by Brenna Lakeson
Before my time at the OAC, I didn’t know much about advocacy. I was politically involved in that I voted and did my research before I went to the polls, but I knew next to nothing about following legislation or contacting my representatives. Through attending multiple Advocacy Workshops put on by our partner Presbyterians for a Better Georgia, I’ve learned a great deal about how to be a better advocate and why it’s important for my work at the OAC and my life outside the center.
- They really do listen! While it might be hard to believe, I’ve seen evidence that my representatives do read my communications with them. While my US House and Senate rep’s might not directly read all my emails and faxes, they get information through their staff about how their constuents feel, and if I don’t tell them, they can’t know! My state representatives are even more communicative. I’ve received personal emails back several times from Elena Parent and Bee Nguyen when I’ve contacted them about specific legislation. So, while it can feel like a drop in the bucket, all those drops add up.
- Changing the system means BIG CHANGE. Many of us are dissillusioned by politics right now, which is understandable. However, like it or not, the way to make big changes happen in our society is to change the way our infrastructure and politics function. At the OAC, we work every day to open doors out of homelessness, but we also want to prevent homelessness from occurring, which means fighting to put into place protections for affordable housing, access to healthcare, and access to education for people like our guests. These things can only happen if we change the systems that cause homelessness.
- It’s a right and an honor. As a woman, I wasn’t always allowed to be involved in our political process. Many people spent years fighting for me to be able to have a voice, and I’m grateful. Not everyone in every country is afforded the right to have a voice in their political process, so I see it as my duty as a participant in democracy. Democracy only works if we all make ourselves heard, so I encourage you not to be despondent in our divisive times – let your representatives know how you feel, even if that feeling is frustration and anger! Things can only change if we do something about it.
So, get out there and do something! Join us and Presbyterians for a Better Georgia for a training on January 26 and for our Day at the Capitol on February 6th. Register here!