.

I just want to say very clearly what I learned from this- anyone can advocate. Not only that, though, but everyone already advocates every day.

Advocacy is defined as the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending.  Everyone advocates for something every day. Whether you are yelling at someone who cut the line, trying to talk your professor into giving you that extra point, or going to a rally to support a nominee, everyone advocates on some level every single day. It is part of our nature, isn’t it? If we believe in something, we advocate for it. We make sure the issue, whether it be a personal or political issue, is heard and given attention.

Every time you advocate for something, you make an impact, even if it only affects one person. I am going to keep on advocating for national service as a District Captain because every person counts.

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Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, ServeNext, service | Leave a Comment »

From AmeriCorps Member to National Service Advocate

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on March 22, 2012

Katherine Jones with Sen. Blumenthal

Katherine with Senator Blumenthal

This post was written by ServeNext Organizer Katherine Jones 

My experience as a ServeNext Organizer empowered me to realize that I have a voice and can make a difference. Before my involvement with ServeNext, I wanted to be an advocate for national service, but I didn’t know where to turn or how to start. I felt like I was one of many in the community and that my voice would not be effective in making change. But throughout this year I gained valuable skills and I know now that I can use my voice for any issue that interests me.

I joined ServeNext right after finishing my year of service with AmeriCorps. I knew I wanted to continue being involved in the national service community and to also explore my interest in advocacy. ServeNext gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my passions and further my career at the same time.Through my work as an Organizer, I gained the experience and national network of contacts to make myself a sought-after commodity. The skills needed to be an Organizer are in demand, and it’s no wonder considering how much I’ve been able to accomplish during my time at ServeNext.

The skills I gained through ServeNext are already starting to pay off. I am going back to graduate school and applied for a competitive internship this summer. I was hired for the position and told that I was chosen over other candidates because of my experience with ServeNext.

I am especially proud of the meetings I was able to set up with Congresswoman Rosa Delauro of Connecticut and Congressman Frank Guinta of New Hampshire. Both meetings were very gratifying, but the meeting with Congressman Gunita was most inspirational because we changed his opinionof the value for service in New Hampshire. We were able to put service on the Congressman’s agenda and hopefully it will make a difference in the future when he thinks about cutting funding to national service programs.

The Organizer program is incredibly valuable to communities because the position works to unite the community. In New Hampshire, there were a variety of service professionals that wanted to get involved in advocacy efforts, but, similar to my experience, were unsure of what to do.  As an Organizer, I was able to collaborate with service professionals and work with them on developing ideas and strategies for advocating in their state.

As my term ends with ServeNext, I know that my time spent in New Hampshire ignited a fire that was waiting to be lit in members of the local community where I served and I know that they will continue to make a difference after I have left.

I encourage others who have a passion for national service advocacy to apply to be a ServeNext Organizer. The deadline is April 6 and you can apply online at www.servenext.org/2012.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Jobs/Internships, National Service, ServeNext, service, Stories Of Service | 4 Comments »

March Madness for National Service

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on March 13, 2012

ImageMarch Madness kicks off today with 68 college basketball teams facing each other in an action packed single elimination tournament.  However there is another great team that needs your attention this month: the ServeNext field team.

Two weeks ago we launched the application for the 2012 ServeNext Organizer positions and I’m thrilled to report we’ve already received a ton of interest.  But before we select our Elite Eight, we need your help to ensure we consider all the top prospects the national service community has to offer.

Nominate an all-star today who you think would be a great fit for our team.

In less time than it takes to complete your tournament bracket, you can give us your picks for who you think should lead our local efforts to advance national service in 2012.  If your nominee submits an application, we’ll send you a free ServeNext t-shirt.  And if your nominee gets hired, we will send you a $50 gift card from Amazon.com.

The stakes for national service in 2012 are high.  In basketball, if a team gets eliminated in the tournament they can always try again next year.  For us, we are not that lucky.  If AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the entire Corporation for National and Community Service gets eliminated, like some in Congress keep pushing to do, there is no next year.

Help us ensure that doesn’t happen.  Make a nomination today or visit servenext.org/2012 for more information.

NOTE: 2012 ServeNext Organizers are full-time positions for a six month term from June through December.  Ideal candidates include service supporters in between jobs, individuals completing their term of AmeriCorps or Senior Corps by June 15th, and retired professionals passionate about national service.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, Jobs/Internships, ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

Be The Change Welcomes Deborah Jospin to Board of Directors

Posted by Zach Maurin on March 7, 2012

Reposting this statement — it’s great news. Deb, a Board member of ServeNext, is joining the BTC board as part of our merger with ServiceNation.

Be The Change, Inc., the parent organization behind the Opportunity Nation and ServiceNation campaigns, today announced the addition of Deborah Jospin to its Board of Directors.

“We are humbled to have such an experienced member of the nonprofit community join our team,” said Kevin Jennings, CEO, of Be The Change.  “From attorney to author, philanthropist to civil servant, Deb’s expertise working across so many sectors will be an incredible asset as we work to demonstrate the power collaborative efforts can have in creating positive change in America.  I’m extremely pleased to welcome her to our board and look forward to both working with and learning from her.”
“I am thrilled to be working with Kevin and his very talented staff on issues that are so important to our communities and our country.  Both ServiceNation and Opportunity Nation are poised to do great things, and I am excited to be a small part of it all.”
Jospin is partner and co-founder of sagawa/jospin, a consulting group that specializes in designing and guiding the social ventures of foundations and nonprofit organizations through strategic planning, board development, program design, and policy development.
Prior to starting her consulting practice, she served in a variety of private sector and government roles.

Ms. Jospin was appointed Director of AmeriCorps by President Clinton in 1997, after having served as Associate General Counsel and Chief of Staff of the Corporation for National Service, the federal agency that oversees the AmeriCorps program.  Her dedication to AmeriCorps continues to this day.  In addition to being a founding board member of AmeriCorps Alums and ServeNext, Ms. Jospin serves on the board of Music National Service.  Ms. Jospin also served as Deputy Team Leader for the Obama Agency Review Transition Team, reviewing the operations of the organization.

A 1980 graduate of Tufts University, Jospin has maintained her involvement with her alma mater.  When Tufts University created what is now known as the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service,  Jospin was asked to be a founding member of its Board and now serves as its Chair.  She also serves as a Trustee of Tufts, chairing its Council of Boards of Overseers and serving on its Executive Committee.  In 2009, she received the Light on the Hill Award, the highest honor that the undergraduate student body bestows on Tufts alumni.

Jospin is the co-author of The Charismatic Organization: Eight Ways to Grow a Nonprofit that Builds Buzz, Delights Donors and Engages Employees.  She earned an MSc in Public Policy from the London School of Economics in 1983 and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1989.

Jospin lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband Chris Gallagher, and her sons, Jon and Matt Dutko.

For more information about Be The Change and its campaigns, please visit http://www.bethechangeinc.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2012

CONTACT: Christopher Cashman, 212-804-6370 ccashman@bethechangeinc.org

Posted in ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

Big News: Hiring Nationwide to Expand Service

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on March 1, 2012

I’m thrilled to announce a major milestone for ServeNext – and even make a little history. 

We’re hiring a team of full-time ServeNext Organizers around the country.

This is a first for the national service movement and one of the exciting benefits of our merger with ServiceNation.  The timing could not be more critical.  The political climate is getting tougher because members of Congress have to make even more spending cuts.

You know that national service is one of the best investments around and deeply needed.  It’s time to get AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the entire Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) growing again!

We’re looking nationwide for leaders who are deeply passionate about national service and will relentlessly advocate on its behalf.

Can you help us find the best candidates?

We will select eight Organizers to work from June – December in their communities.  The application deadline is April 6.  We’ll be reviewing them on a rolling basis and encourage potential applicants to apply early. For more information visit:www.servenext.org/2012.

The 2012 field team will build on the tremendous impact of you, our current team of part-time Organizers, Voices for National Service, and tens of thousands more who fought back threats of elimination last year.  They will collaborate with these groups and others going forward to build the strongest voice yet for national service.

Help us spread the word loud and far. Tweetshare on Facebook, forward this email, or use a carrier pigeon — however you can best share this exciting opportunity.

Let us know if you need anything.  And thanks for your help,

Zach, Jerry, Morgan and the entire ServeNext + ServiceNation team

PS – Do you work at a national service organization with a newsletter or blog, know any good job boards, or have other ways to spread the word? Here’s a short description you can post:

ServeNext is looking nationwide for outstanding leaders who are deeply passionate about national service and ready to advocate relentlessly on its behalf.  The eight selected will work from June – December in their communities. We’re reviewing applications on a rolling basis with an April 6 deadline. To apply, learn more, or nominate an outstanding leader, visit www.servenext.org/2012

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Jobs/Internships, National Service, ServeNext, service | 1 Comment »

AmeriCorps Week 2012 – Save AmeriCorps Strategy Sessions in Columbus, Chicago, Miami, Helena, and Rochester

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on March 1, 2012

ImageFor AmeriCorps Week 2012, ServeNext is partnering with AmeriCorps Alums and other local service organizations to co-host Save AmeriCorps Strategy Sessions. With so much at stake for AmeriCorps and all national service programs in FY13, each ServeNext network welcomes every service supporter and organization that utilizes AmeriCorps to discuss how they can best work together locally to showcase the value and impact AmeriCorps provides to their community and win support for AmeriCorps.

Central Ohio Save AmeriCorps Strategy Session

Hosted by:
ServeNext Columbus, HandsOn Cenral Ohio, and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks
Location: HandsOn Central Ohio, 195 North Grant Avenue, Columbus, OH  43215
Date:
Monday, March 12th, 2012
Time: 6:00PM – 7:30PM
Event Contact: Rachel Diskin, rdiskin@servenext.org
R.S.V.P. online at: servenext.org/networks/columbusstrategysession


Chicago – AmeriCorps Works Leadership Forum

Hosted by: AmeriCorps Alums Chicago and ServeNext Chicago
Location: National Louis University, 122 S Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor Atrium, Chicago, IL 60603
Date:
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Event Contact: cclosser@servenext.org
R.S.V.P online at:
americorpsworks.eventbrite.com/


Miami Save Service Strategy Session


Hosted by:
ServeNext Miami and AmeriCorps Alums Miami
Location: Catalyst Miami (formerly known as the Human Services Coalition), 1900 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 200, Miami, FL 33132
Date:
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Event Contacts: Catherine Houlihan, choulihan@servenext.org; Darrill Gaschler, d.a.gaschler@gmail.com
R.S.V.P online at: servenext.org/networks/miamistrategysession


Montana Save Service Strategy Session


Hosted by:
Montana AmeriCorps Alums and ServeNext Montana
Location: Montana Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center, 2668 Broadwater Ave, Helena, MT 59602
Date:
Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Event Contact: Heather Margolis, hmargolis@servenext.org
R.S.V.P. online at: servenext.org/networks/montanastrategysession


Rochester Save AmeriCorps Strategy Session


Hosted by:
ServeNext Rochester and AmeriCorps Alums Rochester
Location: Tango Cafe, 389 Gregory St, Rochester NY 14620
Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012
Time: 5:30PM – 7:00PM
Event Contact: Stephanie Sacco, ssacco@servenext.org
R.S.V.P. online at: servenext.org/networks/rochesterstrategysession

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

Talking National Service with Presidential Hopefuls in the Granite State

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on January 9, 2012

With 1 day to go until the first in the nation New Hampshire primary, all eyes are on the Granite State.  Of course that doesn’t count the thousands of eyes instead focused on tonight’s BCS Championship Game between Alabama and LSU in New Orleans, but everyone else.

Over the last couple of months, ServeNext Organizer Katherine Jones and network member June Carlson have been attending town halls put on by the various Presidential contenders and talking to them face to face about the tremendous value and impact of service to New Hampshire and the country as a whole.  From Mitt Romney, to Rick Santorum, to Jon Huntsman, they explained how service programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are great cost effective investments in the people of our country to solve community challenges locally.

For example, Katherine and June talked about how Senior Corps helps save the government money from costly nursing home expenses by helping seniors stay independent in their homes.  They mentioned how AmeriCorps members help save both money and energy by weathering homes and keeping folks warm during the harsh New Hampshire winter months.  And of course they explained how they themselves have benefited when they served in AmeriCorps by gaining critical job skills and earning a small stipend to help pay for college.  National service is a win-win-win.

While the outcome of tomorrow’s primary is yet to be decided, one candidate who seems to be getting some momentum is former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.  Katherine and June caught up with Gov. Huntsman at a town hall back in November and asked him if he would support national service as President of the United States.   Check out the video to see what he said.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

ServeNext and ServiceNation Announce Merger!

Posted by Zach Maurin on January 5, 2012

Dear ServeNext Community,

When we started ServeNext five years ago, the details about how we were going to fight for national service were unclear.  But one thing was crystal clear: after four consecutive years of cuts in Congress, there needed to be a powerful grassroots army of advocates who would refuse to let this stand.

Today, I’m humbled to report that with your support, ServeNext has become that organization.  Our efforts have repeatedly staved off crippling cuts to AmeriCorps and other great national service programs. We’ve won support from presidential candidates to help pave the way for the bipartisan Serve America Act.  And over the last two years, we’ve expanded our work and now have an annual team of field organizers.

These victories have kept the wind in our sails, but in the face of new and evolving political challenges that threaten the national service movement, we need to get bigger, better, and stronger.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that ServeNext is joining forces with ServiceNation, the national bipartisan campaign dedicated to increasing service opportunities and elevating service as a core ideal and problem-solving strategy in America.  By combining our resources, skills, and staffs, we will increase our efficiency and our impact at a time when both are needed.

ServeNext will be acquired by Be The Change, Inc., the parent organization of the ServiceNation campaign, and will serve as the grassroots advocacy arm of the campaign. Moving forward, the activities and operations of both ServiceNation and ServeNext will occur under the ServiceNation banner.

We are grateful for the support of both Boards of Directors who unanimously approved this decision.  We are grateful to our funders, partners, and field organizers who are excited about the merger and the many who provided invaluable guidance along the way.

And, of course, we are grateful to you, our members, and our field team. It’s because of individuals stepping up to fight for national service that has made ServeNext successful.  That success is the reason we’re in a position to take this great step.

We will be rolling out more details in the near future, but I want to share some initial benefits:

1)    Our budget from 2011 to 2012 will double – this means doubling our staff and significantly increasing the capacity of our grassroots operations;
2)    Be The Change, Inc.’s larger team will provide a huge increase in support and expertise for fundraising, communication, strategy, and more;
3)    ServeNext’s team will spend less time managing the back office and more time fighting for national service.

In other words, 1+1=3.

The years ahead in Congress are going to be turbulent. But as a result of this merger, we’re putting ourselves in the best position possible to succeed at a time when our children, communities, and the entire country deeply need a robust national service movement.

I’m excited, our team is excited, and we hope you are too.  There are plenty more details to come, but please let me know if you have questions or thoughts in the meantime.

Thank you for your support, passion, and commitment to ServeNext.  I hope you will continue to support our work as part of ServiceNation.  We’re still the same ServeNext, just bigger, better, and stronger.

Zach

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, ServeNext | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

District Day with Rep. Tom Latham

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on August 10, 2011

Post by Jordan Jones, ServeNext Organizer for Des Moines:

The central Iowa chapter of ServeNext kicked off District Day a little early. One day early to be exact. On the bright, sunny morning of August 9th we were privileged to meet with Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District and his Regional Representative Michele Mustain.

Our group was a good mix of both service members and professional non-profit directors. The Foster Grandparents program was particularly well-represented. The Congressman was very respectful towards us and seemed touched by some of the stories he was told. One senior citizen told of her ongoing battle with cancer and said that her Senior Corps stipend helped her pay for her prescription drugs. Another woman described the reluctance of some businesses to hire the elderly. The Foster Grandparents program was perfect for her, she said, providing her with a way to keep her finances in order. As she told us, she wanted to work for her money and was raised “never to take a handout.”

Our professional directors informed the Congressman as to the nature of their work. One of the most unique projects they described involved the planting of a community garden, a project designed to teach children about science, nutrition and why they should eat their veggies. We also heard from a director of an RSVP program, who described the way in which budget cuts would and are hobbling their efforts to improve local communities.

As for myself, I brought up the fact that AmeriCorps members are currently deployed in Hamburg, IA, monitoring levees and safeguarding the little town from a disastrous flood. In that location, AmeriCorps members are doing some of the work normally reserved for the National Guard and local law enforcement. Needless to say, they are saving the government a ton of money.

In a closing statement, I told Rep. Latham that this “wasn’t about big government or small government, but effective government.” The CNCS provides work—and work well worth doing—to the elderly, the young and anyone in between. It fills a vital niche and is directed towards solving our most pressing problems. Nobody is looking for a handout or wanting to be a so-called “paid volunteer.” They just want to serve their communities

The Congressman seemed sympathetic to our arguments and very gracious. I hope he remembers our words when he’s back in DC.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, ServeNext | Leave a Comment »

 
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