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.
Kadyn Wittman is from Wilmar, Minn. She has been a part of the ACLU of South Dakota team for over a year and recently started a new position within the team to grow community and member relationships.
Recently you started a new positon within the ACLU. What will you be doing?
My new role is Community Engagement Associate for the ACLU of South Dakota. There are a broad range of new responsibilities that come with it, but my main focus will be to create and implement new ACLU events across the state to engage with more local members and build lasting relationships with different organizations and businesses in South Dakota. These new ACLU sponsored events will range from educational opportunities like volunteer trainings to entertaining events, like our recent Pints & Politics mixer in Rapid City.
Why is community important to you?
I have been deeply invested in my Sioux Falls community, and especially its non-profit sector, for nearly 10 years. I love living in Sioux Falls and see many opportunities for our city to expand and strengthen its capacity for community. I’ve donated my time to many local and statewide organizations like PFLAG, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. All of these organizations have one thing in common: they advocate for disenfranchised populations in our city. By providing our city with much needed resources, they also create a community of support for the populations they serve. These support communities add so much value to our city and I can’t wait to see how they continue to serve Sioux Falls in the future.
How is the ACLU empowering a new team of volunteers?
When looking at the programming for our chapter of the ACLU, I noticed that there were a lot of people in our community who wanted to donate their time and talent to us but felt unsure where to begin. People loved to sign up to help at our events but would often show up not quite sure what we do or how to talk about our work. This reminded me of when I was a young ACLU volunteer; excited and enthusiastic about the cause but also hesitant about how the work itself was carried out. I want all of our volunteers and members to feel empowered and capable when talking about whom the ACLU is and the work we accomplish. Recently, I created our first ever Volunteer Training Program and have taken it to different communities across the state. This training teaches ACLU volunteers about the ACLU as a whole and the work we are doing here in South Dakota.
What advice would you have people trying to make a difference in their communities?
Make two lists:
- List any talents or special skills you have
- List organizations you feel passionate about and want to donate your time to
After you’ve completed your lists, reach out to those organizations and work with them to find the best way to utilize your time and talent. These organizations most likely have lots of projects for volunteers to help with, and with an established presence in the community you can be sure your time will make a big impact!
What is one thing you’d like people to know about the work you do?
There is never an “off season” when it comes to defending civil liberties. Anything you can give us – your time, talent, or a donation – is greatly appreciate and helps us continue our tireless work in South Dakota!