As a grassrooter, some days can bring frustration when reaching out to connect like-minded people with one another. Not just through social media, although an effective tool to communicate to a large audience quickly, but heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind. This affinity for each other is built by sharing our time and our lives as we roll towards a common goal of equal rights for people with disabilities.
This week during Roll on Capitol Hill our trust and respect for one another, along with our shared frustration of the inequalities experienced by all, galvanized our community to a new level of strength and capacity. One hundred members of United Spinal Association (including National Spinal Cord Association, UsersFirst, and VetsFirst), representing 35 states, came together to speak directly with our elected officials. This week, without a doubt, was very successful.
As grassrooters, we recognize the impressive accomplishments of attending 200 Hill visits, the presence of Senator John McCain at our reception along with other Representatives, staffers and a personal letter from Bob Dole read aloud. We also recognize we are exponentially stronger because of our resilience and commitment to make positive change for people with disabilities. With every phone call, email and each personal connection our message becomes viral, touching and mobilizing many.
We understand there are essential elements (steps of success) that have helped build our momentum. We are part of a historic disability organization, United Spinal Association that is committed to building and sustaining a strong grassroots effort along with the support from a DC-based policy department. We are part of the grassroots effort embracing all people who use wheelchairs and people who care that all Americans have the right to move freely in their communities. We are a peer-to-peer organization run by people with disabilities providing “on-the-ground” services along with advocacy. We are a service organization AND an advocacy organization. We build and sustain community. With this amazing community we are united and mobilized – that is success.
The passion generated from the DC trip will further fuel our efforts to continue developing chapters and support groups, increase communication throughout our programs, create education materials to foster membership, and follow-up on every meeting and every conversation to strengthen our relationships with our Representatives’ DC offices AND their local offices.
From here we continue to serve our community and advocate for policies, (federal, state and private), that enhance the lives of our members. We are strong, connected, educated and mobilized – that is success.
Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP
VP Community Initiatives
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association