[Community-service] On the "Hill" and in the community.

Cheryl Fields cherylelaine1957 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 31 03:38:00 UTC 2015


A few weeks ago, I was at my regular community service project. A monthly food distribution and Senator Sherrod Brown and his wife were there for about an half hour. He was very cordial, as usual and his wife is very kind and friendly. However, I administrate this program and was extremely busy, others were trying to engage him and if he did not observe that I am blind no one probably mentioned it. They would not mention that I am a member of nfb either. When I am there I do not use my cane and most folks are used to me, no novelty. 
As a matter of fact, I never thought about speaking to him about nfb, lots of activity during the food distribution. The new ceo of the greater Cleveland Food Bank was there with her admin assistant, they arrived early and I had lots of time to talk to them, again, nfb did not enter the conversation. 
I believe that we must remain visible in our communities at every level. Work diligently and sincerely while volunteering. When it is time to meet with legislators, maybe we could invite them to us a little more often so that the nfb name/ brand is firmly placed into their minds. This is quite a quandary. Perhaps, we should ask ourselves what we wish to achieve when volunteering, Cheryl

-----Original Message-----
From: Community-service [mailto:community-service-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Chris Parsons via Community-service
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 10:15 PM
To: Community Service Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Community-service] On the "Hill" and in the community.

Darian and all,

Darian, I find this to be a really interesting question. Thank you for asking it; it has definitely got me pondering.

So far in my pondering, I've had difficulty coming up with a direct link between us engaging in community service/volunteerism and our lawmakers becoming more aware of us and our ultimate goals. I think this is because the things we typically think of doing that more directly raise lawmakers' 
awareness of us--volunteering with political campaigns, participating in the education that happens during Washington Seminar and the state legislative days, and even joining a local council dealing with particular issues, such as transportation--are considered advocacy rather than community service. 
All of these things are important components in our effort to raise lawmakers'--and the general public's--awareness of us, the issues that matter to us, and our ultimate goals, but they are not community service as I think it is typically understood.

So then I started thinking how our involvement in those activities which we do typically consider to be community service might help to raise lawmakers' 
awareness of us. As a bit of a stretch, I think that if one of our lawmakers happened also to be participating in a service project in which one or some of us were participating, this would be a great opportunity to educate them--both through our actions and our words--about our true capacity as blind people and our ultimate goals. In some ways, I think something like this might even have the possibility to serve as a stronger testament to our true capacity as blind people than visiting our lawmakers in their offices, talking to them about the issues that are important to us, and sharing our stories because they would see us directly engaging in efforts to give back to and be active participants in our communities.

However, I would imagine that in general, lawmakers are unaware of a large majority of service projects and volunteer work done by their consstituents, unless the project or work receives media attention for some reason. As a result, I think that our advocacy efforts as individuals and as members of the National Federation of the Blind probably do more to raise lawmakers' 
awareness of our capacity and our goals than do our community service efforts. However, as I said at the beginning of this message, I find this to be a really interesting question, and I'm really curious to hear others' 
thoughts about how these two things might be linked.

Chris


-----Original Message----- 
From: Darian Smith via Community-service
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 3:25 AM
To: Community Service Discussion List
Subject: [Community-service] On the "Hill" and in the community.

Hi All:

  I’m sure many of you are    returning from Washington Seminar having  had 
a  successful experience educating our lawmakers on the issues that mean the 
most to us as blind americans, the issues  that when  addressed will get us 
one step closer to living the lives we want.
I was contemplating the idea of community service/ voluntarism and  if 
involvement both  as individuals and as members of the NFB can somehow help 
those public servants on the “Hill”   gain an understanding of our true 
capacity and what we need to get to our ultimate end goal?
   thoughts?
   Darian
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