Speak Up Project – Preparing for 2016

As part of my initial introduction to St. Mary’s Center and the Senior Advocates for Hope and Justice, I was invited to attend one of the sessions in the Speak Up Project (SUP) facilitated by the Alameda County Community Food Bank. SUP is a series of six free workshops designed to train and prepare leaders in the anti-hunger movement during the 2016 legislative year.  “Come learn with us,” Janny Castillo, Hope and Justice Coordinator, encouraged.

On Friday, October 23, Shanti Prasad from Alameda County Food Bank, discussed how a bill becomes a law, featuring Schoolhouse Rock’s, I’m Just a Bill. The room swelled with people singing to the familiar tune.

The second part of the workshop was an interactive activity that demonstrated how to navigate the state budget process. WHOA, what? We had just learned that the budget functions just like a bill, so our engagement is needed to help shape it! And that’s exactly what we did next.

Sarah Henry of Next 10,* handed us each a clicker and walked us through the California State Budget Challenge - which identified the difference between spending and revenue; she took us through important topics such as education, healthcare, and criminal justice, then asked us what our budget priorities were, and how much we were willing to spend. The group polled each question and by the end we managed to balance the budget and even celebrated a SURPLUS!

Check out the California State Budget Challenge here.

Over the course of the six workshops, the Senior Advocates for Hope and Justice will learn about current political issues and upcoming legislation, California’s legislative and budget process, how to tell their story to legislators and how to get out the vote. 2016 is a big year and St. Mary’s Center is preparing to impact real change!

Looking forward,

dani, volunteer

*Next 10 is an organization focused on innovation and the intersection between the economy, the environment, and quality of life issues for all Californians. They create tools and provide information that fosters a deeper understanding of the critical issues affecting all Californians.

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