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Our Annual Meeting and Fundraiser is coming up quickly! The meeting will be held on July 9, 2022 at 9:30 am at the Makoy Center, 5462 Center Street in Hilliard. We are also offering the opportunity to join via Zoom at a discounted price. Tickets for the in-person event must be purchased by July 1 at 9:00 am; tickets for the Zoom meeting can be purchased through July 8th. We will also be selling raffle tickets at the event for the chance to win a pen & ink print of the historic Toledo & Ohio Central Depot at Columbus, OH, or a limited print Amtrak Lake Shore Limited poster. Raffle tickets will be sold for $2 each or three for $5. If you would prefer to pay at the door, please let us know so that we can include you in our headcount. You can register by clicking here.

This is an event you will not want to miss! Our keynote speaker this year is the Railroad Passenger’s Association Board Chair Meredith Richards. Meredith has a long history in rail advocacy and community involvement, including serving on the Charlottesville City Council and numerous public boards and commissions. She was the driving force in the creation of the Lynchburg Northeast Regional train. The founder and chair of the Piedmont Rail Coalition, she mobilized political jurisdictions, stakeholders, and citizens throughout the US29 corridor in a successful campaign to bring Virginia’s first state-supported intercity passenger train to the corridor.

As a member of the Virginia Governor’s Commission on Rail Enhancement for the 21st Century and president of the Virginia Transit Association, Meredith began over twenty years of advocacy for dedicated state funding for passenger rail, culminating in Virginia’s launch of a $4 billion program of rail initiatives in 2019. She is president of the Virginia Rail Policy Institute and a former president and current co-chair of Virginians for High-Speed Rail. She joined the Board of Directors of the Rail Passengers Association in 2020 and was elected Chair in 2022.

Also speaking at the meeting are Thea Walsh, a 17-year public servant focused on transportation, economic development, and community planning who serves as the Transportation and Infrastructure Director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission; Navy and Army veteran State Representative Haraz N. Ghanbari, who is currently in his first term representing 3rd House District and is a strong supporter of expanded public transit access; and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who represents Ohio's Ninth Congressional District and is currently the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives and ranks among the most senior members of the 117th Congress.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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This column discusses my personal beliefs and perspectives on advocacy which is a key part of the role of All Aboard Ohio. For some, this concept and resulting activity may be a new experience. For many like myself, it may reveal a history of lifelong personal and professional activity ingrained in your soul.

But, let’s cover one basic issue. What is advocacy? As defined by Webster dictionary, “advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal: the act or process of advocating.”

My personal and professional experience over the last 40-plus years has molded me into the “advocate” that you see today. With a brief personal history let me share my “advocacy journey” and why it matters.

In my early nursing career, I interviewed for a position as a Public

Relations Ambassador at my local hospital and was one of two chosen to fulfill that role to advocate for the hospital with new hires during orientation and the general public during scheduled tours. Fast forward 19 years and I was chosen by my neighbors to lead our neighborhood group I founded, the Blanchard Township PEARLS (Protectors of Everyone’s American Rural LifeStyle) to lead our battle against a proposed stone quarry and to defend our families, homes, health, and voter-approved zoning. Besides handling the public relations and media blitz for almost 7 years I testified at the Ohio Statehouse dozens of times on zoning and related bills involving the aggregate industry. I knew I had to represent everyone fairly and equally regardless of our religious, political, or other differences and I always tried to stress the “common good and good for all” motto. Our case was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court twice in 2006 and set legal precedent in the Third District Court of Appeals. This propelled my political career as the first female township trustee in Hardin County. I ran for Hardin County Commissioner in 2008 and 2010 always stressing my message of the “common good and good for all.” Vowing to always serve all of my constituents equally whether they voted for me or not. I simultaneously became involved in the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership serving just over 10 years on their board and serving as Vice President and President because I realized how important clean water is for everyone, including the residents, businesses, and future economic development. ( Another common ground message) I was nominated to serve on All Aboard Ohio in 2012 because I was one of just several township trustees in the entire state to attend local and regional meetings in support of the original 3-C effort under former Governor Strickland. Again, determining the benefits of passenger rail and mass transit as well as all of the beliefs in the indirect benefits were and are a “common ground” issue.

But, in all of this effort and advocacy, I learned an important fact. There is strength in numbers. Whether it’s motivating the morale of co-workers, uniting neighbors, gaining the support of the electorate, or garnering the support of those who value your issues like clean water or passenger rail, we must unite! A handful of board members can make a tiny squeak to the politicians and media but united with our membership, friends, neighbors, sister agencies, like-minded groups, and social media followers we can be a force to reckoned with. We can be loud and influential! We can ROAR!

So, in closing, please remember we need YOU to help advocate for passenger rail and mass transit, in particular, the Amtrak Connect Five Corridor initiative. The more people that contact Governor DeWine, their legislators in both the Ohio House and Senate, ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), and the ORDC (Ohio Rail Development Commission) the better for OUR CAUSE, OUR ADVOCACY!

There is strength in numbers. Two quotes from my late father-in-law, a WWII vet, and purple heart recipient always motivate me. First, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Second, “a lot of little fleas can make a big dog pretty miserable.”

Remember, we can’t do this alone. We need YOU! So, let’s get busy with those calls, emails, or letters.

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National Train Day made a comeback this year and All Aboard Ohio was there for it! Approximately 5,000 people turned out for the return of the event for the first time since 2019. Check our some photos of the event below!

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