13 September 2006

How You Can Help Serbia

Is your Congressional Representative or Senator on the Serbian Caucus?
Serbian Unity Congress
March 29, 2006

If your Senator or Representative has not joined the Congressional Serbian Caucus, your job as a Serbian American is to try to convince him or her to become one. To determine if your Senator or Representative is not on the Caucus, you can contact the SUC Washington office (202) 469-8643 and ask for assistance.
a. Send letters, faxes and be sure to follow up with phone calls to the member urging him or her to become a member by contacting Brian Fauls from Rep. Burton's office at telephone: (202) 225-2276 (email: (brian.fauls2@mail.house.gov). Ask your family, friends, and kumovi to do the same. If you need help in writing the letter, please contact the SUC Washington office (202) 469-8643, and we will provide you with one to help you draft the letter. You can call your Representative at the U.S. capital switchboard: (800) 839-5276.
b. Call your Senator and your Congressman's office and ask for a meeting. If you are meeting in your local district, you may only get to meet with an aide, this is still very valuable. Phone numbers will be in the front of your phone book, on the web at www.congress.org or you can call the U.S. capital switchboard at (800) 839-5276 or (202) 224-3121 or call the SUC Washington office (202) 469-8643 for assistance.
Face to face meetings will have the biggest impact, and it would be great is if you can take along several people who live in the same Congressional district. Community leaders – priests, parish leaders, heads of Serbian organizations, etc. -- are particularly good for these meetings, although every voter in the district is important.
c. One of you will host the meeting; this probably means you. You will open and close the conversation with the Senator, Congressman or Congressional aide, and all others in your group will have defined speaking parts that are no more than two minutes.
You can meet with a Senator, Representative or an office aide either in Washington D.C. during the 2006 Serb Day in Washington event this June or in a local office. These tips should be helpful.
1. Make a list of what you want to say to the Scheduler and have it with you when you make the call. It may sound silly, and you may never even look at it, but it will definitely boost your confidence. They will ask for the date, of course, what you would like to speak to the Senator or Representative about, and possibly who will be attending the meeting.
2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Congress Member’s office or dial the number directly if you have it. If you don’t know who your senator or representative is, visit www.congress.org to find out. All you need is your zip code. Feel free to contact the SUC Washington office at (202) 463-8643.
3. Ask to speak to the Scheduler. If he or she is unavailable leave a message with your name and phone number requesting a meeting. Most likely they will return your phone call; however, if you do not hear back from the Scheduler by the next day, call again the following day. Remember that these people are very busy, but ultimately they work for you, and it is fully within your rights to ask to see and speak to your Member of Congress. Keep making follow up calls until you speak to the Scheduler directly. This could take eight or ten calls, so don’t get discouraged. If you end up with a no, ask to meet with an aide, who is working on international issues. Each office has their own assignments so this could be anyone. Also ask for a meeting in the district when your senator or representative it there. This will require equal persistence. Ask the D.C. Scheduler whom to talk to in the local or district office. They will also have the number if you don’t.
4. Be ready to tell the Scheduler what the meeting will be about. Inform the Scheduler you will be faxing a request for the meeting with all of the pertinent information they require. You may want to ask if they would like it emailed as well.
5. Congratulations! The hard part is over, and you have the meeting secured. The more Serbs who do their part, the stronger our Voice in Washington.

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