Local League Events
Please send us photos of your Local League events! Share what worked well and get ideas from this page for speakers and activities your members will enjoy. Here we highlight one very timely presentation:
LWV of the Palatine Area (http://www.lwvpalatinearea.org) recently hosted a gathering of 14 of their area’s social, healthcare and environmental not-for-profits, many of which are critical safety nets for the area’s struggling citizens. Several of these organizations face closure or curtailment of services due to the failure of funding by the State of Illinois as a consequence of the budget impasse in Springfield.
Each organization was asked to detail their sources of financial support and challenges they face to continue their missions in the face of cut-backs by governmental, private and corporate sponsors.
One dominant theme -- all of the organizations counted on fundraisers from local donors. Some were funded almost entirely this way, such as Citizens for Conservation http://citizensforconservation.org and Barb’s Precious (Cat) Rescue http://barbspreciousrescue.org.
Others also had the benefit of foundation or area church support like Sierra Club http://www.sierraclub.org/illinois/northwest-cook-county and Journeys (homeless services) http://www.journeystheroadhome.org.
Some of these non-profits depend on a variety of sources including some local governmental support. One example is Escorted Transportation Services (volunteers driving seniors to medical appointments) http://www.etsnw.org which receives some of its funding from area townships. Shelter Inc.(families in crisis) http://shelter-inc.org and Resources for Community Living http://rcl2bindependent.org, both depend on some state funding that has been withheld due to the Illinois budget crisis, while Access to Care http://www.accesstocare.org (primary health care program for under- and uninsured) is scheduled to see its funding from Cook County be cut by 50%.
Corporations provide partial support to some non-profits, such as HandsOn Suburban Chicago http://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness http://www.namiccns.org and Housing Task Force http://housingtaskforce.org.
Clearbrook (state-wide organization providing opportunities for children and adults with developmental challenges) http://www.clearbrook.org continues to receive state funding through a court order, but expects demand for its services to swell as it absorb clients of other organizations that will be shut down if the Illinois budget crisis does not end soon.
Several of the represented organizations did depend mostly on the state for funding and were operating on faith that they would be paid, acknowledging if the Illinois budget crisis did not end soon, they would have to shut down some or all of their programming. These included Kenneth Young Center http://www.kennethyoung.org which has not been paid by the state since July 1st.
Even after a Illinois budget is passed, Kenneth Young Center is scheduled to lose $280,000 of its funding for psychiatrist services, a key factor in keeping their clients functional and out of the hospital or jail Bridge Youth Services http://bridgeyouth.org is another organization which, without state funding, will not to be able to do the preventative work needed to help these youth become productive and healthy citizens.
All of these organizations do rely on the generosity of local citizens through fundraisers and the work of many volunteers. During this time of budget deficits these non-profits are more dependent than ever on the community stepping up and supporting their efforts.
LWV Evanston collected brand new towels for the YWCA domestic violence shelter at their member holiday event.
Day in the Life of a Legislator
Every day is different. You might start on a conference call about health care, move on to help a constituent get his passport (overnight), coordinate your bosses’ next speech, and end the day delving into a complex piece of pending legislation.
At the League of Women Voters of Glenview/Glencoe luncheon in November, Ann Limjoco, suburban director for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Abbey Eusebio, the Congresswoman’s constituent advocate; Joseph Piasecki, chief of staff for State Senator Julie Morrison; and the League’s own Shiva Mohsenzadeh, chief legislative aide for State Representative Laura Fine, shared a few “day in a life” tales, reminisce about their own career paths, and provide insight into the best way to connect with your elected officials.
“Our districts are pretty sophisticated,” noted Mohsenzadeh, “and our constituents expect us to know the issues in-depth.” Piasecki agreed, noting, “They certainly aren’t satisfied with a vague answer.” That means a legislative aide needs to know those issues inside and out. But first and foremost, these aides are there to serve. District offices offer a wealth of services, from help with immigration status to arranging White House tours. But as Limjoco noted, “That’s what makes this job great – it’s incredibly satisfying to help people solve a problem.” Eusebio agreed. “Even if we can’t help directly with a constituent’s problem, we can always point them in the right direction.”
All our guests agreed: legislators listen! Whether you use snail mail, email, or a telephone call, your elected officials do want to know what you’re thinking. Tallying and responding to this feedback can make for long days, but our speakers were undaunted. All had found their way to legislative work because they wanted to make a difference in the public arena.
Asked if any of them planned to run for office themselves, there were smiles all around. “I think we like the behind-the-scenes work,” said Piasecki. “It’s where we can just dig in and make a difference.”
By Janet Spector Bishop
League of Women Voters – Glenview/Glencoe