We the People is a blog series that features the stories of members, supporters, volunteers, and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Together we are accomplishing critical work in our state to protect and advance civil liberties across the Midwest and beyond.
Jacquelinee A. Provencio (Jaci) joins us on our We the People Blog fresh off volunteering with two phone banks in Sioux Falls. Read more to see why she encourages people to get involved and bring their family, too.
When did you first hear about the ACLU?
I have known about the ACLU through political science courses and after reading about famous court cases they bravely took on. I admired their upheaval of law and equality. I thought they helped shaped history in a noble fashion. After a few years living in South Dakota, I had secondhand experience through a friend, Kadyn Wittman, who works in community engagement at the ACLU. She had also worked on the 2017 Women’s March. Kadyn was recently gaining steam in recruiting volunteers for upcoming projects, so I extended a passionate interest and she graciously poured out information in various ways to help.
Recently you took part in one of our official phone banks for House Bill 1057. How was it?
Participating with the phone banks at the local ACLU office is an educating experience since a civilian can gain exposure to current proposed bills or actions that violate human rights. You’re armed with research tools of bill details or constitution support to encourage other citizens to call to action, pun intended. The opportunity to call upon your neighbors to contact their representatives and listen to their views or answer questions on behalf of the ACLU is an honor. As a volunteer, it is humbling and exhilarating. The ACLU is so gracious and seeing outcomes where they may be positive or negative has its own reward. When lawmakers fail their constituents, we fight another day, plan to band together and rally with more fortitude. It’s inspiring they will accept defeat, but they surge on with grace, it’s admirable.
Which of the ACLU’s issue areas are you particularly passionate about and why?
My passion leads to issues that are human issues, due to its inclusive nature, and unapologetically all encompassing. These human issues are for all - cast your belief systems aside and unbiasedly aid in human matters. Since the third grade, I competed in speech/debate well into college while in California. The topics were right and left, archaic and challenging. I remember while doing research that I had not only to prepare my arguments for my affirmative stance, I reveled in that you must be prepared to fight the negation. This shaped my thinking pattern - to equally see both viewpoints and defend fiercely and fairly.
We were so glad to meet your little ones at our event. How important is it to you to that they are involved in your advocacy?
Yes, I do choose to bring my newborn twins with me to ACLU events due to its positive influence. You can try to teach your children right or wrong, however, for effective impact as a parent you can exemplify it. Being a fair role model and active in advocacy is important to my parenting structure. I want my children to hear and see positive action so they will be drawn to in times of need. If I aid others with vigor, imagine their opinion of what lengths I would endure for their equal treatment. When corruption or hurt happens unjustly they are reminded that it is someone’s baby, well having two I feel it deeply. Helping yours protects my own. I empathize with those treated unfairly - I am a female minority. However, I am not without capabilities or an active voice, so I use it. It is all really in hopes of encouragement that they both will do the same after I am gone.
What would you tell someone who is considering joining the ACLU as a volunteer or member?
If someone is considering volunteering, go forward. No intimidation or oversight - you're valuable with your conviction and are useful to your community. Whether you feel age, disability, or awareness is a hindrance, it is not - that gives you more insight into specific populations who feel left out. For them you owe it to be their voice.
Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in getting more polically involved in their community?
If someone feels compelled to go further in their civic duties and be politically involved, take the leap. Competition aside, you will engage with a captive audience who may be moved by your words or actions despite your political stance. Someone for everyone is a coined phrase for a reason. Your unique viewpoint may be what someone has been trying to say or needing to hear. The opportunity to represent the masses is an esteemed honor with any success your servitude is a labor of love. With setbacks and losses, you may inspire others to rise and learn. It is worthy of pursuing betterment and honoring one’s self.