Making the Call

Jos G. Linn, RESULTS Domestic Outreach Organizer
May 20, 2011

Just a little reminder about taking those opportunities when they come along. This morning, my wife was listening to Iowa Public Radio on the way to work and heard that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) would be on their lunchtime call-in show. Being the conscientious spouse of an advocate, she immediately called me to let me know.

Now I had expected a quiet day at the office. And I must admit I was not jumping for joy at the news. Despite doing this work for over 5 years now, I can still get intimidated at these encounters. Today was one of those days. I had some good excuses going too:  I have too much work to do — the radio doesn’t work in my office — I’ll never get through to the station. But one thing RESULTS has taught me is that my excuses are pretty lame. And worse, when I give in to them, they hang around and taunt me mercilessly like an obnoxious Broncos fan (Go Chiefs!).

So to avoid a weekend of feeling lousy, I called the show. I was evidently the first caller (so much for not getting through). I introduced myself and said I was with RESULTS and then asked the Senator about funding for Head Start and child care in the 2012 budget.  After criticizing House plans to severely cut low-income programs, Sen. Harkin said he was going to do whatever he could to make sure we don’t cut these lifelines for people who “are just trying to life a middle class life.” A mere two minutes of my time and surprise, surprise! My head didn’t explode.

One minute after I hung up, I got an e-mail from a colleague who advocates for CAP agencies in Iowa, many of which run Head Start and child care programs, thanking me for asking the question. Sen. Harkin’s legislative director e-mailed me too and said the same. Now I was feeling pretty good. Take that Broncos.

So I say all this because we all know advocacy work is hard sometimes. And that extra little action can occasionally feel like the straw breaking the camel’s back. But in the end, these little things do matter. A two minute phone call on a radio show does make a difference. Being passionate about your advocacy around others does make a difference (ask my wife). And being in RESULTS, which taught me to pick up the phone today at lunch, does make a difference.

So when that little voice inside your head starts telling you your work won’t matter, just say Go Chiefs! and do it anyway.