By Jennifer Jones-Wood, ONE Congressional District Leader
In March 2016, Scoggins Berg, a ONE Regional Field Director for the Southeast U.S., had us sitting on the stage at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. at our annual Power Summit. He handed all the volunteers — the Congressional District Leaders — a sheet of paper. It was our catalytic action goals for 2016, a.k.a. the number of direct political actions we aimed to complete.
My heart started beating faster. He suggested that my goal be one hundred. ONE HUNDRED!?! Now, I had never doubted my effectiveness in representing ONE. Passion? Check! Drive? Check! Vision? Check! But recruiting a volunteer leadership team? Negative. Up till this point, I had only been able to recruit one volunteer and that was my daughter. How in the world was I going to get 100 catalytic actions?
First on my list of goals was to get Seacrest Church, my home church in Charleston, South Carolina, on board. I set up a meeting with my pastor. I walked in with wristbands, t-shirts, a folder of information, and the high that comes from a Power Summit. But my church was not ready to commit.
In April, I got the okay to set up a small table for Purple Thursday (in memory of Prince). I set out to get some people to write letters to Congressman Mark Sanford about the budget for nutrition. And I got 28 handwritten letters, which I hand delivered to him! I had met with Representative Sanford at the Power Summit and then had an in-district meeting with him.
Summer arrived in Charleston — heavy, hot and humid — but that didn’t stop my tiny team from hitting the Farmer’s Market, Family Fest, and finally, Pride Fest! In temperatures exceeding 97 degrees, my little team set out to accomplish the goal of 100 handwritten letters to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the ONE Vote campaign. As that 100th letter was written, we had a victory dance! We’d reached our goal!
Fall approached and although the leaves stayed green, temperatures stayed at record highs. Scoggins, the ONE Regional Field Director for my area, made another trip to the Low Country — this time for a meeting with the Missions Minister of Seacoast Church. My campus pastor, who I talked with previously, introduced Scoggins at a service! So even though my original meeting didn’t seal the deal, it did open the door.
I will never forget where I was when he called me with the news. “Hey Jennifer!” he said. “You opened a door at your church and they have agreed for ONE to be the action partner for their annual Chosen Women’s Conference!”
I knew how huge this was. The Chosen Women’s Conference is attended by a few thousand women and watched via satellite by tens of thousands more! Scoggins said they had agreed to write letters to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about the importance of nutrition for mothers and their babies.
More than a thousand women from South Carolina wrote a handwritten letter to Senator Graham during a 15-minute segment of the conference. And before we even set up an appointment to deliver the letters to Sen Graham’s office in Charleston, his Regional Director contacted my Missions Minister at Seacoast requesting an introductory meeting. Evidently, he had heard that 1,000 women had just taken action. And even better, I had many of the women come up to me wanting to learn more about getting involved.
This was my year. My journey. My challenges. And we succeeded!