Lobby Day 2013: Thoughts from our members

Yesterday, 210 ONE members stormed Capitol Hill for Lobby Day, attending nearly 175 meetings with members of Congress to urge them to protect our life-saving programs for the world’s poorest people. Lobby Day is the crown jewel of the the 2013 ONE Power Summit. After three days of learning about ONE’s issues, sharing best practices and hearing from changemakers like John Podesta and Cleve Jones, these ONE members were ready to put their activism to the test.

I had a chance to go on the Florida delegation – my home state – with 5 top volunteers, and it was an incredible, unforgettable learning experience. But I know I’m not the only one who felt that way. Check out this collection of Lobby Day anecdotes, quotes and photos from our ONE volunteers that I put together from yesterday’s events.

Illinois:

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Group outside of Senator Mark Kirk’s office. Photo credit: Kate Coleman.

Oregon:

Craig Rottman, Congressional District Leader (CDL), OR-1

“We told a story about why we were a member of ONE to give context to our own visits. But the thing that lifted me up, that gave me the strength to speak clearly and forcefully, was knowing my voice represented the voices of tens of thousands of people I will never meet, marginalized from the world and our greater human family…we spoke for them and it was a privilege and an honor.”

Carolyn Barber, OR-1

“I feel so privileged to walk up to the steps of the Capitol, look my elected officials in the eyes and speak on behalf of people who have no voice – people living in tragic circumstances. It was an honor to represent them and to take action on their behalf. I hope that in sharing ONE’s story that we can end TB, malaria and AIDS in our lifetime – hopefully our elected officials will choose to support the less than 1 percent of the budget that will make this happen!”

Washington State:

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Geoff Patrick and Sharnessa Sanden, WA-3 at the office of Representative Jim McDermott. Photo credit: Geoff Patrick.

Sharnessa Sanden, WA-3

“Being on the Hill again this year was an overwhelming reminder that what we do matters, that our time matters, that our efforts matter, that our voices – EACH of ours individually and collectively – matter. That rising up and ‘storming the Hill’ together with the same voice is impacting in an epic way, the lives of the beautiful ‘least of these’. Absolutely inspiring and overwhelmingly humbling.”

Geoff Patrick, CDL WA-07

“It’s easy for people to look at the problems of extreme poverty and feel helpless. With ONE, it’s easy to take action and feel empowered by what passionate advocates can do. To experience coming together for justice, compassion and core American values that cannot get lost among the politics of the sequester. The 2013 ONE Power Summit was a chance to ensure members of congress heard loud and clear that the values that define our country must be upheld.”

Montana:

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ONE Member Hannah Stiff. 

Pennsylvania:

Jordan Hinds, PA

2 million children die each year from pneumonia or diarrhea. When you hear something like that, most people say, “that’s terrible. Someone should do something about that.” The 210 ONE Campaign volunteers who stormed Capitol Hill yesterday are those “someones”. When I met with my state policy makers yesterday, I began by explaining why I joined the ONE Campaign 7 years ago. I quoted Mahatma Gandhi by saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I was shocked by the absurdity of extreme poverty and I wanted to take action. Now I am at our Nations Capitol trying to sustain the proven programs that save millions of lives every year.
The Power Summit was a great experience. I found every session to be engaging and interesting. In particular, the message Cleve Jones orated was inspiring and captivating. It gave us a personal insight on the fight against HIV/preventable disease and the importantance for funding these vital programs. After the sessions, I was ready to take on Capitol Hill!

I met with Pennsylvania state senators, Pat Toomey and Bob Casey. I also met with my Congressional District Representative, Mike Doyle. I made my message clear. We are American citizens and the voice of extreme poverty. I said, “You may never look into eyes of the people you save, but you can look into our eyes. We are here to speak up for those who cannot.” We also were approached by Senator John McCain who thanked us for you our work. No matter who you voted for, I was impressed and found this act to be a very classy move as he was the only non-Pennsylvanian to recognize us. The ONE Campaign prepared us to be a leaders in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. It is my hope that my state representatives were just inspired to do the same.

New Jersey:

Eusun Kim, Regional Field Leader, NJ

“As the notion of the sequester is a result of split indecision, so the feelings on Lobby Day were a bit bipolar: mixed with cold, hard truths sprinkled with dashes of hope. New Jersey is typically preaching to the choir, on issues that ONE supports, yet with blunt honesty the asks were largely dismissed. The hope was clearly seen in the enthusiasm and growing audacity of our college volunteers in being able to speak with clarity and purpose. At the end of the day, seeds were dispersed, relationships were forged and regardless of budget cuts, we left with hope in doing the work we love.”

Washington, D.C.:

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ONE members preparing to “storm the Hill” whilst braving the storm hitting D.C. Photo credit: Daniel Chick

Georgia:

Kristi York Wooten, GA

“After several years of advocating for the world’s poorest people both in-district in Georgia and on the Hill in Washington, I have to say that this ONE Summit trip produced the best meetings we’ve ever had. I’ve had the privilege of working with the amazing ONE Congressional District Leader Nancy Bauer since 2005 and have enjoyed getting to know new powerhouse CDL Luna Searles this past year. Add superstar Iraq veteran Anisa Palmer to the mix, and together the four of us made a fantastic team. Although we are so lucky to have Senator Johnny Isakson as a stalwart trusted ally in the fight against global poverty, we were pleasantly surprised by the reactions we received from the staff of Senator Saxby Chambliss and Representatives Price and Collins. All agreed to consider and sign our letter ask to work with Senators Graham and Leahy on the foreign assistance budget. The highlight of the day, though, was the private meeting we had with Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis in his office. He’d already written letters to his fellow members of Congress urging them to protect the 150 account, and then gave us an unforgettable photo opp on the balcony with the Capitol dome as a backdrop.”

wooten1Senator John Isakson poses with ONE Members after his speech at the Lobby Commencement. Photo Credit: Kristi York Wooten

New York:

Ruby Thomas, CDL-NY

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 Ruby and Cleve Jones, one of the Summit’s distinguished speakers. Photo Credit: Ruby Thomas

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas K.Gandhi.

ONE-NY was excited to be in DC this week with fellow ONE campaign leaders from across the nation for our annual ONE Summit, where we lobbied for the world’s poorest. However, we were a bit nervous this year with the pending sequester and the potential across the board cuts, which would affect the 0.6 percent allocated from the GDP to programs such as The Global Fund for AIDS/TB/Malaria, GAVI and Feed the Future, programs we’ve been fighting for about 10 years.

In the same tradition of previous summits, this year was also packed with an abundant array of distinguished speakers to educate and prepare us for our lobby day. They included Cleve Jones, the renowned AIDS activist and creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt; directors of Product Red, Global Fund, Peace Corps and CARE; John Podesta, from the UN High Level Panel; Senators Coons, Isakson, and Johanns and the dynamic panel trio of Dee Dee Myers,Ginny Wolfe and Matt Schlapp.

There was also an opportunity for ONE leaders to purchase beautiful handmade ONE infinity scarfs which create sustainable business for women in Africa.You can purchase one too at livefashionable.com! (See scarf I’m wearing while standing with the great Cleve Jones).

Despite the cold rain and windy conditions, lobby day on the Hill was full of energy with over 200 ONE leaders from across the nation meeting with our respective members of Congress in the House and Senate. On behalf of the 126,000 ONE-NY members including Deborah Sable, Chelsea Davis and myself, we would like to thank the offices of NY State senators Schumer and Gillibrand and congress members Israel and Tonko for meeting with us and supporting ONE.

We would like to especially thank our ONE Champion, Congresswoman Nita Lowey for her passion, dedication and strong support for ONE and our mission to eradicate deaths from extreme poverty and preventable disease. Her unrelenting championship and bipartisan work ethic have significantly contributed to the fight against global poverty. Thank you! We here at ONE-NY are hoping that our lobbying efforts are successful and we look forward to continuing our fight for the world’s poorest and providing a voice for them! We are so proud to be part of ONE!

Celebrating success on the Hill:

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ONE Members pose for photograph after a successful day of lobbying. Photo Credit: one.org

We received a tremendous amount of inspirational thoughts and ideas from ONE members and we are endlessly thankful for their time and dedication.

Don’t see your story in here? Share it with us in a comment below!