Texas and Oklahoma advocates gather face-to-face in Austin
The air shimmered from the scorching hot sun on a recent Saturday in Austin, Texas, but nothing was going to stop over 50 Texas and Oklahoma advocates from traveling from near and far to be together. The COVID-19 pandemic had kept them from gathering face-to-face for several years, so this was an exciting day for many.
Attendees walked into a hallway lined with tables full of breakfast pastries, name tags, and agendas for the day. They were ready to learn, take action, and most importantly, connect with each other.
See photos and quotes from attendees below.
Cynthia Levin, an advocate and author from St. Louis, Missouri, led a session on writing and publishing media. She took the audience through the process of writing media pieces step by step and included an entertaining takedown of a ChatGPT-produced letter to the editor. The audience was fully engaged and asked lots of questions.
Ivy Rob (Dallas, TX), Margaret Smith (Dallas, TX), and others worked on their letters to the editor.
Babita Daware (Trophy Club, TX) with son Mehul Daware: “I’m excited to see all the volunteers because of all the remote work we do. We don’t get to see other volunteers from the rest of the state too very often. This is a great opportunity to meet the volunteers from Texas and Oklahoma!”
Craig Roshaven (Fort Worth, TX) (standing) facilitated moments of connection and getting to know each other for the attendees.
Peter Kim (Austin, TX): “Being here means everything. It’s been a while since I’ve seen advocates in person, face to face. The last time was last summer, other than the local meetings of course. But seeing everyone, talking to people, getting new perspectives – it’s inspiring.”
Jonathan Nguyen (Katy, TX) introduced a panel of local experts for a session on affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Starke spoke virtually to the attendees about childhood tuberculosis.
Tiffany Tagbo and daughter (Oklahoma City, OK): “I love being together in person! Because of COVID, we’ve been used to doing things online. It’s a completely different feel when you can just reach out and actually touch your fellow volunteer and have that camaraderie.”
Mark Coats, Austin, TX: “This type of event is important for RESULTS advocates to get together, talk, and share ideas. They get invigorated. They get all excited about doing stuff and then they charge off and do them.”
At the end of the day, Cynthia Levin (standing, in red) led a breathing exercise during her session on building bridges and the power of advocacy.
It was a packed day for the attendees, and it closed out with more pastries and a discussion of next steps and take-aways. Many advocates stated how grateful they were to be together in-person.
Attendees eventually made their way back outside to the raging sunshine with new learnings to consider, new connections made, and some connections deepened. A few weeks later, several media pieces advocates wrote during the event were even published by local newspapers!