Grassroots Spotlight: RESULTS Pittsburgh Group

July 30, 2020

Are you just finding RESULTS? Wondering what it’s like to be a volunteer? Take a look at what these six (mostly) new volunteers have been up to. Just since last fall, they have formed a RESULTS group in Pittsburgh, Pa., met with policymakers 10 times, published 14 letters to the editor, and one of them has even been elected to the RESULTS Board. Hear what inspires them and what they’re most proud of in their advocacy work.

Shweta Gudapati

Rising sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Biological Sciences

Advocacy experience: Advocate for 1 year, RESULTS Fellow in the 2019-2020 cohort

Why I became an advocate: I think it’s easy for you to feel like there’s nothing you can really do, unless you’re a politician or involved in politics. What RESULTS makes very clear from the start is that all the solutions to end poverty are out there. We just need to institute them into action. Just by virtue of being constituents, we can reach out to our members of Congress and push them to make more equitable policy decisions.

Proudest accomplishment: Speaking in a virtual meeting with Senator Bob Casey’s office! That was one of our first in-district meetings as a group, and it was really great.

What I love about my group: I love how collaborative RESULTS is. I think it’s so inspiring and so invigorating to be a part of such a wonderful organization. My colleagues in the Pittsburgh group – we’ve just been together since November, but already they’re such great people to hang out with and talk to. Ben and Lily [Callaway] bring their dog to meetings, so that’s always really fun. Charlie is the real MVP of RESULTS Pittsburgh.

Bridget Hughes

Rising freshman at Barnard College

How I got involved: Well it’s actually pretty simple. Over winter break in 2019, I was sitting in my room, and it kind of hit me all at once how much need for change there is in the world. I literally just googled “how to end poverty,” and eventually RESULTS came up.

Proudest moment: Getting my letter to the editor published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette! That was super exciting. It’s not just being published to be published. It’s standing behind everything I wrote and pushing for change.

What inspires me about my group: All the people in my group view themselves as very connected to other people regardless of social divisions. And that helps me stay motivated and inspired for how I want to live my life.

Keerthana Samanthapudi

Incoming University of Pittsburgh medical student, RESULTS Pittsburgh Group Leader

How long I’ve been an advocate: 3 years, RESULTS Fellow in the 2018-2019 cohort

How I found RESULTS: Good ol’ Google really came in a clutch. I found RESULTS online and joined an orientation call, and since then I’ve been a RESULTS Fellow, had the opportunity to be opening speaker for the RESULTS International Conference last year, and now I’m a founding member of the RESULTS Pittsburgh group. It’s been really great.

Why I became an advocate: I believed more incoming health professionals should speak up about health policy, and I wanted to learn more. Also, RESULTS really gives us the hope that we can make a difference without just accepting poverty as a reality. It’s definitely a very inspiring organization.

How RESULTS Pittsburgh began: When I joined three years ago, building this group was always the goal. I was the first person from the Pittsburgh area – I didn’t know anyone who was in RESULTS when I joined. Throughout my fellowship year I began to understand more about RESULTS and build my skills, and we started getting really passionate people joining. And now here we are.

Sarah Vizzeswarapu

Rising junior at University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Economics

How I got involved: I started advocating with RESULTS a couple months ago. I’m really interested in health and economics and trying to get people access to medical care who can’t afford it. I did some advocacy in high school and college, and I wanted to expand it to the congressional level. I just googled it and found this group.

Proudest moment: I recently got a couple letters to the editor through to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was really fun to see them in an established newspaper. I’m proud that a lot of the readers from the community and members of Congress can see what I think. It’s a really exciting way to make a statement, and see it have an effect on the community.

What motivates me: While I’m here at college, I want to make a statement and have an impact. After I leave, I want to be able to say, “This is something I did, and I’m proud of it.”

Lily Callaway

Newly elected RESULTS Grassroots Board Member

How I found RESULTS: I was looking for something that I could do that I’m passionate about, like global policy. Some friends said, “You should try doing skill-based volunteering.” I happened to be scrolling through Volunteer Match listings and RESULTS popped up. I was so excited because I didn’t know that you could do advocacy as just a normal constituent – I thought you had to be a lobbyist.

What keeps me going: I care a lot about poverty, and I’m really passionate about people getting proper health care and being aware of how to access health care. It all started out as just looking for a volunteer opportunity. Then I recruited my husband Ben [Callaway], and he can tell you more about that.

Proudest accomplishment: We got Rep. Mike Doyle to sign on to the appropriations request letter for the Global Fund! It was a big combination of Ben getting a letter published, Bridget getting a letter published, and our group emails to Rep. Doyle. It was truly a team effort.

What I love about my group: All of us haven’t been together that long as a group, but we have such a solidarity. Everybody really energizes me. We’re all rooting for each other to succeed, because the more letters we get out, the bigger case we can make to our representative.

Ben Callaway

Why I joined RESULTS: Lily and I were wanting to get involved in the local community. I wanted to do something on a large, macro scale, and RESULTS really fit into that. I’ve learned how to get letters published and communicate with the staff of elected officials to get things done.

Proudest moment: In April when all of us were getting letters published and talking to Rep. Doyle’s office to get him to sign to the Global Fund letter – that was a big win. We were also able to get the attention of staff in Sen. Bob Casey’s office, and one of his aides stated that Sen. Casey would be committed to fully funding global health priorities as well. It is using our strengths as a group, from publishing media to working with congressional staffers, that ensures that we’re going to get these things done.

 What inspires me: We are engaged in long term committed change. It’s not something that’s trendy or momentary. We’re building relationships that are going to last, among group members, then relationships with elected officials and their staff. We’re building structures for the long haul to make things happen.

Stephanie Carleton

How I got involved with RESULTS Pittsburgh: I met Keerthi at my first RESULTS International Conference a few years ago. We both thought we were the only ones from Pittsburgh. I didn’t know anybody before, but now I have RESULTS friends all across Pennsylvania.

What I like about my group: It’s so nice to be in a group with so many young people. Young people have so much energy, and they energize me.

What inspires me to keep going: I’ve been passionate about social justice since high school. In 1968, I learned in civics and economics class that we have the resources to feed the entire world – we just aren’t distributing those resources.

When I discovered RESULTS, that really opened a door to making a difference. I like that they’re nonpartisan. And we’ll keep working on our representatives on both sides of the aisle to address poverty.

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