New York, NY–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 22, 2004–Growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Maria Polanco had been a social activist for most of her life. She advocated for better education and jobs and was a member of her neighborhood community group.
Polanco moved to Bronx, NY in 1981, and in 1993 a friend suggested she come to a meeting of a group he was involved with called ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
“ACORN worked on similar issues I worked on in Santo Domingo,” she said. “My friend said, ‘I belong to an organization that I know you will love to join.’”
And he was right. After listening to an ACORN organizer speak at the meeting, Polanco paid the $20 membership fee that night She has been involved with ACORN ever since and is now ACORN’s National Vice President.
Over the past year, ACORN has launched an unprecedented registration effort and has delivered more than 1.1 million voter registration cards to election officials throughout the county. Record new registrations have been reported in Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Tucson, Phoenix and Miami.
In the last weeks before the election, ACORN will continue to build upon its success with its massive “Count on Me” campaign. Ten thousand ACORN volunteers, members and staff will make personal contact with nearly 1 million voters – including reaching out to many newly registered voters and “unlikely” voters who have been unrecorded in most national polls.
“Our members and community organizers have walked thousands of miles, knocking on doors and convincing their neighbors that they could make a difference by registering and turning out to vote on Election Day,” said Palanco. “But the key to our success is that they know we will be there after November 2, no matter who wins the election.”
Founded in 1970, ACORN’s mission is to empower working families to have a voice in the political process. The largest community based organization of its kind, ACORN members include 700 neighborhood chapters in 75 cities across the country with over 150,000 low and moderate income families. ACORN takes action on issues of direct concern to its members. Campaigns include exposing and curbing predatory lending practices, increasing the minimum wage, and improving the quality of urban public schools.
The mother of two teenagers, Polanco, 46, said she is most passionate about education issues. ACORN has brought her and her neighbors together to improve the poorest public schools in the Bronx.
“Forty students per classroom, no books, no teachers, after school programs not functioning and teachers didn’t care,” said Polanco. “After we started the campaign four years ago a lot of people listened, the media paid attention, and politicians came to rallies. We accomplished a lot. Now people in Brooklyn want the same kind of program to improve their schools.”
Polanco said the schools in districts ACORN targeted now have 20 students per classroom, functioning after school programs and more certified teachers.
“ACORN gives low income and minority communities a way to work on issues that concern you,” said Polanco, who works as an accountant for a non-profit organization. “ACORN is open to what the people want to fight for, which are usually their neighborhood concerns. And then ACORN follows up and gives its members the tools to make change.”
For more information on ACORN, visit http://www.acorn.org.
McKinney & Associates