Every Tuesday night at the Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale, Michigan, HRC staff, members of the Aff Action Team, and a group of committed volunteers gather to have fun, eat pizza, and make hundreds of calls to build support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). With each action drawing a room full of people, the night has been becoming increasingly popular with its unique blend of community and activism.
"I’ve always enjoyed working with the Affirmations family to bring about the kinds of changes we would all like to see in the world. They are really an incredible group," said HRC Organizer Allison VanKuiken, who worked closely with Affirmations in 2013 on the Royal Oak Non-Discrimination Ordinance. "When the Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign formed, it seemed only natural that we put together another awesome partnership to educate voters and develop leadership among our volunteers."
With each new Action Night, the evening tends to take a very specific path beginning with a radical welcome designed to build community, a brief on the campaign to educate our volunteers, a little training and role playing so that everyone feels comfortable, and then it’s off to the races as the team begins the incredible work of contacting and educating hundreds of voters.
HRC Super Volunteer Megan Cece is a regular at these action nights who, in addition to helping train volunteers, provides support and humor to make the night upbeat.
"I love working with volunteers and making this a positive experience for them," said Cece. "This is some of the most important work we can do and we want everyone to walk away with a feeling of accomplishment so when they come back, they bring friends."
"What I like most about doing these Action Nights is finding our Movement’s future leaders," said VanKuiken. "Every week we get new folks in here who have never done a phone bank, but want to get involved. From that initial interest, we are able to provide many of these folks with skills and opportunities to take on additional responsibility. The truth is the more folks we have taking on these roles, the more likely we are to be successful in making the world a more equal place."