Iowa Advocacy Connection - Issue 4

Issue 4, 12/11/2013

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Spencer Aktion Club

Spencer Aktion Club

“I matter to my community because my community matters to me.” This is the Spencer Aktion Club’s motto and defines what is important to the members of the club. The Aktion Club, which formed in 2004, is a civic organization, with a mission to provide members with an opportunity to serve the community and develop important skills such as leadership and teamwork.

The Aktion Club meets on a monthly basis to discuss the projects they are working on, vote on new projects and take part in programs organized by members that focus on developing new skills. Over the last several years, the Aktion Club has raised money for community organizations, volunteered at community events and organized fundraising projects to help create a more accessible community.

The club recently received the Distinguished Club Award for their service to the community. In 2013, The Aktion Club along with help of other Kiwanis clubs in Spencer raised over $1,100 through selling peanuts. The members voted to give the money to the Local Upper Des Moines food pantry, the Reading is Fun project, the Spencer Public Library, Spencer Fire Department and the Eliminate Project ( to wipe out maternal and neonatal tetanus around the world). Jessica Elg, the current President of the Aktion Club, said that she is involved with the club because it feels good to give back to the community and makes her feel included in her community.

Members of the club have much to be proud of, and have become an important part of the Spencer community. Loren Jones, former Vice President of the club, said that he is most proud of “growing as a group.” Members have worked together and succeeded in accomplishing their goals through hard work and dedication to the mission of the organization.

Shelia Kassmeier, a former president of the club said that she is most proud of the clubs involvement in Relay for Life, the adoption of a family at Christmas and the dock project at Stolly’s park. The club raised money to build an accessible dock at the park and worked with the local ADA council to plan a dedication ceremony.

Next year, the Aktion club intends to raise additional money for the Eliminate Project, increase their membership and enter individual members into the Kiwanis International speech, poster and scrapbooking contests.

To hear three Spencer Aktion club members talk about their involvement in the organization and why it is important click here.

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Building Your Advocacy Toolkit

The 2014 Legislative Session is quickly approaching and now is the time to prepare as an advocate. Building a personal Advocacy Toolkit will help you to have the information and resources you need to be successful. We recommend you include the following in your toolkit:

1. Goals – Write down what your advocacy and outreach goals are. These can include anything from making a commitment to call or write your legislator, visit the Capitol, attend a forum or join a local advocacy group.

2. Information & Resources - Take the time now to learn more about what issues will be addressed in the next session. Talk with your friends, family, support systems or advocacy groups about issues that are important to you. Ask for assistance to find resources that will provide you with more information on those issues. Visit the infoNET website at and get information about what will be happening in the next session or look up bills from last session and find out their status.

3. Your Personal Story - Your personal story is the most powerful tool that you have to advocate on important issues that impact your life. In order to represent you effectively, legislators need real examples of how the decisions they make affect their constituents. They want and need to know your story. Here are a few tips:
• Write Out Your Story – This will help you to include all of the important information you want to share.
• Practice and Prepare - Practice talking to your legislator - it really does help. Think about what you want to say before you meet, write or call them. Check out the message worksheet on the ID Action website to help you prepare.

4. Your Legislators Contact Information – You can find out who your legislators are by going to the ID Action website and click “Find My Legislator.” Keep their contact information handy so you can reach them quickly if needed. If you need help finding your legislator call us at 866-432-2846 or email us at

Preparing your toolkit now will give you a head start as we approach the new year. Please contact ID Action with any questions about how you can become more involved as an advocate.

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Take Your Legislator to Work

During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, ID Action held our first Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to provide an opportunity for Iowans to talk with their legislators about the impact that working has in their life.

Kyle Stumpf, Dubuque, took his legislator, Iowa State Senator Pam Jochum, to work. Kyle said that he participated because he wanted to show his legislator that he can learn the skills to be successful in employment. Kyle has his sights set on the future and is setting goals. He plans to continue to work and hopes to be gainfully employed and earn minimum wage or better, live on his own someday and continue to be less dependent on government assistance.

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Local Capitol Day Grants

Each year, ID Action offers opportunities for Iowans to visit the Capitol and talk with their legislators. In 2013, ID Action held Advocating for Change Day and over 600 Iowans met at the Capitol to attend an advocacy training and talk with their legislators. This event will take place again in 2015. In 2014, ID Action will offer grant funds, advocacy trainings and support to local advocacy groups who are interested in meeting with their legislators at the Capitol and advocating on behalf of disability related issues. ID Action will have eight (8) Local Capitol Day grants available to help offset the costs of groups traveling to Des Moines. Grant recipients can receive up to $500 as a reimbursement for actual expenses, including transportation or accommodations for participation. Find more information about this grant opportunity at or call us at 866-432-2846.

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Community Involvement

We have heard from many Iowans that being involved in their community is an important part of their life. It makes them feel as though they are a part of the place they live and connected to those around them.

ID Action wants to hear what you are doing to be an active part of your community. Share with us how you are involved and what the impact has been in your life. You can email us at or call us at 866-432-2846. Your story could be featured on an ID Action website or selected for a new series of videos about community involvement.

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12 Steps to Successful Advocacy

In each editions of the Iowa Advocacy Connection we share with you the 12 steps to Successful Advocacy. We are now on steps 5 & 6. A full list of these steps can be found at

Step 5: Build Support for Your Cause
• Use the media - call in to radio shows, write letters to the editor.
• There is strength in numbers – work as a group.
• Consider rallies and other public events to get out your message.

Step 6: Determine Who Can Help You
• City Council/Mayor/County officials
• Businesses/Civic Organizations
• Churches/Support Groups
• Legislators
• Lobbyists
• Media/News Editors
• Friends/Family/Neighbors

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Advocacy through Social Media

Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube provide a great opportunity to stay informed and connected and allow you to share information. Here are few ways you can use social media:

• “Like” or “Follow” organizations or people such as the National Organization on Disability or ID Action that care about issues that are important to you. Following elected officials will give you a better understanding of their view on issues and allow you to respond.

• Share pages, pictures, videos and information with your network. This is how information spreads quickly through social media. If you find something interesting or helpful share it with your friends.

• Update your status – Share your thoughts on issues important to you. Follow the same rules that you would if you were speaking in front of a large group – Be respectful, be polite and do not post anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying in person. You can’t take back what you post on the internet.

If you have questions about using social media for advocacy, contact us at 866-432-2846 and we would be happy to help you get started.

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