Highlights from the S2F Campaign
Last week, 32 Representatives and 20 Senators sent letters to Congressional leaders echoing our calls for dedicated funds in this year’s budget to help end LRA violence. This occasion marked an end of an intense flurry of effort over the past two months as part of our S2F campaign.
Now, with many of our elected representatives having weighed in, our team’s attention will turn to the handful of Members of Congress who actually write the foreign aid budget. We will carry your voices to them to ensure the momentum we generated together on this campaign helps us reach our goal of making the President’s LRA strategy a concrete reality that helps end LRA atrocities.
While this effort was a real uphill battle (in case you don’t read the news, the budget environment in DC is pretty toxic right now), hearing stories from committed supporters is what kept us going. Hundreds of people joined lobby meetings and made phone calls, and close to 8,000 people signed our petition.
Countless inspiring stories came out of this campaign. And it goes without saying that many peoples’ lobbying efforts were not dramatically successful. But in the long-run, our commitment and persistence gradually pays off with concrete progress toward ending the LRA’s atrocities and helping those who are affected.
That said, thanks to my teammate Lisa for compiling a few highlights, and for each of you that made this happen:
- Sara Hutton and seven other students from Pace University in White Plains, NY, met in person with one of our top priority targets, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). They did a fantastic job explaining the LRA crisis and the need the secure funding to implement the LRA strategy. After the meeting, Resolve staff heard directly from the Congresswoman’s staff people, who wanted to discuss further how they could help.
- Ella Paul from Denver, CO, and some of her classmates held a meeting with a staffer at the office of Senator Bennet(D-CO). The staffer was so impressed by their group that he spoke high praises of the students to Senator Bennet. The Senator then contacted Ella’s school, expressing a desire to meet personally with the students who participated in the S2F lobby meeting because he had heard how passionate they were about ending the LRA crisis. Senator Bennet also went on to sign the Senate letter asking for funding to be secured for the implementation of the LRA strategy — which is exactly what Ella and her friends had asked for.
- Abby Freeman from Los Angeles, Sophie Glander and her mother, psychology teacher Kathy Mack, and a group of Mrs. Mack’s students from St. Bonaventure HS in Ventura, CA persistently pursued a local lobby meeting with Senator Diane Feinstein’s Los Angeles office. Their efforts to simply schedule a lobby meeting caught the attention of the Senator’s office. Senator Feinstein then signed onto the Senate letter just before the constituent meeting occurred. Abby, Mrs. Mack, and the St. Bonaventure students arrived at the Senator’s office in time to receive the great news that she had signed on. Their tenacity paid off even before they actually had their meeting!
- Daniel Szymczk from Boone, NC, and his fellow Invisible Children club members had never participated in a local lobby meeting before. However, after writing letters to their members of Congress as part of Invisible Children’s 25 event, the group decided that they wanted to go the extra mile and set up an in-person meeting with their Representative. The group spoke with Rep. Virginia Foxx herself and they did an exceptional job. The Congresswoman’s response was incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of the group’s concerns — so supportive in fact that we are hoping she might be a new champion on this issue in the House of Representatives. Daniel and his friends left their meeting excited about advocacy and with a new understanding of how powerful their voices are.
- Anna Gazmarian led a meeting with a staffer from North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s office. During the meeting, Anna left the meeting feeling unsure as to whether or not she made an impact, but just a few days later, Anna received a personal phone call from Senator Burr himself, saying that he heard about her meeting and was very interested in hearing why ending LRA violence was so important to her. He asked if Anna and her group would be interested in schedule an in-person meeting with him in the coming weeks.
And finally, one more:
- Resolve’s tireless fellows Liz Gould and Jenny Mack– who each organized dozens of lobby meetings across the country for this campaign — had an unforgettable opportunity at the end of the campaign. They were asked to carry the final copy of the letter to each of the House offices that committed to sign it, gaining signatures from 32 Representatives to create the final copy that was sent to the Members of Congress who write the foreign aid budget.
We can’t say thank you enough for everyone who made this happen.