“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
I found myself looking around for this quote online this morning. I was truly fortunate to have shared this past weekend with a handful of young men all in their twenties. These guys, all members of the bleeding disorders community, all selected through a competitive application process and chosen to come to DC and participate in the Federation’s first DC Intensives program. The intensives program was created with an eye towards helping to identify community advocates and providing them with the skills necessary to return to their home communities and apply lessons learned for the benefits of the larger bleeding disorders community. In the midst of media training, advocacy 101, questions about how a bill becomes a law and how the political process works, an amazing thing happened for me.
I had a wave of gratitude wash over me. How many times has someone come along and said, the whole thing is about just showing up. SHOWING UP?!? What could be simpler? But we know better. Most of us do not do politics as our full time jobs. It’s the thing we do between running with kids to ballet class or little league. Politics and advocacy fill the stolen moments of our lives.
When I first started working in the community a year and a half ago, a professional peer told me that when it comes to public policy the bleeding disorders community was exceptional because of the way it has endured and thrived in periods of crisis, but don’t ask community members to plan, because they didn’t know how. It was beyond their level of political comprehension. After watching over the past weekend, I have come to believe this well meaning friend was wrong.
I saw this weekend with my own eyes, what happens when you inspire a group of folks, willing to take up the mantle of service and provide them with the resources to succeed and the wherewithal to excel. This past weekend was critically important for the bleeding disorders community, but if nothing comes of it when these guys return to their home community– then we ALL will have failed them, and they will have failed ALL of us. That is why I will use this space on a regular basis to spotlight their work and their deeds. In doing so, I am hoping that we can celebrate a renewed commitment to grassroots political action in this community.
To these amazing gentlemen: Aaron, Christian, Chad, Justin, Paul and Robert. Thank you each for giving of your selves and your time when you didn’t have to. That if one measure of leadership. Upon behalf of the Federation and entire bleeding disorders community… we THANK YOU. I know we are all eager to see where you plan to take us as a community.