I became an advocate because of my mother. I come from a two-parent home and my sister and I are the only children. We are 14 months apart in age. When we were in elementary school, there was a Boy Scout troop. My mother thought to herself that it was a great after-school program, but, her girls were excluded. So she went to the local Connecticut Trails Council of Girl Scouts and started a Girl Scout troop at West Hills Elementary School. SHE SAW A NEED AND DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT! She became the change she wanted to see.
My advocacy experience began when I became a member of Mother for Justice, a grassroots advocacy group of women who "make right" the social and economic injustices that affect our families. We seek to change laws and policy that we think are not "fair" to the underprivileged. We track the laws and policies that are being introduced to the Connecticut State General Assembly. We testify for or against the ones that would affect us. We have a good relationship with our legislators in Hartford and they listen to our recommendations.
My 13 year old son sees the work I do with MFJ and other advocacy groups that I'm involved with – Witnesses to Hunger, New Haven Food Policy Council, and End Hunger CT, just to name a few – and he is intrigued and wants to help out also. I recently did a photo exhibit for Witnesses to Hunger and he agreed to be in two of the photos that highlight our hardship near the end of the month, when our food stamps run out and we run low on food. He also helped us in our canvassing last summer for the Summer Meals Program. We went to several local businesses to ask them to display flyers about the summer meals and where the children can get a meal even though school is out. I asked him why he wanted to take time out of his Saturday in the summer to do this. He said simply, "Because I see the work you are doing for me and I want to help!” By doing this Summer Meal Campaign the participation increased.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that our children are watching us and what we do as parents. Be it good, bad or ugly, they are taking it all in whether we know it or not. So let's advocate for change. Let's be the change we want to see. And let's do it NOW and not wait for the next person to do it. I'm sure that my son will continue to advocate as he gets older because he sees that in order to make change he has to get involved.