Grassroots Spotlight: Beth Wilson
I was recently standing in a big room full of people I didn’t know, watching my congressman address the crowd from a staircase. Suddenly, he called me out by name.
“Take Beth Wilson, here,” he said. “She volunteers with RESULTS, and she works really hard to make sure I understand and support the urgent investments we make in foreign aid, to make sure the world is a better place for all of us.”
Everyone turned and looked at me. I have known my congressman for a long time, but I didn’t expect him to point out my advocacy in his speech.
Though I was startled (and honored!), my representative knowing who I am and exactly what I stand for is not just luck. As many advocates know, relationships with members of Congress are not miracles. It can take work and a lot of time to build them. And sometimes it can be hard.
Approaching members of Congress, I always try to start with an understanding of their humanity. Rep. Kilmer, who called me out in his speech, is a champion on the global poverty issues I care about. That didn’t happen by accident – it took many years of careful work on the part of RESULTS volunteers, including me.
But that’s not the case with every elected official we approach. Sometimes we may seem to be on opposite sides of an issue. We work hard to look for what we have in common, and that can be enough to crack open the door. We may never move them to become a congressional champion on our issue, but maybe they will shift to a neutral position, and that can also make a big impact. I believe the most important thing is the quality of the relationship.
Then you can speak to the issues based on your own shared values about the importance of children, the importance of family, the importance of caring for each other. And out of that comes policy discussions on education, health, housing, and so much more.
Twelve years ago, I was moved to become an advocate with RESULTS. RESULTS not only trains us how to raise our voices to Congress, but also tees up policy changes so that we can have impact. All that’s needed is our voices, telling Congress what we care about, with strong, clear calls to action. We can move legislation and billions of dollars through the U.S. government. We have huge responsibilities.
One of our major goals is to make sure that all the preventable deaths of children are ended by 2035. That’s also the year I turn 85 years old. My goal is to work as hard as I can until then to make sure no children are dying of preventable causes. And one of the best ways to accomplish that is through the power of advocacy. Since the 1980s, we’ve helped cut the number of child deaths by more than two-thirds – and we’re not stopping until we end them for good.
I only have one life, and I can’t waste it. The best way I know how to use my life is by making a difference in the world through RESULTS.
Beth Wilson is a RESULTS Regional Coordinator, RESULTS group Co-Leader, and 2019 recipient of the Bob Dickerson Award for her dedication to advocacy. She lives in Olalla, Washington.