Empowering Seniors in Chicago to Engage with the Issues

Group picture of Jane Addams Seniors in Action members posing in front of a bus.

Jane Addams Seniors in Action works to build racial, social, and economic justice. Its activities include community organizing, coalition building, issue campaigns, referenda efforts, educating voters, direct lobbying, and candidate electoral endorsements. With support from Voqal, Jane Addams Seniors in Action began organizing a base of seniors capable of engaging with both the important everyday issues directly affecting them and the elected officials who directly influence those issues.

Jane Addams Seniors in Action builds its base around electoral organizing by doing large membership meetings, senior building/nursing home house meetings, door knocking, phone banking, and relational meetings with seniors living in subsidized housing. Its electoral work has been a great leadership development space for its members. Leaders have taken the skills, political analysis, and canvass techniques that they have learned through their electoral work back to their organizing campaign work.

Leaders like Debra Miller and Marsha Cole. Miller and Cole are two leaders who grew a lot through this work. Miller has become more serious about building power in her own building and helped lead the endorsement process. Cole was recruited through Jane Addams Seniors in Action’s electoral work in the 49th ward. She is now on the Jane Addams Seniors in Action board. Over the last year, Cole has participated in civil disobedience and her disruption at the American Medical Association delegates assembly has had a ripple effect on new Jane Addams Seniors members – especially members of color.

Jane Addams Seniors in Action recognizes that to truly see progressive change, citizens need to have the skills and confidence to get directly involved. Voqal shares this belief and looks forward to the more socially equitable Chicago Jane Addams Seniors in Action is creating for not only seniors but all of the city’s residents.

Learn more about Jane Addams Senior in Action on its website.