Advocacy is not a hobby – we are here to do real work

August 22, 2019
by Yolanda Gordon, South Carolina

This is an excerpt from an address Yolanda gave on July 16, 2019 to hundreds of advocates gathered on Capitol Hill as they prepared for a day of meetings with congressional offices.

At one point in my life, I relied on government programs to provide for my family. To some people, I was just a statistic. I identify as many things, and this does not define who I am – it is just one part of my story. I am also an advocate.

Many of us travel as advocates every year to Washington, DC to meet with our representatives on Capitol Hill and push for policies that will help end poverty. Or we take action in in-district offices throughout the year. Many would like us to think the odds are against us, and special interests will always win.

But we must rest on faith that the representative or staff person on the other side of that table, though they may not have walked in our shoes, will one day hear what we are saying. Like sculptors, we can chip away at their marble and create champions to our cause.

Advocacy is not a hobby. Sometimes the people we advocate for are invisible to us, and in many cases will do nothing for us in return. It is not something that just looks great on a resume – we are here to do real work, for real people.

We are all a community. This world may have borders and corners created and designed by people, but I see a limitless horizon where we all are connected.

When I felt invisible, I know that many in the community carried me. I did not know who they were, but they were there in the trenches fighting with me. They carried me into their meetings, and carried me through their days, even though to them I may have been merely a statistic. I am greatly appreciative of that work.

If those of us with earned and unearned privilege ignore what is occurring in our nation and our world, we have nothing. To be useful to the people we have chosen to serve, we must look clearly at the problems.

Sometimes those problems seem overwhelming, and the fight against poverty can seem never ending. But it is not about resources; it is about choice. Choose to serve. Use your political will today.

Yolanda is a RESULTS advocate and Expert on Poverty based in South Carolina.

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