Many people have strong opinions about how things should operate — including governmental programs — but how does one ensure that his or her voice will be heard by those in power?
An Advocacy 101 workshop has been scheduled for noon Thursday in Mount Airy to help answer that question.
The “lunch and learn” event will be held in the conference room of the Surry County Senior Center on Jones School Road, in partnership with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging. Lunch will be free for participants, who are asked to sign up for the workshop in advance.
It is aimed at teaching them the do’s and don’ts of advocacy, which is defined as the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea or policy, and showing active support for that.
The workshop will stress the point that “what you say matters,” although citizens sometimes think they are powerless in a complex, fast-moving world — which might especially be the case with the senior population.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” observed Annalisa Davis, director of L.H. Jones Family Resource Center, where the Surry Senior Center is housed. “If we act together, if we are unafraid to speak truth to power and we are persistent, positive change can come for our seniors.”
Older adults who are concerned about the future of programs such as Social Security or Medicare, for example, need to speak out, senior supporters say.
“It’s important that seniors learn how to stand up and fight for their benefits,” Davis said Monday of how the upcoming workshop can help.
“If something is being taken away, they need to advocate to get it back.”
The key, according to Davis, is to speak out, and do so effectively, which will be a focus of Thursday’s workshop — part of an ongoing mission by the Surry Senior Center to make sure citizens’ voices are heard.
“If you wish to express your thoughts or opinions on any local, state or federal issue affecting your life but you are uncertain how to proceed, the answer is as close as your senior center,” Davis added.
Advocacy can include writing, calling and voting.
“We have constantly updated lists of local, county, state and federal elected officials, including their names, addresses, e-mails (when available) and office phone numbers. You can pick up a copy at the center, or we can mail or e-mail you a copy. Then write your letter or e-mail, make your phone call or schedule a meeting with the official you need.”
Given that there’s power in numbers, Davis provided information showing that Surry County has nearly 29,000 seniors, who collectively carry much clout.
“But we must speak,” she stressed. “Don’t be timid — it’s your right as a citizen to be heard.”
Davis referenced a quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead to emphasize how individuals can make a difference: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Those interested in signing up for the workshop should contact Annalisa Davis at 336-786-6155, extension 222, or [email protected]
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.