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On the Road: Reflections from a Field Coordinator at Ground Zero Don't Have Time?

"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." So goes the famous warning by the British statesman Edmund Burke. But my guess is that you good men and women out there may be asking, "When? Where can I find the time to do something?"

As I talk and meet with coordinators of newly forming and already existing chapters, lack of time is the biggest deterrent keeping people from getting actively involved in the pro-life movement. Indeed, most of you have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that keep you busy for more hours than you thought were possible in a week. When you have successfully negotiated through the daily grind, holding or attending yet another meeting at the end of the day may be the last thing you want to do.

That is understandable, but then again, girls in our communities are still getting pregnant and making the wrong choice. People in our hometowns are still misinformed and our elected officials may not be making decisions that extend legal protection to the most vulnerable members of our society.

So, what is that secret something that will keep evil from triumphing and fit into your schedule between car pools and soccer practices, Bible studies, and even an occasional party?

I don't pretend to know the magic recipe that'll give you enough hours in a day to do everything you have been meaning to do. But if we acknowledge the consistent concern that our grassroots and our staff share - - lack of time - - maybe we can find some remedies. I'll start by making some recommendations.

First, be realistic. Building a chapter will take time and energy, but not all of your time or all of your energy. Recruiting members and keeping people involved will not happen overnight, nor will your community recognize you without a regular presence.

So, plan on several annual activities that your members and your community will begin to count on. There's no substitute for this and no better way to both raise your visibility and improve the public's view of your organization.

For instance, work to do a fundraiser for your local chapter and/or your local crisis pregnancy center in the spring, operate a booth at the county fair and conduct a NRLC Petition drive in the summer, work with your local churches to build a pro-life presence in various denominations in the fall, and organize buses to take community members to your state March for Life in January.

This kind of schedule gives you a big, high-profile pro-life event every season. This, in turn, will keep the life issues in your community's mind's eye and also direct people to you with inquiries.

You will now be the educational and public voice for the unborn. And while that may sound like a major task now, after a year or two, planning these events will become old hat.

These types of events are successful because it is easy to delegate responsibilities. That divvies up the task, meaning less work for everyone, while making more people feel responsible for the outcome of the event. These members will also feel more loyal to the group.

Chapter chairs should ask new and enthusiastic members to help out by doing something right away. At the same time, try to avoid always relying on the same people, including yourselves, to do all the work. That will prevent the dreaded burnout.

When pro-life matters arise that call for action, such as a vote on a pro-life bill in Congress or your statehouse, people will sense the immediacy and also the legitimacy of their involvement, thanks to the legitimacy that you have established by your chapter's work.

(By the way, keep close track of the people that attend your events or stop by your fair booth. These are just the people your representatives will need to hear from when a vote comes up.)

Not everyone will get involved physically, but the real influence and size of your organization will be felt when your members flood the offices of your elected representatives, encouraging them to vote pro-life.

National Right to Life is just kicking off its Roe v. Wade = Partial-Birth Abortion campaign to educate the public on the extreme permissiveness of Roe as defined by the Supreme Court, especially the legality of the partial-birth abortion procedure. (See pages 18-19.) NRL can provide you with bulletin inserts, public service announcements, bumper stickers, and petition forms to carry out the campaign in your area.

Petition-seeking is a very useful membership development tool because it identifies people who have pro-life leanings and re-familiarizes them with partial-birth abortion and with your chapter's efforts to stop it. Gauge the level of interest each signer shows to determine who might be interested in participating in other educational activities.

Use the list to develop an "action-alert" phone tree and when an upcoming vote to ban partial-birth abortion comes up in Congress, activate the phone tree. Your representatives will know that their constituents are paying attention.

Quality, and not quantity, is a clich? that rings true at the grassroots of our movement. Be ambitious, but be ambitious about projects that will make an impact because of their success. And that success banks on the involvement of your members, so making it as time-friendly for your volunteers will pay off, as Dick Cheney says, "Big time!">EN
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Right to Life Committee, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:pro-life movement, forming chapters
Publication:National Right to Life News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
Words:897
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