North Shore United Way\’s “A” for Advocacy

When we think of advocacy we may think of marching up to the capitol in Springfield, signage in hand, with a catchy chant against budget cuts. We may pose the question: what effort in advocacy creates meaningful impact? How do we get the attention of a legislator–and make our voice heard? Here at North Shore United Way, we didn’t make the trip to Springfield but we are making our voices heard. Earlier this month, we visited Congressman Robert Dold’s office to discuss important issues affecting our area and his constituents in the 10th District. Lorelei Beaucaire (North Shore United Way Chief Professional Officer), Jack Kaplan (Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for UWMC & UW of Illinois) and I sat down with Congressman Dold’s District Representative, Eric Miller. Lorelei, Jack and I shared our stance on the charitable tax deduction (Congress is considering tax law changes that would reduce giving to charities!), as well as the work of our local United Way. We highlighted LIVE UNITED 2020 and education issues in one of our United Way Partner Communities, Highland Park/Highwood. We also discussed our work in the areas of income and health, and how that ties into the regional effort to improve the lives of children and families across our region. In our conversation, I could start to see how the lines DO connect, how our three issue areas coalesce naturally to form a platform of critical support for families across our region. This is something that resonated with Congressman Dold’s staff — they wanted to know how we are caring about the well being of children and families in the 10th District. In the course of one meeting, we saw the real common thread — GIVE. ADVOCATE.VOLUNTEER. — all come together. The Congressman’s staff said they had never realized the significant force United Way has as a community partner and convener of social services-and that they definitely want to be a part of our movement. As we move forward in this new relationship, we will seek opportunities of engagement at all levels-leveraging resources, bridging community partners, and most of all, sharing positive change in the community. We are ALL a part of this change. Advocacy is about voice, about a stance, and most of all, a message that stands by strong, commitment, and intent for the common good. Posted on behalf of Jessica Vlahogiannis, Program Manager at North Shore United Way.

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