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“Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities” Professional Fellows from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia in the USA October 1 - November 10, 2012 GUESTS’ VOLUNTEERING IN THE U.S. 16 European fellows spent six weeks in the U.S. to learn different community organizing methods in engaging citizens as active participants in solving problems in their own communities. They also ex-

plored how to build power and leadership in minority communities that can contribute to positive changes in legislation that make a difference in their community. They gained hands-on experience at civil society

institutions and participated in their daily activities. This report with highlights from the European fellows focuses on their participation in direct actions across the U.S.

Volunteering in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio Zsolt Peter Fugg: “On Sunday, October 28 I participated in the "Tent city" program in downtown Toledo. Tents were set up next to the Main Library where homeless people usually gather.

Tent city is about getting the homeless connected to services, for free, they may not have access to receive on their own. Clothing for men, women and children, medical, food and social services were among the services available. Flu shots, foot care, HIV tests, dental care and haircuts were available.

Every shelter and progressive service providers and the local government, media, restaurants participated and worked together and volunteers connected face-to-face with people in poverty during the event.

“On October 25 I helped cleaning out a burnt store in Detroit with 12 people, all from the Arab American community. Some were friends of the store owner, but most of them did not even know the store, they just wanted to help a fellow member of the community. Several of them were involved previously with other volunteering actions at ACCESS. Gloves and masks were provided for the volunteers. I personally felt really good about this activity because the voluntary participation of so many young people clearly shows the cohesive force.”

This weekend long event is organized each year to raise awareness about homelessness. It began in 1990, and gets bigger every year. I volunteered there to give food for homeless people, or anyone who wants to hang around and is interested.”

*/ Sponsored by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Organized by the Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development with WSOS Community Action Commission, Inc. – Contract Agent and Manager Website: Facebook: GLC_TeachDemocracy Contact:

Volunteering in Painesville, Ohio Vlad Catuna: “Each Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, St. Gabriel's Karpos ministry cooks and serves meals for the homeless in downtown Painesville, at St. Mary's Catholic Church. High school age youth and adults are welcome from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to assist and help prepare the meal for those in need.

sense of a community, respect and acceptance. The food comes from the Cleveland Food Bank and dona-

tions from area churches and individuals.” (with my host Kathy on this photo)

Since I was staying at Kathy and Dan Phillips, one of my host families who are also involved in this I had the opportunity to attend on Wednesday, October 17 and give some help. Along with the other volunteers I prepared and served hot, homemade meals for the hungry folks. Not only homeless people, but anyone who came. It was Karpos third anniversary, and each folk received a happy birthday present. I found there, while serving dinner and looking at the people, a

“On October 14, with Kathy I went to help St. Vincent Organization, from Saint Mary Catholic Church to take packages of blankets for homeless people. All went fast, as many volunteers attented. I took advantage of being there and learned more about the activities they are doing there with hispanic communities: English lessons, computer lessons, assistance and help in any problem they confront.”

Presentation in Church “I held two presentations in two different churches about my activities and fracking issue in Romania. The first presentation was done in the Unitarian Church in Rocky River city (photo to the left). The second presentation was done in the church of Ravenna City (photo to the right).” Page 2

“Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities”

Volunteering in Chicago, Illinois

“At Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC) we have been doing phone calls to ask LAC constituents if they would like to go to a meeting held by the organization on Economic Security. We have also helped LAC with two small research projects: we have gathered data on the number of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units in Chicago and the price for

each of them by calling SRO managers directly. We have gathered census data on two wards in Chicago, Lakeview and Lincoln Park. On two occasions, we have spread flyers in apartment buildings located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. The flyers were either inviting people to come to LAC's meeting on Economic Security or to get people to call LAC about ways in which they can get involved in healthcare issues.

Radu Raileanu: “As volunteers, we have taken part at activity at Lincoln Shelter and I have also gone door knocking with Jane Addams Senior Caucus in a trailer park near Chicago in order to spread flyers about where regis-

tered voters can vote and about early voting. Monika had some other activity that day and she could not attend this activity. But she did her volunteering work to prepare sandwiches for lunches for the shelter house.”

Radu Raileanu and Monika Bandurova:

Another thing we have done was to read through all LAC grant proposals that were financed by foundations and find how much money had been awarded to LAC, when reports were due and who was the contact person.”

“On October 30, Monday, we do voluntary work - calling people to come over on 30th big rally.”

Volunteering in New York, New York Andreea Buzec: With our intern company, Community Voices Heard (CVH), Balint Vojtonovszki and I volunteered on 2 different occasions: - outreach to people on welfare, involved in the Work Experience Program/ WEP in order to gather their contacts for base building and to familiarize them with the involvement of CVH in the welfare campaign; - entering gathered contacts in the database of CVH;

We also assisted in preparing and organizing invitations to be sent

Professional Fellows in the U.S. (October 1 - November 10, 2012)

through mail for the upcoming CVH fundraising event.

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Volunteering in Springfield, Bloomington & Decatur, Illinois Nicu Dumitru: On October 24 in Springfield at the First Presbyterian Church we hold a short presentation to the people attending the Wednesday mass.

We talked about the program, our home activity, history of Roma people in our country, Roma people’s actual situation in our countries, importance of education.

Also I talked about myself and my work. The people seemed to be very interested and they asked a lot of questions.

“We volunteered by walking around in the city, putting out flyers and factsheet in the stores about fracking. We have been meeting people, talking about fracking and inviting them to the fracking community meeting.

Henriett Dinok: “In Bloomington on October 29, in IPA’s office we helped to make signs for the Zombie Action and Press Release. Nicu is the face of the event like a Zombie.

We had a meeting with Illinois People’s Action’s (IPA) members on October 29 at the First Lutheran Church in Decatur, where we talked about the program, our home activity and answered a member's questions.”

To see Zombie Press release use the link:


Community Voices Heard (New York, New York); Lakeview Action Coalition (Chicago, Illinois); Illinois People’s Action (Bloomington, Illinois); Step by Step (Charleston, West Virginia); Sisters of the Road (Portland, Oregon); Bread and Roses (Olympia, Washington); Maine People’s Action (Portland, Maine); Sunflower Community Action (Wichita, Kansas); NEOGAP (Cleveland, Ohio); Ohio Environmental Council (Columbus, Ohio); One Village Council (Toledo, Ohio); Harriet Tubman Center (Detroit, Michigan); ACCESS (Dearborn, Michigan) Page 4

“Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities”

Volunteering in Portland, Oregon Mihaela Grigoriu:

Anda Lupusor:

“On Wednesday, October 17, Anda Lupusor and I were invited by Lucy Davenport, our host in Portland to the Quakers Church to volunteer and serve food for poor people.

“We volunteered in the Sisters of the Road café a couple of times to serve food and to help in the kitchen. People come to eat at the Sisters of the Road café every day. The café for homeless people is not only a place where they eat. It is a place where they can meet each other, where they can use the bath-

room and where they are treated with respect and dignity.” Sisters’ has partnered with Portland Community Media (PCM) to provide media technology trainings to members of the Sisters’ community. They used these skills to their stories, stories about their experiences with homelessness and extreme poverty.”

The church does offer the homeless persons a healthy food.

Volunteering in Olympia, Washington Anda Lupusor and Mihaela Grigoriu: Camp Quiote, a homeless shelter, where we volunteered for two shifts (3 hours per shift). Anda cooked for them, but she was helped by one of the resident of the camp. Everyday they have to do shift to contribute to the camp activities. They enjoyed Anda’s cooking!

Professional Fellows in the U.S. (October 1 - November 10, 2012)

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Volunteer help in Charleston, West Virginia Jolana Natherova and Marcela Beresova: “During our first week with our U.S. hosting organization: Step by Step, we could attend afterschool program in South Park in Charleston. We met with children and helped them with their homeworks. Afterward our roles have

been changed. Children became our teachers. We were doing spelling tests, math exercises and science tests. Together we were learning from each other. We could also meet some of children´s parents, working staff and spent some time with them. It was very invaluable time for us.”

Volunteering in Community Center Library in Big Ugly, West Virginia Michael Tierney (U.S. Mentor, Director of Step by Step): “Jolana Natherova helped at the library of the Big Ugly Community Center to organize books. She also helped with a training that our organization did with our VISTA volunteers. She prepared a power point presentation that we used as an example for a training we did on story telling and documentation at our sites. Thanks for your help!

Volunteer help at the Festival Big Ugly Jolana Natherova: “I helped at the festival as a volunteer in Chalestone. There I am on the left photo with my host Linda Elliott. Volunteering at the festival allowed me to be involved in stories and fairy tales (photo to the right).”

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“Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities”

Volunteer help in Portland, Maine Krisztina Molnar: “On October 20, Saturday, Nedka Taneva and I did volunteer work helping in the community garden in organic farming. We could get acquainted with the concept of com-

munity gardening. The Giants Belly farm is a special pilot community in Greenplace. Some families with their children live together in a farm. They try to organize self supported life in a healthy and sus-

tainable way. The story telling and having dinner together were the other important points of the program. The food was so delicious! We enjoyed meeting and work together with them!”

“On October 19, Friday, we helped our hosting organization Maine People’s Association (MPA) with data entry and Phone bank. It was a different experience and we were glad to help and learn from it that we may use in our home organizations after return.”

Volunteering experience in Auburn, Maine Nedka Taneva: “Krisztina Molnar and I volunteered in the State of Maine in the cities of Lewiston, Auburn and Portland. We helped with the Fair Share Economy campaign between October 15 – 27, for rebuilding Maine’s middle class in the state. We helped distributing and deliver materials related to the campaign. We went to talk and inform the citizens, and made a survey in Auburn. It was an interesting experience. We could practice door to door conversation and phone banking.

We worked together with several volunteers and more community organizers at Maine People’s Action (MPA) our U.S. hosting organization. We enjoyed working with: - Gen Lysen Lead Community Organizer (October 15 – 20) in Lewiston, - Jennie Pirkl Community Organizer (October 23) in Portland, - Caroline Ginsberg (October 24) in Mid-Coast – Damariscotta, - Kevin Simowitz (October 25 – 26) Yourk County – Wells.”

Sincere “THANK YOU” to all Host Families and Friends for Their Support! Professional Fellows in the U.S. (October 1 - November 10, 2012)

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Volunteering in Wichita, Kansas Kaloyan Damyanov: “Milena Kacmarcikova and I participated as volunteers in local activities in Wichita. Of special interest to me was my work at The Ark Sedgwick County. The Ark provides comprehensive services that promote the general welfare of all persons with intellectual and devel-

opmental disabilities and increase public awareness and acceptance. I participated in two activities of the organization. One was related to the serving of food on the occasion of party organization for people with disabilities in community, and the other was aimed at preparing the Christmas decorations.

I was impressed by two special services of the organization: - Mini Tours that provide integrated experiences through travel that teach planning, day-to-day life skills, discipline of time and money management. These mini vacations allow adults and self advocates an opportunity to attend popular attractions and sporting events.

- Circle of Friends is innovative mentoring program matching Special Education students with regular education peers. The Arc acts as the catalyst for the program within local schools, offering guidance and training and developing socialization opportunities.”

Milena Kacmarcikova:

viduals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in their communities. The Arc supports individuals and their families through services and education.”

“We also volunteered at the “The ARC” lunch bunch. We were serving lunch for approx. 120 disabled people who come to The ARC that is dedicated to including indi-

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I had the opportunity to talk to some young people with disabilities in their view of the future.

Kaloyan Damyanov: “On October 23, Thursday, Milena Kacmarcikova and I worked as a volunteer with young people with disabilities in the Kansas Food Bank. This Food Bank is open twice a week and those in needs can receive food. There are no restrictions, the only requirement is to have an identity card and have need. In addition to food they also have clothing sections.”

“Citizen Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities”

2nd Inbound Volunteering 2012