Mar 14, 2017

Let Us Service: Resources

AmeriCorps and Senior Corps have enjoyed bi-partisan support, including the support of almost every president, since they were first launched in the mid-1960s. The current administration has been unclear on whether that history of support will continue - which is why we need to prepare to speak honestly, clearly, and quickly about the impact and support of national service in Connecticut and across the country.

Here are some resources to share and help you prepare your own call for support of national service:
...and here are some recent articles to get you thinking:

SOURCE: nationalservice.gov

Important Reminder: AmeriCorps Alums Connecticut has no direct affiliation and receives no funding from the Corporation from National and Community Service or other federal source. All opinions and links are offered in good faith with the intent to help. 

Let Us Serve: Sample Wording

Let Us Service - serviceyear.org
Service Year Alliance is helping to lead the charge for AmeriCorps advocacy.
Ready to take a stand for service, but not share where to start? Connecticut is fortunate to have extremely supportive representatives on a national level, but we still need to prepare them with real-world stories (and convince some of our local-level politicians that #AmeriCorpsWorks).

On March 7th, we were joined by Service Year Alliance's Laura Thompson, who shared a sneak peak of their storytelling training: "Public Narrative: The Story of Self, Us, Now."

For those who couldn't join us (and are unable to join Service Year for the full Action Summit taking place in Washington, DC at the end of March - details here: https://goo.gl/cZ5TK9), here is the cliffs notes version!
  1.  Self: What is YOUR national service story? Did it give you hope and guidance after struggling in high school or college? Were you able to help a student go from avoiding eye contact with teachers to giving everyone smiles and high fives? Did you help create a program that connected veterans with jobs? Share it here!
  2. Us: How does your story relate to the larger values and experience of the American people? A 2015 poll found that 83% of Americans support national service, so you are not alone. Don't overload your letter with facts, use those that speak most directly to your own experience and will be easy for your representatives to remember and share. We've gathered some resources HERE to get you started.
  3. Now: Why is the time NOW to support national service? As many have said, we think it's because national service is a unique American tradition that has the ability to pull together a divided nation. Why do you think it's important?
...
SAMPLE WORDING

Greetings, Senator XXX:

My name is Shannon, and I am writing to urge you to continue to support funding for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. Like many young adults, I was adrift and deep in debt after finishing college. 

My year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA not only gave me hope; it gave me direction and a life-long commitment to helping others. I am not alone - studies have shown that 60% of AmeriCorps alumni enter public service or work at a non-profit. 

My AmeriCorps service also connected me to the rich and uniquely-American tradition that puts service to our fellow citizens as our paramount responsibilities. With 83% of Americans in support of national service (and 62 million people volunteering each year), now is the time to support these programs to help pull together our fractured nation.

All the best,
Shannon Mykins
New Haven, Connecticut

Important Reminder: AmeriCorps Alums Connecticut has no direct affiliation and receives no funding from the Corporation from National and Community Service or other federal source. All opinions and links are offered in good faith with the intent to help. 

Mar 4, 2017

AmeriCorps Week 2017 is Here!

There is a lot to celebrate this year - more than 650 AmeriCorps members are currently serving and thousands more AmeriCorps Alums live and work here.

We hope to see and hear from you this week - if you can't make it to one of our events, please reach out via FacebookTwitter, or email us to share your story and get connected.

UPDATED 3/8/2017

Advocacy and Professional Development
Tuesday, March 7th, Carriage House Theater (Hartford)
Presented by Northeast Regional Field Director at Service Year Alliance, Laura Thompson, "Public Narrative: The Story of Self, Us, Now," will teach you the basics of how public narrative works, review the criteria for effective story of self, and allow you to practice your own story of self (and coach others).

Attendees will also have the opportunity to put their stories on paper to write to our representatives - sharing the AmeriCorps story and reiterating the importance of continued funding.

Note for currently serving members: you are welcome to attend, however we ask that you exclude yourself from the advocacy portion of the event and talk to your program's manager or director if you have any questions.


Celebrate
Wednesday, March 8th, BAR (New Haven)
We are partnering with PAVE New Haven, who are hosting an AmeriCorps Gathering. All are welcome to join - please invite your friends! RSVP on Facebook or join us any time after 5:30.

Service
Sunday, March 12th, Homes for the Braves
Join us as we prepare dinner for veterans at Homes for the Brave in honor of AmeriCorps Week! This is a great opportunity to connect with other alums and current members while cooking, and serve and connect with veterans at Homes for the Brave and Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes.

Please find more details and RSVP here or on Facebook so we know you're coming!
Made in AmeriCorps Logo

Do you have an AmeriCorps Week event you'd like to share? Please email our communications leader Shannon at slmykins (@) gmail.com with details and we will add it to the list!

Feb 24, 2017

Stand Up for Service - What YOU can do to help.

According to a NY Times article released a week ago, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are among the programs on the chopping block in the current administration's budget. Earlier this week, we asked you to call, Tweet, or fax your reps to ask them to stand up for national service. You did, and while it made a difference we are still a long way from ensuring that national service remains a priority of Congress, the White House, and the American people. Below are a couple of things you can do to stay involved and have your say.
...
United States Senator Dick Blumenthal is hosting the following Town Halls this weekend:
SATURDAY (Feb 25): 1:30 pm on Saturday at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven
SUNDAY (Feb 26): 1pm at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

UPDATE: Senator Blumenthal's Town Halls have passed, however US Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will be holding a Town Hall on Monday, March 6th from 5:30-7:00 pm at Hamden Middle School!

When attending a Town Hall, please remember the following tips:
  • Be prepared, both with your own story and the story of AmeriCorps (and other national service) in the state of Connecticut. More information about AmeriCorps' yearly impact in our state can be found here. 
  • Listen to directions and be mindful of others' time and the importance of the issues they came to speak about. When you are there as an AmeriCorps Alum, the hope is to win friends and supporters. 
  • Stick around afterwards (if it's okay!). You may be able to speak to a staffer or make important connections with other like-minded community members who may have never heard of AmeriCorps. 
  • It's okay to write things down - if you think you'll get nervous on the mic, write down what you want to say on an index card and bring it with you!
Sam Rigotti, an AmeriCorps VISTA alum who worked in a Congressional office after his service ended, shared some more tips if you can't make it to a Town Hall in-person:
  • Only contact YOUR Representatives and Senators; out of district mail is nice, but don't get logged or receive any official response. Connecticut's Senators are Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and you can find your Congresspeople here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
  • Contacting members through their websites is best; phone calls are also good, but due to the high volume of constituent calls lately they might be more easily overlooked.
  • For more social-media savvy members (especially Jim Himes), Tweet at them to get their attention (our friends at Service year Alliance has set up this amazing tool to make it easy - they even give you suggested language!: http://bit.ly/2kLnfku)
  • Try to get on the member's calendar for an in-person meeting; submit an online meeting request but call every couple of weeks to follow up if you haven't received a response (be flexible about the date and office location, if the member has more than one)
Thank you to our friend Sam Rigotti for sharing his expertise. All typos and hanging modifiers are ours. 

Feb 20, 2017

Take Action - Help Save AmeriCorps and Senior Corps

The Corporation for National and Community Service - which funds AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, among other programs aimed at making it easier for Americans to serve - has been marked for elimination, according to a NY Times article recently released.

Voices for National Service has sprung into action, creating this easy way to contact your representatives in Congress: http://voicesforservice.org/take-action/contact-congress/. Please use this link and share with your friends and networks. As we have all experienced, you never know whose been affected by AmeriCorps until you ask!

On March 7th, we will be partnering with Service Year Alliance for an in-person seminar in Hartford on how we can most effectively fight back - save the date!

It's important to note that while the Connecticut delegation have been overwhelmingly supportive of national service in the past, they still need to hear from you and hear your stories to be effective in advocating to keep the Corporation for National and Community Service in the budget.

More to come...