We sat down with Shams Al-Badry, a RESULTS volunteer in Lincoln, Nebraska, during the 2018 RESULTS International Conference to talk about how she’s evolved as an advocate and why she’s so committed to her work with RESULTS.
Q. What motivates you as an advocate, especially in this challenging political environment?
A. Students and families need SNAP [formerly known as food stamps] and Medicaid. As long as those programs face threats, I will advocate for them. That’s a big part of my work as a RESULTS volunteer. As a teacher, I had students come into class hungry. It’s mind boggling to me that we think we can cut these programs and not affect children. One kid going to bed hungry is not okay.
Q. Why did you initially get involved with RESULTS?
A. RESULTS spoke to me because I was teaching in a low-income school with lots of kids whose families needed extra support. There’s a myth that parents aren’t working or trying, but it’s just not true. Many of my students’ parents had multiple jobs to make ends meet. I understood this, as I was also a Head Start kid, and I want to make sure other kiddos have that kind of support, too.
Q. There are a lot of organizations working on important issues. What makes RESULTS worth your time?
A. It’s the passion in the organization. If I have questions, RESULTS staff is one email or call away. Also, I’ve seen that RESULTS is an organization that’s willing to evolve. I’d say if you’re considering getting involved with RESULTS, just do it.
Q. You’ve probably evolved as advocate, too. Can you talk a bit about what you’ve learned in your 2 years as a RESULTS advocate?
A. I remember the first time I was in my senator’s office, and I was so nervous I butchered everything I was supposed to say. But then I realized that they don’t know everything either. It’s okay to be imperfect and follow up. This year was different, I was able to make our asks and knew that our representatives were there to hear from their constituents. Advocacy also translates to other areas of my life. I recently helped coordinate a community forum on civic engagement here in Lincoln. Part of that process was to reach out and connect with local officials, and thankfully through my training as a RESULTS REAL Change Fellow I had the tools and resources to prepare for those meetings.
Shams Al-Badry is an academic advisor in Lincoln, Nebraska. She’s working on a master’s degree in community development.