We started the advocacy network back in July of 2020 and we kind of revamped it a couple years ago.
We wanted to provide various opportunities for advocates to be involved.
If you’re a new advocate and you’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing, you know, we provide this monthly advocacy live.
It’s the third Tuesday of every month and we alternate times each month from 1:00.
We’re at 1:00 and 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
So we can try to get our advocates on the West Coast included also with the time change, but it’s not.
It’s an open forum.
Steve and I are there to kind of facilitate and answer questions, but it’s an open forum where advocates from all over the country come into this zoom call and they just discuss what they’re doing if they have questions because our whole goal is to engage and collaborate all our advocates whether they’re in California or Florida because either even though you’re across the country from one another, you still be may you may be working on the same issue or you may be able to answer questions or provide a templates or something to help somebody.
So that has really grown.
We’ve been doing that for two years.
Maybe it’s it’s flown by, but we usually monthly get between 35 and 50 advocates on the call a month.
These are our Roll On Capitol Hill, which is where we actually go to DC This past summer, we flew in around 100 advocates and I believe we had around 160 meetings with members of Congress.
So yeah, that’s a lot of meetings.
And there were, you know, we usually only cover three issues because when you go into these meetings, sometimes you only have 10-15 minutes, sometimes half an hour.
It really depends.
Sometimes you’re talking to the staff instead of the actual member of Congress.
But that’s just as important because you have to convince that staff that what you’re talking about is important enough for them to relay it to the member of Congress.
So it’s, I’ve learned a lot.
And you know we have an education day for our Roll On Capitol Hill and our virtual advocacy days because a lot of the advocates have never done anything like that before.
So they are extremely, some are very intimidated by going to speaking to these members of Congress.
And one thing that Steve and I like to emphasize is one of the best forms of advocacy is to Share your story.
And so I was like, when I do my presentations and talk to groups about advocacy, I was like, I was an advocate before I even knew I was an advocate because I’ve shared my story to to many people.
And that really helps people relate when they hear that personal aspect.
You may be talking to a member of Congress and they’re like, oh, you know, I have a…I have a cousin who’s in a wheelchair.
You know, it may just help them click more and help them relate more.
So we always try to tell them that.
And nobody knows your story better than you do.
So not only that, Mark and I have you learned through this whole process, You know, you, you really have to build your circle, you know, and find the people that appreciate you and wanna celebrate you and hear your story and care about the issues and things like that, you know.
And once you have that, then you have a lot more support and a lot more, you know, your ability to do things.
Yes, you know.
And that’s why Steve and I are always, you know, trying to push to register as a advocate for United Spinal.
It’s a very simple form on the website and it’s you’re not taking on any huge commitments.
One of the main things that our registered advocates get are they’re called action alerts, and it’s for policy and issues that we want our members of Congress to be aware of.