Unleash Your Inner Activist and Make a Real Difference
May 16, 2012 BY Portia Mount
I have a confession to make. I’m a recovering arm-chair political pundit. Until recently, my political involvement was limited to voting in general elections and watching Meet the Press on Sunday.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of opinions about the political news of the day, but I never really got involved beyond that.
Then, last fall, that all changed when I became a Champion for Shot@Life, a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. As a mother to a young son and an avid world traveler, the Shot@Life campaign immediately appealed to me.
I knew I had to get involved beyond simply telling friends and family about this amazing campaign.
At the Shot@Life Champion Summit, I went to a special advocacy training led by UN Foundation senior staff.
It was at that session that I truly learned the power of advocacy. Beyond becoming familiar with the specifics of the Shot@Life campaign, we learned how we could educate our congressional representatives to support programs and funds for global vaccines.
Armed with my new knowledge, I set out to schedule a meeting with my local congressional representative, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC).
I was more than a little nervous. How would I ever convince her that the Shot@Life campaign and US government support for global vaccines were worth supporting?
I wanted her to know that constituents in her district cared about many different issues, some she might support and others not.
As nervous as I was about meeting with Representative Foxx’s staff, I was passionate about the Shot@Life campaign and I wanted her to know that she had constituents like me who cared about making sure children around the world had access to life-saving vaccines.
So I mustered up my courage and called her office to make an appointment to talk about global vaccines and the work Shot@Life is doing to support the cause. Her staff were friendly, accessible and immediately put me at ease.
Armed with my meeting time, I prepared myself by researching her voting record, learning about the committees she served on and finding any background details that might help me connect my passion for Shot@Life with Representative Foxx’s interests.
The congressional staff meeting not only went well, it exceeded my expectations.
Though brief, the meeting was one of the highlights of my year so far. My first thought upon walking out of Representative Foxx’s offices was, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” followed by “When can I do this again?” I thought of the all the years I have been voting and all of the issues that I care about.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from preparing for and meeting with my congressional representative was that I not only had a right, but I had a duty to make my voice heard about the issues I care about.
The fact that my members of congress may have dramatically different views and beliefs from my own, makes it all the more important they hear from me. After all, our representatives in Washington are elected to represent all their constituents, not just the ones who agree with them.
These days, it’s so easy to feel cynical about politics and politicians in general, but this meeting gave me a new energy to get involved and stay involved at the local level.
I’m looking forward to my next meeting to support the Shot@Life campaign and to being a voice in and for my community.
Standing up for childhood is easier than you may think! Click here to email Congress and take action to support global vaccine funding!
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