Raymond Voter Information Project News

Raymond Voter Information Project Seeks Voters’ Guide Administrator
by Leslie O'Donnell   7-27-17

A group of Raymond residents, who got together eight years ago in a friend’s living room to talk about ways to educate themselves and others about warrant articles, has burgeoned into the Raymond Voter Information Project – VIP - which produces a free guide to the Town and School District elections just prior to the March election.

While some of the original members have moved away or shifted their attention to other interests, a core group of men and women remain devoted to the group’s central focus – that the “responsibility for good government rests on the shoulders of every citizen,” the importance of having well-informed voters, and the good of the Town being “best served when all its citizens participate in study, deliberation and voting.” That mission is fulfilled by providing “objective voter information” in the annual voters’ guide.

All the work is done by volunteers.

“What impresses me is the caliber of people who volunteer for our group,” said current president Susan Hilchey. “Starting in January or early February this year, people were asking when our voters’ guide was coming out. While we can’t publish until after Deliberative Sessions, when the final changes to the warrants are made, it’s wonderful that residents are eager to see the guide.”

The guide started from scratch after the group organized as a non-profit in 2009, and has published every year since. But an administrator is needed this year to guide the editorial committee – last year’s administrator is stepping down because of work commitments - or there won’t be a voters’ guide this year.

It costs about $2,000 to publish the guide each year, and the money is raised from membership fees ($20 annually), and business and individual donations. Grants have also helped VIP in its goals to increase voter turnout and voter education.

“We have maintained many of our original business supporters and found new ones because they believe in what VIP does to help engage the community, get out the vote, and encourage people to run for office,” Hilchey noted proudly.

“Raymond is a small community and is a wonderful place – in great part because of the volunteers we have,” she added.

Hilchey welcomes residents to contact her if they are interested in volunteering with VIP, and said the group offers a wealth of different kinds of opportunities – outreach, contacts with students and seniors, sales, and reporting and editing the guide. “We’re willing to train, and we have a tried and true product,” she said.

Officers in addition to Hilchey are Joyce Wood, vice president; Yvonne D’Iorio, secretary; John Beauvilliers, treasurer; and Sue Roundy and Dana Zulager, members-at-large.

Right now, Hilchey is looking for a volunteer who thrives on short-term, group-oriented tasks to serve as voters’ guide administrator. That person also needs skills in oral and written communication, time management, the meeting of deadlines, and data management.

“The guide is kind of like a theater production – with short-term relationships - and it is wonderful and intensive,” she said. “We work closely with other professionals, learn new skills, and become informed about Town and School District issues. And we have many levels of checkers to prevent mistakes and bias.

“The administrator should have a strong desire to get involved and make the town a better place, with a better informed constituency, and an interest to bring objective information to residents so they can make informed decisions,” she added. “And this is a great opportunity to gain marketable skills.”

Even someone new to Raymond could fit the bill, Hilchey said. “It’s a great way to learn about the community and meet other people,” she noted, suggesting a teacher or manager might find the volunteer position both challenging and worthwhile. The work takes place primarily from the end of December up to the March election.

“Raymond VIP is in a really healthy position, and we have a dedicated board and readership,” she said. “But we all benefit from new people coming in and offering new ideas.”

“We’re eager to increase our membership and donations, and we are eager to publish our guide next year,” she concluded.

In addition to its voters’ guide, VIP offers programs to engage people of all ages. In the past it has sponsored a writing contest at the Iber Holmes Gove Middle School, has done outreach with seniors, worked with Girl Scouts, staffed booths at town and school events, and offered a fall speaker’s program.

This year’s fall speaker’s program is partnered with New Hampshire Humanities and features “Uprooted: Heartache and Hope in New Hampshire” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Regional Economic Development Center, 57 Main Street. The free program is a 30-minute documentary based on interviews collected during the Humanities Council's Fences & Neighbors initiative on immigration. It tells the story of five refugees who escaped from war-torn countries to resettle in New Hampshire, and explores what it means to be a refugee and how it feels to make a new life in a strange place, often without English language skills, family, a job, or community contacts. The film raises questions about belonging and citizenship, what it means to be an American, and whether once a refugee, is a person always a refugee? A discussion period led by Sara Withers, a lecturer in anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, follows the film.

More information about Raymond VIP, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, can be found at  www.raymondvip.org .






Raymond Voter Information Project

Box 813, Raymond NH 03077

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