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Video Introduction: Your America
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Your America shows us the importance of connecting to others to gain support for a cause. We want to hear what you've done to create change in your community. Tell us what you're up to, what's worked and what hasn't. Your stories may motivate others who can learn from your experiences.

Please note: Comments may be edited for space or content.

Viewer Submitted Stories:
Poster: Lee LeTeff
Comment: I am a disabled Desert Storm Veteran. I use my time to volunteer to make our country better. If everyone gave just a little effort in giving of their time we could accomplish what some people believe is impossible. I am talking about our lack of fair elections in the U.S.A. As long as private corporations are lobbying to sell our elections off to the highest bidders this will continue to be a problem. There is NOT one electronic voting system that is impervious to flipping an election. Who wins is unimportant UNLESS they do so by stealing. Diebold, Hart Intercivic, Sequoia, and ESY&S all keep their counting methods private by claiming proprietary secrecy. Our Constitution guarantees us free and open elections; not secret proprietary bacdoor stolen electronic election fraud. Get involved and demand Hand Counted Paper Ballots in plain and Public View; just like our Constitution guarantees. Please Americans wake up and take back our elections! That is how we will again make ours the greatest nation in the world. Thank you in advance for putting forward your best efforts in regaining our right as American citizens to a fair and impartial election process!!!

Poster: dolores quint
Comment: The stories above are stories about people that do things on grand scale. But what about all us grandmas? We that take our own grandchildren in because our kids can not raise them. We give them emotional and financial support with out any help from the government or their parents. We do it because we love them and we do it because they are ours. We do not want a medal. We do not want flags raised in our name.We just want our stories out there with the rest. Thanks

Poster: Daphne W. Robinson
Comment: Recently I submitted a story that was published in Cincinnat's black weekly newspaper, The CIncinnati Herald. The essence of this story described community organizers as people who usually functioned without a script... a road map. The community organizer usually has goals which vary from community to community and are dependent on the nature/purpose of the projected goal. The community organizer must pull a group or groups of people together to organize. The groups usually function without funds until they can gather enough people to support their endeavors ... to raise monies to fund their projects. This is unlike the experience gained by people who lead established groups, e.g. PTA; City Councils; Mayors; Legislatures; Governors, etc. This is not to demean the work that these groups do, nor to demean the experience that persons in these groups receive. The focus of this comment is to point out that there is plenty of experience gained from being a community organizer. Comments that have been made to ridicule Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer are made by people who really do not know what community organizers do. As I sat at an Obama campaign headquarter making telephone calls, I reflected on the monumentlal job that has been done to pull together the numbers of peopel who have pulled together to make this campaign what it is. Ilooked over the various kinds of paperwork; the detail that this campaign demonstrates, and I thought: this in itself demonctrates that this candidate knows how to pullmpeople tgether to achieve aa monumental task.

Poster: Carol Hefner
Comment: I am a volunteer who not only organizes but chairs major community fundraisers involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, great numbers of people and city/state government services. While I respect others who organize in our communities around the United States, I do not feel that qualifies one to lead the United States of America. Particularly if is yet another lawyer who has been elected to serve and cannot find the conviction to vote yes or no on a bill that affects the people of this nation. It is a reach to put someone up for this position simply because of his color, and even worse for people to vote for him just because of his color. Seems racism of a different slant and it is dangerous. I have no problem voting for a man or woman of ethnic heritage, as I am one as well, however in this very volatile era of our history, we need the candidate with extensive experience in world affairs first. If we don't secure our country, we might as well kiss every right goodbye. Stop the whining and step into the light of truth.

Poster: Rev. Dr. Margaret Jamal
Comment: My story is about a woman that many people know and many others should know about. She is known by several names: Mother Fort, Rev. fort, Miss Hazel to name a few. She was a woman who taught others the need to get involved. This remarkable woman braved the sexist arena of male dominated clergy to serve as a Pastor of a small church ordained by by a Baptist Minister. While ministering in one of the high crime districts of North Lawndale, she gained the respect of gang members and drug dealers as she would say, 'I love you even though I hate what you do.' Her hugs would always let you know that she cares. She stood against a community that opposed building the Safer Foundation Work Release center for transitioning ex-offenders. It was formerly an abandoned school that gang members had taken over to set up headquarters for illegal activities. She opened a food pantry and joined the Greater Chicago Food Depository, distributing groceries each week to the community and participating in the annual anti-hunger walk-a-thon each year. Rev. Fort was active with the Community Policing Program and the 11th beat facilitators. She was a champion for the children as well as senior citizens. She would open up her home as a safe haven to keep children away from street crime. Many of the ex-offenders expressed their gratitude for her protecting their children from following in their patterns of criminal activity. During elections, she would gather the elderly citizens up in her church bus to see that they got to the polls to vote- come rain or shine. She served as a precinct captain and ran an after school program for low income children. When homeless people in the community told her that they were unable to cook the packaged food that she was distributing, she started cooking meals for them. She even housed some of the transitioning offenders from the Safer Foundation when they had no place to be released to. She would go to court on behalf of various young people who were arrested and simply needed an alternative to becoming a statistic in the prison system. She would have them released in her care while overseeing their community service sentence. She even gave scholarships to young people in the community out of her senior citizen's retirement income. There is much more that can be said about this incredible woman. But most of all she taught her community that any of us could make a difference and that each of us should show love to others by getting involved. Her efforts helped to turn many ex-offenders into tax paying citizens who learned the importance of participating in the voting process and civic engagement. Because of her outreach, Mother Fort always had one of the highest voter participation rates of any precinct.

Poster: Joseph Gorman
Comment: I am a Community Organizer in the Camp Washington neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. I help recruit volunteers for the community council. I also direct the business association, which has 80 members. I work directly with the Camp Washington Community Board people-profit development corporation that has been on the front lines of foreclosure remediation. We have bought, renovated and sold formerly foreclosed, flipped, and abandoned homes. We are rebuilding this urban neighborhood with new residents, new businesses, industrial building re-use into apartments, and re-developing abandoned factories. I have also been the producer of our annual bluegrass and art fest, led the restoration of our Doughboy Statue and Valley Park, and coordinated the creation and installation of the Campy Washington mural in an attempt to re-brand the business district. The most powerful aspect of being a community organizer is to recruit and train new volunteers who bring their passions to better the neighborhood. I also am a songwriter and playwright, producing blueS alleY caT pop opera about Over-the-Rhine community, and, am writing King Fever, a screenplay about King Records and Little Willie John. I am married with four children. I am the president of the Finneytown Civic Association, which is the sponsor of our new Civility Project.

Poster: claire burbea
Comment: I was siiting at my workplace when I received a call from my son John saying that he was in the ER at a local hosptal in Boston and that he had just saved a neighbour's life.(6/2006) Apparently that morning John had been waiting for the above ground train to reach his station in Brookline which he took regularly to his place of work. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a senior citizen running to catch the train which was apparently entering the station at a clip.The man slipped on the tracks in the path of the oncomming train. At that point John said all he could hear was screams of the onlookers as they realized what was about to happen. John dove onto the tracks and somehow pulled the senior citizen to safety without realizing that the train had nicked his knee. He has had surgery and has endured much pain from that injury but says that it was something that he just could stand back let happen in front of his eyes He was awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal in 2007.

Poster: Linda Thomas
Comment: Thanks to all who volunteer their time as fire fighters, block watchers, and community organizers! If those of us at grassroots level were not starting the fires of change, justice, and civic duties around this country there would be no solid foundation to build democracy on! In 1989 three women walked and talked for two reasons - healthy benefits and to discuss those issues that were on the minds of most families around our neighborhoods and the country. The issues were pretty much the same as they are now - how to make education better for our children, putting a halt to lawlessness and injustices to those who are the poorest and affordable healthcare for women and children. For us it was a matter of helping to raise the level of awareness to voting at every level, supporting non-profits that had missions to address the needs of working families. So when someone asks why we volunteer our time and energy and what do we get from it? There are many answers, but the bottom line is this - the responsibility for our brothers and sisters start here - in our own back yards, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our places of worship. We know that to gain access, tear down barriers, and change minds means sacrifice and that should always start at home, at ground level. The spirit of those who give of themselves is what makes each neighborhood valuable, a community and country united, this is AMERICA! My blessings are your blessings, Linda Thomas, Founder Friends of the Community An LCON member organization

Poster: deb baker
Comment: I left my career in business and became a registered nurse after my brother died from AIDS. worked with the health departrment to do free home health for those who fall thru the cracks. I helped start a soup kitchen thru my church, and I am a Parish nurse there. We do free blood pressures and free health counseling.I volunteer with the Homeless coalition to give free health physicals to the homeless veterans and the underpriveleged. I worked with the Red Cross during the hurricanes of 2004 and Katrina. I am going back to school to learn how to start a low income health clinic for people in my community. I believe America is the greatest country in the world. My dad was a hero in WW2 and active in his church and community all my life. I watched him when I was young, so this is natural to me. I believe people helping people is the way to change our problems, not bigger government. I think we should scale back government and turn social things over to local and state to handle. God Bless America

Poster: Sharon Black
Comment: I was a community organizer for 40 years. I worked in low-income neighborhoods in Madison, WI., orgainzing residents to work with city officials and police around issues of safety and drugs. We worked to start community centers for youth and adults. To bring Social Services, public nurses, police officers, legal services and other programs into the neighborhoods. I was the supervisor of 10 community VISTA Volunteers chosen from the target neighborhoods. They developed food pantries worked with police officers to stop drug sale, assisted neighborhood people to write grants to start community centers, and assisted the homeless to find shelter. To hear the republicans make fun of community organizers shows how little they understand or care for the hard work accomplished by Community organizers nation wide

Poster: Karon R.N.
Comment: I have produced and hosted the charitable Outspoken television show in the Chicagoland area for the past 26 years focusing on safet and health :conventional, traditional, optional and alternative health treatments. It has givenpreviously unknown professional Doctors and Nurses and other experts the opportunity to be seen and heard by the public. Multiple viewers have called in for futher information and comments stating that this information was previously unknown to them and was now a postive impact on their future health and safety. Info: 815 773 4497 or email and put a message in the title about this site. Chicagoland viewers: Ch15 on Thursday nights at l0 pm and Friday nights at 9:30 p.m. Suburbs: Western Thursday nights at 7:30 pm on Ch l9 and Southwestern Suburbs Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm on Ch l9. Also on cable in Santa Monica and LA

Poster: Alyssa Wright
Comment: Last year, with the help of the MIT Media Lab and the Center for Future and Civic Media, I started a project--Hero Reports . In the wake of 9/11 we've seen the proliferation of security campaigns asking the public to look for signs of danger. Hero Reports thinks we should also look for signs of courage. Everyday moments people stand up and make a difference. The everyday heroes that also keep communities safe. Like the people who (I hope) helped in the aftermath of a car accident like Joan's. Or the person who returned my lost journal. These are the small moments that mean something. Hero Reports believes we can transform our country if we map and quantify heroism. Imagine real estate value influenced by crime rates AND hero rates. That is the change I want to see in my communities. Safety and economy not formulas from negative matrices, but also from positive ones. Inspired by the New York city campaigns. Hero Reports asks you to See Something, and Say Something Different.

Poster: Robert H. McElroy
Comment: I paint houses, wait tables and fix roofs in south Florida to pay the way for my out-of-pocket civic effort, Now in its fifth year, my website provides voters and small-market newspaper writers with non-partisan explanations of bills and resolutions considered by Congress each week, how much the legislation cost and how the Members voted. Although controversial bills and elements of them get major media attention, voters remain in the dark about the other 25 to 100 bills considered each week on Capitol Hill. With so much partisan bickering these days, citizen participation in the legislative process has become something of a spectator sport when our Founders clearly created a system allowing for, even requiring, our input. The principal goal of, then, is to give taxpayers, from all congressional districts and all States, the option of influencing their elected officials from an informed perspective on any legislation they support or oppose.

Poster: Annika Paris
Comment: Here is an example of an inspiring story by a local woman in New Orleans who saw that the government was lying about a city renovation project. Her activism led the FBI to raid the agency running the project and has ticked off Mayor Nagin. Here is a link to the story: Amid Ruined New Orleans Neighborhoods, a Gadfly Buzzes

Poster: Joan Miller
Comment: Joan Miller...Saving lives by changing laws In June 1999, my husband John and I, Oregonians, were returning to our hotel from a business conference in Ogden, Utah. We were involved in a hit-and-run crash caused by a drunk driver. The driver had just come from the non-commissioned officers club on a military base where he had been over-served. The crash left John with numerous serious injuries and I had the most serious: a permanently disabling severe traumatic brain injury. Because it was a military base versus a private bar, the server--our government--was not held legally responsible for over- serving the soldier. This is the result of a double standard in our law that allows military bases in some states to be held exempt from civil liability when serving alcohol to already intoxicated persons. A bar just outside the base, off government property, is liable for damages resulting from the identical contact. We propose to change the law at the Federal level so that ALL bars and clubs located on military bases act responsibly and be held accountable in a court of law if they continue to serve intoxicated persons. The proposed change in law will save lives and provide injured innocent third parties legal recourse. Please take a moment to visit our website where you can read more about this and help this cause by signing our online petition to lawmakers in your legislative district. Thank you and God bless you and your families. Joan Miller

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