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An Interview with an ACT for America Chapter Leader

ACT: Hi Ann, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today about your recent accomplishment in North Carolina!  Let’s start at the very beginning.  Tell us a little bit about your background.

Ann: I was raised by a Navy captain and southern belle, and we moved often in the U.S. and all over the world.  I have an understanding about how great this country is having seen how other countries live. I lived in Italy, Germany, Thailand, and all over the U.S. My career was in Human Resources, recruiting employees for companies like Coors Brewery, Pergo Floors, ADT Security, and the U.S. Army as a civilian. We grew up watching military parades and were part of a big family of patriotic Americans. I was one of three children, and a middle child (peace maker).  Moving was exciting, meeting many new friends and seeing the world. It gave me the ability to adapt. ‘Sink or swim.’

I settled down in eastern North Carolina with a desire to do more than play golf and a hunger to make a difference and keep our country what it was meant to be by our founders. I strongly believe in the constitution and am a constitutional conservative.

ACT: When did you come on board as an ACT for America Chapter Leader?

Ann: I began as an ACT Chapter Leader in 2013, but was not active until more recently. We had a small group that wanted to learn about Islam. We viewed ACT videos and ready study books.

ACT: What led you to decide to join the ACT for America Team as a Chapter Leader? 

Ann: Our group was formed in 2013 and we decided, as a group, to join ACT as a resource. l had seen Brigitte Gabriel on TV and      wanted to be part of the movement to protect our national security. I was not active until an ACT for America Chapter Leader called me and we talked about forming a North Carolina stronghold. She encouraged me with her enthusiastic personality to become more active.  I began attending her chapter meetings and then having regular ACT North Carolina Chapter Leader get-togethers.

ACT: What led you to decide to take action on the refugee issue in your community?

Ann: I was always concerned with church groups that were bringing in people from other countries. I didn’t understand why they were not helping our own citizens like the veterans, our homeless, and our poor here. When we had a triple murder here by one of the refugees, I was stunned and really woke up. Then when I found out these groups were getting funding from the federal government, it really upset me. President Obama started talking about bringing in Syrians, so I started asking     questions in our community. I guess you could say that anger fueled me. The more information I found out, the angrier I became. Anger can be channeled for constructive purposes.

ACT: How did you know where to start? Who to talk to? Where to get information? How would you advise someone who would like to do the same thing in his or her community?  

Ann: I didn’t know where to start. But a friend sent me Ann Corcoran’s video and I began digging and educating myself. Ann has great guides and data to read. I read her book, her blogs, and joined her email list and also Jim Simpson’s Resettlement Resisters. Once I had the facts, I started contacting all of my elected officials, local, state and federal. I expressed my concern about our security. I asked them to find out what was happening in our local area. I even called the chief of police to find out what he knew or what he could find out.

I started out asking if any Syrians were coming to our county. The local contractor assured us that no Syrians were here. But I wanted to ward off any future potential of this happening.  I kept contacting all of my elected officials.  I sent them articles on the refugee program.  I met with the director of the local resettlement agency in my town.  With a small group of like-minded friends and chapter members we expressed our fears. The director assured us that the program was well run and that ‘mostly families’ come and they work.  Not feeling very reassured, I attended any political town hall meetings or listening sessions that I found out about and asked lots of questions about the refugee program. I found out most elected officials know next to nothing.

I never did hear from any of these officials.  But after many months of contacting and emailing information, one commissioner was starting to listen.  He could not deny 3 town hall meetings with 12-18 people all saying the same thing. He asked for more data.  I asked him for data from the county about how much the county was spending on refugee health care, schooling, tutors, food stamps etc. We kept the pressure on him.  When he started to understand about the money these groups are getting from the government and the money that was coming from the county for services and benefits, he began to soften up.  I developed a fact sheet about Refugee Resettlement in our state and also in our town. I used the information I obtained from Office of Refugee Resettlement databases, Ann Corcoran’s blog and the figures that came back from the county inquiry. I included salaries of local and national agencies that were obtained from Guidestar. We passed these out at our local festival, and local chapter meetings, tea party meetings and political events and parties.  We wrote letters to the editor, called local talk radio and discussed various aspects of the program.

ACT: How did you go about informing and educating other citizens within your community concerning the Refugee Resettlement issue? 

Ann: Answers above, but I also talked to Tea Party groups and Republican Women’s Clubs and bible study group about what was going on. I am a member of both.

ACT When talking with others, did you find that the majority of people in your community were?
  • In favor of allowing refugees?
  • Not aware of the issue?
  • Not real concerned about the issue?
  • Not fully informed on the facts?
  • Surprised by the facts when presented to them?
  • In favor of allowing refugees? 
Ann:  I found most to be surprised by the facts when presented to them.

ACT: Were you met with a significant amount of opposition and judgment, bullying?  If so, what kept you from backing down?

Ann: YES. My commissioner received quite a bit of hate mail and phone calls calling him shameful and all the usual names. Name-calling is their forte and these were directed toward our group and the commissioners through letters to the editor.  I wanted to quit several times as I HATE confrontation, remember I am a middle child. But several friends encouraged me and I had a lot of support from my chapter, the ACT Refugee Work Group in North Carolina, like-minded friends, Tea Party, and ACT for America. Jolene was the most caring and concerned listener when I called her. Kelly Cook was also very supportive and assured me that Act has my back. And last but not least I believe God had a hand in this.

ACT: As you got involved with this issue at the local level, what did you encounter that was surprising to you?

Ann:  It surprised me how many elected officials said, “We can’t do anything about it, it is a federal issue”. I was also surprised at how few people knew this was not a strictly church voluntary charity handling this. Most of these agencies have a name that sounds like a church group.
I was also surprised at how arrogant the opposition was to our sincere concerns. I was up against a very large episcopal church that is the oldest church in town and they have a huge membership. 

ACT: Do you expect to work more on this issue during the days and weeks ahead, and if so, how? 

Ann: I want to take time off, as it can be mentally draining, but it will not go away on its own.  We have to keep the pressure on these agencies and expose them.  This resolution did not fix the problem only gave the issue a FACE.

The opposition fights very hard for their victories and we need to do the same.  They don’t give up easily. Conservatives by nature are quieter and more reserved. We expect our elected officials to do their job and protect Americans. But as we have seen, they are not doing that. Some in Congress are defending our country, like Louis Gohmert, Steve King, Jeff Sessions, Walter Jones, and Brian Babin. I would like to mentor others in other cities and states.  Next goal is take this statewide and then nationwide.  The Board is sending this resolution to our Governor, immigration, federal and state legislators and House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

ACT: How has your “win” – and the decision by the Craven County Board of Commissioners – impacted your work as a national security grassroots activist?  

Ann: I am elated and have realized that a few people can achieve a lot. You just have to believe in your cause and have God’s grace. 

ACT: What words of advice do you have for other ACT for America Chapter Leaders or general members?  Is there anything you would like to say to others to inspire those who would like to follow your example? 

Ann: I am not a go-getter by any means.  But when you feel passionately about something and persevere, there is no limit to what you can achieve. I remember saying to a few people when I felt like I wasn’t making any progress “ I AM NOT GIVING UP”.  If all of the ACT members can come together, we are a powerful force.  Don’t ever give up. If we give in to the evil forces, we will regret not having tried to save our country.

ACT: What suggestions do you have to get others in your state involved so that similar resolutions can be passed throughout NC?

Ann: I have already been working with the ACT North Carolina Refugee Work Group. We have conference calls to share ideas and encourage each other.  I think they can use this resolution as a template to talk to their officials about making North Carolina safe. There are some very dedicated ACT members who are extremely selfless.

ACT: How do you think this development has emboldened existing and potential Chapter Leaders in North Carolina to pursue what you’ve accomplished?  

Ann: Because I am just like they are, just a regular patriotic American that doesn’t want to see their country ruined.  This success was SO SWEET.  We can all make a difference if we try.

ACT: Thank you, Ann!

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