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Monday, April 19, 2021

Plenty of Energy to Be Spent on Political Outreach

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“I’ve never seen such a positive response,” Patricia Pierson said in an email.

Mrs. Pierson is a foster care volunteer, working with a group that offers services to the public as it trains and prepares veterans and other disabled people to compete in the Paralympic Games.

It was a big day for her. The group was considering pairing her with a veteran who was new to her service. “As soon as she saw me come into the room she knew she wanted to work with me!” Mrs. Pierson said.

The woman, who is 38, is on disability and was previously struggling to get through school. “We hit it off instantly!” Mrs. Pierson said. The pair settled on a plan: the woman would take care of Ms. Pierson’s sign-in work, while she would take care of her sign-out work.

On a recent afternoon, the two women joined six other organizations in New York City that the League of Women Voters considered to receive funding for their election campaigns.

The groups said the work was difficult — the information in the online databases was hard to find, it was difficult to track down and the task was time-consuming.

The League of Women Voters budget is less than $250,000 for the coming year, so the group made decisions quickly and considered every expenditure carefully. “We are cautious about how we spend our time,” Ms. Smith said. The work is “affordable but challenging.”

Yet, with the League’s support, the groups were able to plan their events. The League’s help also made fundraising easier and gave them a public platform. “We think that citizens are getting it. We see the kind of work that they do and how they can make a difference. We’re glad to be able to connect them with the resources they need.”

Perhaps most important of all, the League gave the groups credibility. Mrs. Pierson’s group received funding for two months of direct mail materials, advertising, volunteer orientations and even paid advertising.

“Without the League stepping in and guiding us we would have all given up,” Mrs. Pierson said.

“I feel great about it,” Marwan Panoo, co-founder of Hope for the Future, said of the League’s help. The group, which relies on the efforts of two dozen volunteers, is also a volunteer-run organization. “I really had to learn a lot of new skills,” he said, including how to learn online databases.

Without funding, “we would just be working and working and working,” he said.

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