By Kristi Wood, MSW, APSW
A few years ago, I was scooping up my daily mail and was about to throw most of it into the recycling bin, when an envelope from the U.S. Senate caught my eye. Was this junk mail? On this rare occasion, it was not. I had sent an email to my U.S. Senator, Tammy Baldwin, and she had responded, thanking me for contacting her. When I had sent the email, a small part of me wondered if my message would matter.
I have since then sent multiple emails to both Senator Baldwin and my U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, and each time they have responded. I know that they are listening to us, and that they support the social work profession. I am very grateful for that.
Many of us may wonder if it is worth our time to make a certain effort. I can answer with certainty that every effort is worth it. The state of Kentucky is a prime example. Their legislature was not about to accept Medicaid expansion, yet the people spoke and demanded it. As a result, Medicaid expansion in their state has improved their entire economy and allowed expanded health insurance coverage for many Kentuckians who could not otherwise afford it. We have a lot of work to do in order to make this happen in Wisconsin, even though we have Kentucky and thirty-two other states as proof that it would benefit everyone in our state.
Prior to being added to the NASW list serve, I was quite nervous to contact my legislators. Would I have to call them and talk to them personally? What if I fumble the message? I don’t want to sound like an idiot. Many of my social work students feel the same way. Sometimes we just need a gentle nudge to make a small effort that can make a big impact. I have watched my students attend NASW-WI Advocacy Day with immense nervousness, only to end the day incredibly inspired and motivated to do more.
Collectively, we can make a significant impact by contacting our legislators. NASW makes it incredibly easy for NASW members! Here is how simple it is:
1) Go to the NASW website and click on Support the Profession
2) Click on Legislative Alerts
3) Click on the issue you would like to contact your legislators about
4) Fill in your contact information
You just sent a letter to your U.S. Senator and Representative!
You can save your information for even quicker future actions.
Current issues you can advocate for include social worker safety, reimbursement, gun violence, and protections for immigrant children. NASW does the homework for us; all we have to do is make a few clicks. Take a few moments to make a big difference today!
Stay warm, and don’t forget to practice good self-care every day, even for just a short while.
With immense gratitude for the work you do every day,
Kristi Wood, MSW, CAPSW