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.