“Favorite Way to Volunteer”

The following is a continuation in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

While she was reading through the daily newspaper, Anne Maiese came across an article about the League’s work on an important local issue. Intrigued by the piece she decided to call for more information and learn how to become involved. After attending her first meeting, Anne says:

“…I realized the League was my kind of organization—smart, informed people who were concerned about what happened in their communities, no matter how small or large one defined that term.”

Joining the League of Women Voters of New Jersey (LWVNJ) gave Anne the chance to become more involved in the community and contribute her valuable opinions within a nonpartisan environment. She was impressed by the respect people have for the League as a nonpartisan organization, and the good work it’s done over the years educating people about voting and important issues. Anne says it has provided her with interesting activities, intellectual stimulation, and many good friends. How could anyone resist becoming a part of such an inspiring and powerful organization? Anne believes others should get involved with the League because:

“It’s a great way to participate in your community—improving it for the long term by becoming informed and encouraging others to become informed and involved too. And you can have a much greater impact being part of a group than by acting alone.”

Anne’s work with the League of Women Voters significantly impacted her community. Camden County has an Open Space Fund partly because the League of Women Voters promoted it, and over 500 high school girls in the last decade have been inspired by the “Running & Winning” Workshop to be more involved in politics. These are among the many wonderful outcomes of the League’s work which makes it an extremely important asset to the community. Anne says:

“Its process of studying the issues before it takes a stand on them makes it unique among other ‘political’ organizations.  It helps people register to vote, holds candidate forums and provides information about candidates and ballot questions with no agenda of wanting them to vote a particular way.”

The League supplies communities with multiple resources to become wholly involved in government. Many of these resources are greatly helpful for voters to become fully informed and educated about what exactly they will be voting for in hopes of creating a society that reflects the wants and needs of the people. When asked about the importance of voting and actively participating in government, Anne says:

“I’ve never experienced not having the vote or the opportunity to participate, but I know how hard-won those rights are and don’t ever want to take them for granted. Besides, I ALWAYS have some kind of opinion on issues, and I want to express them!”

Everyone deserves to have their opinion represented and thankfully, the League makes this easier by providing resources to make the publics’ voices heard. Anne believes New Jersey would look much different without these helpful services, which include impartial moderators for candidate forums, a voter hotline 1-800-792-VOTE (8683), the Citizen’s Guide, and a website– all tools that help the public understand issues, find answers to their questions, and get active!

Members like Anne work so hard to make a difference in the lives of many. Her selfless and enthusiastic attitude towards the League’s work made her a valued and much appreciated member, ultimately resulting in her being elected the President of the League. In this position, she continues to work hard to carry out the League’s mission to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government. While Anne’s work with the League shapes society, the organization has also shaped her own life. Speaking of this, Anne says:

“Being a member and a leader within the League has allowed me to understand many issues I wouldn’t have been aware of and to meet and make friends with many others who are concerned about the same things I am.  It continues to be my favorite way to volunteer.”

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