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Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) District Visits are meetings set up by Catholic social ministry leaders with U.S. Senators and Representatives, or their staffs, in their district offices during congressional recesses, and following our main gathering in Washington, D.C.
These visits amplify our national message for maximum effectiveness and provide a way for Catholic social ministry leaders, in coordination with CSMG state captains, to connect our national efforts with the voices of local partner organizations, parishioners, and dedicated volunteers in support of our CSMG 2013 legislative priorities.
District Visits are another way of establishing an ongoing relationship with your members of Congress that can help to advance the effect of your advocacy throughout the year.
Find out if a CSMG district visit is already being organized in your diocese by contacting Rachael Holmes of Catholic Relief Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-608-5978. If no district visit is yet scheduled then you may be invited to begin coordinating with your CSMG State Captain, or possibly even to serve as the CSMG District Visit Captain in your area.
Whether you've agreed to serve as a District Visit Captain or want to be part of a team, make sure that you know who else in your diocese has agreed to participate in CSMG District Visits. Rachael Holmes of Catholic Relief Services will be able to share that information with you. Her e-mail address is email@example.com or call 1-866-608-5978.
Get in touch with your team members to discuss plans for your district visits, brainstorm ideas and decide on what type of district visit you would like to pursue. Identify dates and times that would work for all or most of your district visit team members.
Arranging to meet your members of Congress at a Catholic social service center or the offices of an appropriate local community group can be an excellent way to showcase the work that your diocese is doing in the area of social ministry. Consider inviting your members of Congress to visit a CCHD-funded anti-poverty group, a diocesan-supported homeless shelter, soup kitchen, refugee resettlement program or immigration and anti-human trafficking program. These "site visits" can bring to life the issues for which CSMG District Visit participants are advocating and highlight how members of Congress can make a concrete difference in the lives of poor and vulnerable people in our communities.
If a site visit is not possible, meeting with your members of Congress or their district directors in a district office closest to you is another great option. Visit this USCCB Capwiz Action Center and enter your zip code to find your Senators and your Representative. Click on the "Info" link under your members' photos and then click on the "Contact" tab at the top of the page. A list of your members' district offices will appear there.
If you're still unsure of who your member is or how to find their district office, please contact Rachael Holmes of Catholic Relief Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-608-5978.
Before arranging to meet your members of Congress at a social service center or the offices of a community group, make sure you are aware of any policies the agency, group, or service provider might have in place for "site visits".Then meet in advance with the affected staff, partners and beneficiaries to discuss what the site visit should accomplish. Share with them the CSMG 2013 advocacy messages you will be delivering. Create an agenda for the visit to ensure that the member will see the care and work of our Catholic community in action.
Arrange your District Visit when your member of Congress is home in his or her district. Members of Congress are usually in their home districts Friday through Monday as well as during congressional recesses such as the week immediately following CSMG. Check the House of Representatives and Senate schedules for details on congressional recesses.
Contact the district scheduler for your member of Congress several weeks in advance of the proposed visit. Explain that you are a participant in the efforts of the 2013 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, why you're seeking a visit with the member of Congress, and what the CSMG 2013 advocacy issues are. Include specific information such as proposed date, time, location, others who may be invited (including media if you are seeking a site visit), and what activities are planned for the visit. Be prepared to be as flexible as possible with your schedule to accommodate the member. Once a visit is scheduled, please communicate the details to Rachael Holmes of Catholic Relief Services at email@example.com or 1-866-608-5978.
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