The devastation in North and South Carolina this past week from Hurricane Florence is catastrophic. At the conclusion of this blog are links to donate and help the victims. Our prayers continue to be with them and the brave first responders, utility workers and volunteers helping those in desperate need.
Watching the events unfold, and as a 20+ year Floridian who’s been through Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Matthew and Irma, reminded me of how important it is to be prepared. And even though some events surpass what anyone can prepare for, doing what we can to minimize the effects can make the difference in how quickly we recover.
So what could this possibly have to do with advocacy? EVERYTHING!! The lessons learned through advance preparation can be the difference between success and failure when the legislative session begins.
Here’s the comparison:
Hurricanes: For starters, when the hurricane season begins, there’s ample opportunities and advice from experts about reviewing your supplies, making sure you have working flashlights, radio, enough batteries, etc. Even if a storm never strikes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Advocacy: Each year, you know when the session will begin. Which means there’s lots time in the preceding months to examine your past advocacy efforts to see if they worked/are still working. If not…then you still have ample opportunities to try something different and create a new advocacy plan.
Hurricanes: With today’s technology and advanced warning systems, storms are on the radar (and the news) weeks before they actually make landfall. Which means you can prepare well in advance…not risking the last-minute rush to stock up on supplies, cash, gasoline, water, food and whatever else you may need. Waiting may actually mean there’s nothing left and you’ll just have to “make do”.
Advocacy: Once again, you know when session (and even interim committee weeks) will occur each year. Which means there’s plenty of time to engage lawmakers well before they head up to Tallahassee. One of their best pieces of advice is to meet with them while they’re back home in the district instead of waiting until the last minute to bring forward your issues or trying to build a relationship.
Why? Because waiting doesn’t work. Other advocates will have already made the effort. Which means there may not be any time, bill slots, or appropriations requests left for you and you’ll just have to “make do” and hope for the best outcome.
So don’t wait until the last minute and expect things to go your way. Be diligent and engaged about building relationships with lawmakers all year. Then stay informed and keep them informed, so not only you but THEY are prepared to address your issues when the legislative session begins.
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF HURRICAN FLORENCE
- The Salvation Army
- The American Red Cross
- Habitat for Humanity
- North Shore Animal League (no-kill animal shelter that rescues stray/abandoned animals, including those found during and after natural disasters)
Thank you for your generosity.
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy