A time to express thanks to very special people
It’s been a nail-biting and now celebratory week for democracy. Thanks have been pouring in for our Checklist’s role in the election outcome and our steadfastness over the years. While this gratitude touches me deeply, in this week’s inspiring message, I want to hold up to the light and credit the beautiful women, men, and nonbinary people of the AoCC team — past and present — who’ve made it possible.
Because my face is often in the spotlight, you might not know about the 50 current volunteers and the dozens more who’ve served over the last four years. So allow me to introduce you to this amazing, diverse group of people. They hail from nearly every corner of our nation including DC and several living abroad. Their ages range from 17 to 79. They hold differing views from Green, Democrat, Independent, and a few Republicans who’ve left their party. Several of us are bi, lesbian, gay, or pansexual. Some are Jewish, others Christians with a strong social justice bent, many are deeply spiritual.
No matter how different our experiences and perspectives, all have committed to manifesting our vision of a kind and thriving nation.
The gritty work of producing the AoCC
Each and every one plays a vital role. Some are doing the hidden work of researching our nation’s shameful actions, managing to find signs of hope and actions we can all take to be part of the solution. Others strive to incorporate non-violent, anti-racist messaging in our scripts and social media posts, uplifting our shared humanity over labels.
All our volunteers bring ideas and perspective to our meetings that make the work richer and stronger, even when we disagree.
To say that I am humbled by their efforts, heart, and commitment is an understatement.
Our volunteers saved the Checklist
It’s because of each person’s contributions that this work continued at all. Sometime back in 2017, I realized I could no longer do the Checklist research and writing alone and nearly shut down because the work was so taxing and demoralizing. One blessed volunteer, also named Jennifer, was my sole companion, diligently editing into the wee hours before publishing each week.
Some divine spark guided me to ask for more help, and I was astonished when dozens of people showed up to assist in posting our checklist on social media. This first experiment was such a success that a few months later, I put out a call for researchers and then action writers.
Today, the Checklist is researched, produced, and distributed not by one person alone, but by four dozen incredible volunteers including a few compensated roles of amazing professionals.
Proof that our volunteers are amazing
It’s important to stress that our volunteers show up while working a full time job or sometimes two — or searching for a job in this unstable economy. They volunteer elsewhere, engaging in activism and other service on a local level. One of our volunteers is a medic for in-person protests. Some are raising small children or special needs kiddos while serving as a de facto teacher during the pandemic. Several are teachers, and they are so, so tired.
Some of our volunteers manage mental and physical disabilities. Even with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, they jump into the fray to assist our nation. Others have lost loved ones in the last four years and show up to assist, even in their grief. Like first responders, this team is like a firefighting crew, going toward what’s burning to assist, rather than away, amidst personal challenges.
Knowing them as I do, I’m certain most will say, “Well of course I showed up. I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and watch.” But now you know, dear reader, just what a gift their time and talent and heart are to this work.
While I am the “face” of AoCC, our work isn’t me, it’s we.
What the AoCC team has accomplished in 4 years
When we show up together, our efforts lead to big results.
- We’ve raised nearly $20,000 to fund IDs so people can vote.
- We’ve helped purchase hundreds of books for people in prison.
- We’ve supported asylum-seeking families get bail, get reunited, and get on the path to citizenship.
- We’ve advocated for the rights of our rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
- We’ve worked our tails off to ensure that all Americans can cast a ballot in every election.
- Every month, we reach well over a million people each month through email and social media.
That’s not because of me, it’s because of we. Us together.
Announcing a gift and a request
In order to honor these incredible, dedicated people, I’m digging deep to make a $1,000 donation to Spread the Vote — one of our team’s favorite organizations — so that people in Georgia have IDs to vote in the upcoming January’s runoff. (See receipt below.)
If you’re moved by the work of our volunteers, I invite you to join me in making a donation in their honor to Spread the Vote.
Please, dear AoCC volunteers — past and present — comment below so we can give you a proper shout out. And know how grateful I am to you for your commitment, smarts, humor, ideas, and the nitty-gritty effort through this challenging chapter in our nation’s story. You absolutely and unequivocally rock!
With deepest love and gratitude,
Bethany – Twitter / Instagram / volunteer cheerleader
Jen!! This is incredible!!
YOU are incredible!! 💜🙏💖
To AOCC volunteers: THANK YOU!! For making activism accessible for me. For helping me to find balance and causes to fight for and donate to. I am a thorn in my Utah State senators sides thanks to you. Thank you.
You rock!!! We’re in this together!
I volunteered with AoCC in 2017 and 2018 out of a need to do *something* while living abroad and working on my PhD. While I’m not currently on the team, I have held you all in my thoughts these last few weeks as we geared up for the election and as I’ve used your excellent and empathetic action points when contacting my Reps…. we did it, everyone, and I’m so so proud to stand alongside you all as we continue to show up and do this work! Hugs and love from England.
Hugs right back to you, Anna! I’m so glad to hear from you — and grateful that you contributed so much to our efforts. Huge hugs right back at ya!
It’s been a great challenge and honor to be part of this work. It’s also been a thrill to see how our readers have responded to our calls for activism.
Voting Team Captain
You are amazing, Anne! I am so grateful for your leadership and clear direction through a complex topic!
Thank you Jen for all your hard work!!! I so appreciate you helping me to not feel so overwhelmed and able to contribute in my own way to saving our democracy. Cheers to our win!!!!
Yes! A win for democracy!! Go, us!!
I remember when AoCC first started – even if I didn’t do each action it was truly a tangible way to do something (a coordinated something) so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed and helpless. Thank you
Naomi, thank you so much for these heartfelt words. I think I speak for all of us in saying that it’s a deep honor to support our nation and the many hearts who care.
AoCC has given me a much needed outlet to “do something” to soften my fear, channel my outrage, and express my loving concern for all the people living in this country. I’ve never taken political action before because I never liked the strongly partisan us-vs.-them flavor of it, but AoCC is different in its inclusiveness and groundedness in core values that reach across the political spectrum. I’m proud to be part of this team, and I’m staying on. There’s work to be done.
And Jen, I salute you, and I thank you. For starting this, for inviting us in, for keeping this going. You are an inspiration to us all. And your gift to STV is also an inspiration. Because it’s not just about getting voters to the polls and then ignoring them until the next election. It’s about giving them an ID which enables them to access formal employment, government services, and so much more. It’s about acknowledging the value of these people’s lives and welcoming them back in to participate in society.
Your gift is inspiring my gift. I’ll match your donation to STV, as a salute to you and my fellow AoCC volunteers… and all our AoCC readers!
OMG, Anne Christine. I am full-on ugly crying. I am so so so touched by your words and generosity. Wow. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?! Thank you so much for your ever-deepening role in this work!
Linda Hilliard, Facebook Team
It’s the whole team supporting each other that helps us thrive. I have done volunteer work my entire life and this has been the best and most fulfilling experience.
Oh, Linda. My heart is full reading your words. Thank you so much for all you give to this effort and to our neighbors as a result. HUGE hugs!
Thank you to the AOC Checklist for directly helping those who are suffering. Thank you for organizing a letter writing initiative so that one very sad man received 100’s of letters. While locked in medical segregation for many months, in an immigrant detention center, your letters kept him alive. Alone in a room with nothing, and then your stacks of beautiful letters started coming. You became his family. His closest friends.
Also, you helped the family of a man who was recently taken at a routine ice check-in. Thinking he was just going for the check-in, and leaving, he had no idea of the horrific nightmare in front of him. Taken from his family, he was placed into an ice detention center, where he quickly contracted covid. He suffered through horrendous weeks upon weeks on a ventilator in a hospital. Upon his death, you gave to his family so that they had money for rent and food. You gave them love.
For the many ways you have helped the voiceless, thank you! A million thank yous!
Susan! Oh, I’m so happy you posted! YOU are part of our team by extension — we could not have done those kind acts without your grassroots support for our nation’s most vulnerable residents. I will update the post now to add them — thank you for the reminder of all that we can do together. <3
Working with the AoCC has been an opportunity to move away from fretting and fear and toward purposeful response which is so much healthier for my spirit, mind, and body. Grateful to have had the chance to work with this wonderful group of people.
Wow. Incredible public service. Thank you for keeping me energized, inspired, and hopeful these last 4 years.
It’s an honor to be a trusted carrier pigeon. I believe the AoCC team has made it possible for many to feel their choices matter; I know it’s done that for me. It amazes me how this diverse group across time and location steps in and up together. Kudos, Jen, for the vision that brought us to the trek through the woods, the shore, the bridge, and the front porch.
I’m Sam, and I’m the Good News Editor!
I’m very grateful that my role at AoCC lets me bask in the part of all this where kindness and compassion come out on top!
Jen and the many other volunteers,
I commend and THANK YOU for the incredible and faithful work you have put into the VoCC for the past 4 years!! I have used your weekly notifications for ways I can be involved and it moved me to know that I, too, was able to make a difference in whatever “small” way and to pass some of your ideas on to others.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU for helping to make this election turn out for the best, for the promise of keeping our democracy safe and to instill hope in what is possible the next 4 years. Know that I will do what I can to support the Dems in the upcoming GA election.
I’m Rachel, and I’m on the Facebook team – what a lovely surprise Jen, and yet I’m not surprised at all 🙂 AoCC has been the starting point for my activism the last four years around political engagement and it’s encourage me to encourage my friends and family to make calls, write letters, and have conversations we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m grateful beyond words for the connections and inspiration I get from this amazing group of volunteers every day. Thank you for leading us, and encouraging us to step up when we can, rest when we need to, and believe in our power to come together to build the kinder, more thriving nation we all want to be a part of.
Thank you, Jen, and the AoCC team for channeling my energy into change these last four years! The team’s (Jen’s) focus, integrity, and energy has transformed me from someone shouting opinions from my soapbox into a vehicle for creating equality and preserving democracy. I am forever grateful.
Thanks to all of you for your ongoing civic engagement. You inspire me, motivate and fill my heart with hope.
I’m Julia, and I’m currently the Immigration action writer (though I started as an action tweeter). I’ve been so proud to work with this incredible team, and I look forward to continuing this important work with our community of conscience!
Thank you to everyone for your hard work. When we work together, we can do great things! <3
Volunteering with the AoCC team has helped me to channel my fear and anger into positive action, and it has been so encouraging to see others take on the fruits of our work and push these actions forward.
Elizabeth, Equality team volunteer
Thank you Jen for giving us this opportunity and giving us a place to make a difference. I am grateful to be part of this team.
Thank you! I made a donation to Spread the Vote in honor of all AoCC volunteers.
Words cannot adequately express the depth of my gratitude to you, Jen, and the entire AoCC team! Since its inception, the AoCC has been both my beacon and my lodestone; you teach, by example not only how to walk the talk of speaking truth to power, but also how to remember that in the midst of chaos, it is our shared humanity that connects and heals us. Whether I am performing checklist actions, participating in retreats, or sharing the AoCC work with countless others, I am inspired daily by the indefatigable AoCC team! BRAVA, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I am an HSP (highly sensitive person) who is also dealing with complex PTSD. More weeks than not over these past four years, I have not been able to leave my home. Your checklist and your positive, encouraging work has been one thing that has helped me to regularly make a small difference in the world. I can’t thank all of you enough.
Thank you everyone for your hard work and participation!