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Left In Lowell » Volunteering

Left In Lowell

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September 23, 2012

Lowell Is a Battlefield

by at 9:47 am.

Via Marie Sweeney on facebook, a fascinating nod to the Mill City by the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson. Calling it “ground zero” in the Senate race, Johnson named the dueling endorsements of both Elizabeth Warren (Mayor Murphy, Arthur Ramalho) and Brown (Rita Mercier) and the failed endorsement of Micky Ward, who in a day rescinded his support of Brown after he found out his record on unions and gay rights.

I was cracking up at Johnson’s characterization of Mercier: “a pugnacious and ticket-topping politician.” Pugnacious: “inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.” Indeed!


It is as if the US Senate race will be decided by who is more popular at the Owl Diner, or who can tell the best story about Tarsy Poulios’s time on the City Council.

Awesome. All politics are local.

And it is true that while generally, Lowell has gone blue in past races (presidential and gubernatorial) it flipped during the special election to replace Ted Kennedy. Though I would argue the weather and timing and lack of a Democratic campaign had a lot to do with that.

(NECN also had a segment about Lowell and the Senate race on Sept 14th, though they did not, surprisingly, include any interviews with Mayor Murphy).

So if you are sitting there thinking, what can I do for Elizabeth Warren, really, well…show up for a phone bank or canvass. I went yesterday morning, where Mayor Murphy stopped by to kick off the day’s canvassing. The campaign is us - you and me. Yesterday I walked the streets in Ward 1 combing for more Warren voters. I talked to the campaign staff at HQ and they are enthusiastic and optimistic, but without volunteers they can’t do their job. Yes there’s lots of people showing up…so why aren’t YOU?

Tell you what. There’s about six weeks left to the campaign. Commit to spending a few hours some weeknight or weekend between now and then. It’s fun and you’ll meet new people, and we can beat Scott Brown by double digits in Lowell if we get enough voter IDs!

The Democratic coordinated campaign HQ is at 73 E. Merrimack St. Lowell, and the canvassing schedule on weekends generally goes: first wave at 10am, and another at 2pm. Someone is at the office from 9am to 9pm daily, though, so you can just show up and let them put you to work! There’s also phone banking, data entry, and other jobs to do, so if you can’t knock doors for any reason, don’t let that stop you. Crucially, if you can take Election Day off to help, or help the weekend or even the week before, that’s very important.

Looking forward to running into more LiL’ers at the Dem HQ! :)

Update: Just got word the official Lowell office email is lowelloffice@elizabethwarren.com. Contact them if you want to schedule your time at HQ!

Update II: Even better, I am told, is to go here, and sign up for a specific shift you want to do as they are listed on the official website. You will be able to hook into the campaign directly. If you are new to volunteering, they’ll contact you. I’ve already put in the search terms for you so you should see only Lowell events at that zip.

September 19, 2012

It’s Not Magic

by at 8:07 pm.

Warren surges in four separate polls this week; suddenly the tables have turned in a race that everyone said was Brown’s to lose. This isn’t just a simple convention bounce; we’re two weeks past…and general analysis of the internals of the polls are showing that the surge is Democrats “coming home” to Warren. A good part of that, I’m sure, is her performance at the convention. But there is a much more prosaic, basic, and boring explanation as well.

David Bernstein takes a look at campaign expenditures (bold mine).

Brown’s spending is all message, no organization. Of the $3.8 million he spent, $2.8 million went straight to “placed media” — ad buys. Another $360,000 went to direct mail. That only leaves about $600,000 for everything else.

By contrast, Warren spent $2.3 million on ad buys and a whopping $1.1 million on direct mail — which still leaves about $1.5 million on the rest.

A big chunk of that, roughly a quarter-million dollars, went to Warren’s Internet consultants.

But the big difference is payroll. The Warren campaign has a stunning 77 people on the payroll, compared to 20 on the slim Brown campaign.

Democrats in the state are going back to a very old fashioned campaigning idea. Ever since the rise of Deval Patrick, and John Walsh, there has been a resurgence of door-knocking, neighbor to neighbor, on-the-ground retail politics. Of course, that sort of thing has been happening all along, as many longtime stalwart Democratic apparatchiks could tell you, but it’s the intensity and the energy that has changed. (Technology like databases and internet and Google maps haven’t hurt, either.)

Having done some canvassing and phone banking in the last six years, I can honestly tell you that even in the late hours of the 2006 Patrick campaign, I have never seen the level of participation from volunteers as I have in the last several months of the Warren campaign. Back in the spring, there were so many volunteers showing up, that they got frustrated that the campaign wasn’t moving more quickly or hiring enough organizers to put them to work. Fast forward to September, and those 77 people on the payroll are, well, paying off.

When an enthused and excited Democrat comes to another Democrat’s doorstep and talks about Elizabeth Warren and what she stands for, you can be sure that that Democrat will reconsider any ticket-splitting they might have done in November. Democratic-leaning unenrolleds will, too. The first half of voter ID is all about figuring out who your supporters are, but it also has a side effect of convincing some voters who are undecided or thinking of voting for the opponent, due to the one-on-one conversations at front doorsteps, the personal notes left behind on literature when someone is not home, and the sheer visibility of the campaign. The more people you have out there doing the talking, the more converts you’re likely to make.

The hand-wringing is already beginning on the other side. You’ll see them try to blame “DC Democrats” imposing their will and their support and their money in this race…or the media turning against them…or just being red specks in a blue sea. They don’t see it coming, because they just. Don’t. Get it.

The thing about retail politics, though, is that you have to have a message that resonates with people where they live. In the marketplace of ideas, I don’t think you could sell people on tea-party extremism, or sell a candidate who will double down on the Blunt amendment and vote against jobs bills and water down Wall St reform but who claims to be a moderate independent.

You also need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies. Hiring people on payroll is a huge head start, but then you need a horde of volunteers under them willing to give up a Saturday afternoon or a Thursday night and walk a neighborhood. You can’t drum up enthusiasm unless you have a great candidate.

It’s not magic. It’s hard work and steady, unremarkable, persistent grunt work. Work that is ongoing and still needs doing right up until the end. The Warren campaign, by dint of where they spend their time, money, and energy, obviously gets that. It’s why they will be successful once the votes are cast in November.

(And in case you don’t get the hint, Warren peeps, please please please offer an afternoon or two yourselves if you haven’t already. Or even if you have!)

April 25, 2012

Community Abounding

by at 10:47 am.

My Memere and Pepere

Hallo folks, sorry I’ve been absentia lately. It’s been a chaotic month or more, with the loss of my beloved Memere (aged 93), immediately followed by a very rough eight days where the new doggie we adopted ran away on her first day with us (wiggled right out of her harness, I will never forget the sight). We got her back a little over a week ago, thank goodness. For those on Facebook who followed the story, thank you all so much for your support and spreading the word - every little thing really helped. I almost posted the info on the blog…I went back and forth about whether to or not…but all ended very well.

Here’s a picture from the night we got her back, with her new big brother, our other dog Hector. Pauke (pronounced pow-ka with a German accent, it means “tympani,” singular) is a little 2-year-old, 10-lb (well, not any more, but we’ll get her back up to weight soon) miniature pinscher rescue from this hoarding situation out of Springfield. She is a sweet little girl, a bit shy and timid, but since her adventure on the streets of south Lowell, she has really bonded to us and I doubt very much we’ll have to worry about her running away ever again. I think she figured out that a roof over her head, adorable warm little clothes (she gets cold easily), two square meals a day and lots of scritches are better than scrounging food and water and shelter off the streets!

(PS if you think our little Pauke is adorable, there is another little min pin looking for a home via the same rescue group, All Dogs Rescue, called Lemon, she’s 5 lbs and very sweet, too.)

All right, off the subject of personal stuff, and on to the reason for this post…there are a couple of really cool things I saw that are happening in Lowell, community-wise, that I thought I would share.

First, there’s this really neat “Mill City Skill Share” event happening on Sunday, May 6th. I may not be able to participate this time around, but I’m hoping to see this take off and become a regular thing (so YOU should go participate!). The premise is so simple I’m not sure how it hasn’t already happened before! People with skills, from knitting, to making sushi (YUM!), to American Sign Language, to documentary film making are signed up to volunteer to teach members of the community. Members of the community sign up to learn! It’s that easy!

It’s happening all around downtown Lowell, at the Mogan Cultural Center as well as Lucy Larcom Park, St. Anne’s, and other locations.

I haven’t had the chance to meet the person/persons behind it but all I can say is, wicked good job and thanks for bringing it to Lowell!

The second thing I just sighted (Facebook is great for this stuff) is Saturday, May 12th -Lowell Give Back Day. Another great community idea. You can help with park and street cleanup, city gardening, cleaning canals, get your bike tuned up and go to the Community Gardens Greenhouse Plant Sale. I am hoping I can make it to one or more of the events listed here, so you might see me around!

Take the time to engage in your community, share a skill, participate in activities, or help clean up a park! Getting connected to your community has never been so easy. Just show up, bring a pair of gardening gloves, and pitch in! It’s very rewarding, especially when you look back at the area you just cleaned and think how much better it looks now that you’ve been there.

April 12, 2012

Elizabeth Warren in Lowell This Sunday

by at 11:21 am.

I thought I would share this quick heads up that came via email:

Elizabeth Warren will be in Lowell this Sunday to celebrate Khmer New Year. She will be meeting at Pailin Plaza on Middlesex Ave at 2pm and then head to Pailin Park.



August 31, 2010

UTEC Recognized for Violence Prevention

by at 12:21 pm.

If you want to point out a major factor in reducing gang presence more than a decade ago in Lowell, you have only to point to the teens themselves, and the United Teen Equality Center. And now their “Streetworker” program is getting national recognition because of a study being published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

From UTEC’s press release:

The study’s interviews with UTEC staff and local community groups found five major contributing factors to UTEC’s success in the SW program: involvement of youth in hiring SWs; investment in quality training for the SWs; providing SWs with a comprehensive benefits package and team retreats to prevent staff turnover and burnout; establishment of community partnerships; and incorporation of peacemaking into outreach.

“These features should be considered both by communities with existing street outreach worker programs and by communities in the process of establishing one, as they have demonstrated importance for both program success and sustainability,” said Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and the paper’s lead author.

Congrats to an excellent community group on the getting the recognition it deserves. We know it works; now the rest of the nation’s cities can learn from UTEC.

November 15, 2009

Do you want to get involved?

by at 10:29 am.

In Lowell civic life, that is. If the answer is yes, here is your chance. The City is seeking volunteers for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The committee is responsible for reviewing grant applications and recommending funding allocations to the City Manager for the HUD programs, CDBG (Community Development Black Gran), HOME, and ESG (Emergency Shelter Grant). The City is also seeking volunteers for another Citizens Advisory Committee. This one reviews grant applications and recommends funding allocations to the City Manager for the HOPWA Program.

The HUD program grants are “distributed annually through a competitive proposal process. CAC members review written grant applications, hear testimony from applicants at a public hearing, and meet during the winter months to formulate a recommended plan for awarding grants.”

And the HOPWA grant program is “designated to serve persons throughout Middlesex County who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families. Funds are distributed annually through a competitive proposal process to non-profits countywide whose programs serve this population. “

The CDBG/HOME/ESG CAC not only reviews the applications but listens to each applicant make a public presentation. In the past, I have attended a few of these marathon sessions and the CAC and the DPD should be commended for their efforts. Most of the non-profit organizations in this City present a proposal and because these past few years, funding has been cut back or eliminated in some cases, I would think next year’s process will be extremely competitive.

Here is the link to the current roster of the two CACs. I see that there will be at least one available position. City Council-elect Frankie Descoteaux will have to resign from the CAC since it is the City Council that has the final approval of the disbursement of these funds.

January 16, 2009

National Day of Service - Local Volunteering

by at 11:56 am.

Obama and his incoming administration are renewing interest in the National Day of Service, which is a “federally designated day of service” which this year falls on MLK day. With his encouragement, many of his campaign’s dedicated volunteers are turning to volunteerism, and the Inaugural Committee has a website dedicated to listing volunteer opportunities in your area. (Unfortunately, something is wrong with the Google map on the page, but if you get the error message, just click OK and then scroll down for the text list.)

Please seriously consider joining in one of these efforts. Some interesting events listed in our area include:

Martin Luther King Day Head Start Program Enhancement Project (Day of Service - January 19)
The CTI Senior Corps and Volunteer Programs would like to recruit over 50 intergenerational volunteers (school-age, young adults, and older adults) to update the Houlares Center, a Head Start program serving over 300 children under the age of 5. The project at the center would include cleaning and repairs, building a gross-motor skills indoor activity room, creating an inviting age-appropriate reading room, and having volunteers continue on the be “community readers” to children in the new reading room throughout the year.
Time: Monday, January 19 10:00 AM
Host: Connie Martin
Location: Houlares Early Childhood Center (Lowell, MA)
126 Phoenix Ave.
Lowell, MA 01852

Prepare Survival Kits for Lowell Transitional Center (Day of Service - January 19)
Join us early in the morning to prepare breakfast with members of the Lowell Transitional Living Center, Inc, which provides a safe, temporary shelter for 90 homeless men and women, ages 18 and older. Then, return to the United Teem Equality Center to prepare survival kits for these residents. Feel rewarded by returning to the Center to had out the kits.
Time: Monday, January 19 5:30 AM
Host: Masada Jones
Location: United Teen Equality Center (Lowell, MA)
34 Hurd Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Volunteer at Lowell Transitional Living Center (Day of Service - January 19)
From 5:15-7:15 PM we will serve dinner at at the Lowell Transitional Living Center in Lowell, MA. LTLC is a community supported, non-profit organization that provides a safe, temporary shelter for 90 homeless men and women, ages 18 and older, in the Greater Lowell area.

We need people to make salad, cornbread, desserts, and to bring milk to drop at the center for the dinner. We can let you know if there is a need for more volunteers to serve food. Capacity for volunteer servers is 8-10 people and currently slots are taken. Capacity for making food to drop at the shelter is currently listed as 25 and we could use your help.

Please write what you would like to bring and drop off. I will get back to you about quantities. If you want to be put on a list for serving, let me know and I can contact you if there is an opening.
Thanks very much!
Time: Monday, January 19 from 5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
Host: Susanne curry
Location: Lowell Transitional Living Center (Lowell, MA)
189 Middlesex Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Citizen’s Sort it Out Day (Day of Service - January 19)
9-12pm Monday: Our furniture, home and baby goods bank has piles of clothing for all ages, bedding, home goods and more and it all needs to be sorted, grouped and shelved to go out to clients in need. We will train, ages 9 and up. We have a large warehouse and can handle large groups up to 150 volunteers that day. Help our local moms and kids get warm coats, school clothes, pots to cook in and more. The jobs are fun and all the goods sorted will go out in the following week. We provide $1million in goods to 27,000 clients a year. We welcome volunteers all year long www.TheWishProject.org

Time: Monday, January 19 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Host: Donna Hunnewell
Contact Phone: 978-441-9474
Location: Wish Project Warehouse (Lowell, MA)
1 A Foundry St.
Lowell, MA 01852

Martin Luther King Jr. Day HeadStart Enhancement Project (Day of Service - January 19)
Community Teamwork Inc. YouthBuild program of Lowell will be volunteering along with CTI’s Spindle Corps. volunteer students and CTI’s Senior volunteers to rehab an unused storage space at the agency’s HeadStart program.

The new space will be used as a reading room for HeadStart students. YouthBuild students will build new bookshelves, refurbish doors, storage space, install new carpet, and assist in design and painting of a wall mural.
Time: Monday, January 19 9:00 AM
Host: Kelli Fish
Location: Houlares Center, Headstart (Lowell, MA)
Lowell, MA 01854

Help with Disaster Prevention (Weekend Events - January 17 or 18)
In 2008, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay implemented a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project in partnership with HOPE worldwide, an international charity that provides sustainable, high-impact, community-based services to the poor and needy. Volunteers from HOPE worldwide and ARCMB teamed up to conduct door-to-door outreach to promote fire prevention and fire safety in high-risk communities.

Last year, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay’s Disaster Services team responded to nearly 500 separate incidents, mostly single-family house fires. In responding to these incidents, we provided emergency assistance to almost 3,200 residents in the form of food, clothing, shelter, case management, and referral services. Yet, effective disaster response is only one component in ensuring the safety of the communities we serve. We must also educate the public to prevent and prepare for disasters such as house fires, particularly in the communities that experience the highest number of incidents year after year.

On January 17, 2009, the Red Cross will partner with HOPE worldwide to conduct outreach to high-incident communities in Lowell, in eastern Massachusetts to inform them about fire prevention and safety. Volunteers will go from door-to-door speaking with residents about fire safety and distributing door hangers that provide important fire preparedness and prevention information. During an orientation, volunteers will be provided with talking points to help them engage community residents in brief conversations regarding fire preparedness and prevention.
Time: Saturday, January 17 from 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Host: Megan Dickman
Location: Butler Middle School (Lowell, MA)
1140 Gorham St.
Lowell, MA 01852

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