Every year, Capitol Hill Day offers a time for advocates of ending homelessness to sit down with their Senators and Representatives and discuss pressing and pertinent issues regarding homelessness. In doing so, it also provides another great opportunity – a chance for these passionate advocates to come together and have their voices heard. This year, those voices were heard as loudly as ever before – advocates from 40 states and Guam held over 215 meetings with Congressional offices, and the results are still pouring in! With every additional meeting, the value and effectiveness of Hill Day 2010 increase that much more. We’ll do a follow-up blog post in a few weeks once we have finalized all of the results. In its decades-long existence, Hill Day’s track record of spreading knowledge, creating awareness, and igniting political movement clearly demonstrates just how powerful a tool it has been.
This year, Hill Day became even stronger.
Take the story of our advocates from Maine as an example. Six years ago, before our current group was involved, the Maine Congressional Delegation was largely unaware and unconcerned with homelessness issues. However, in the years since the Maine advocates have been active in Hill Day events, several Members of Congress from the state, including both Senators, have become champions of the issue. Thanks to our State Captains and Hill Day Participants, stories like this one are becoming more common across the nation with each passing year. Given the similar stories from other states and the great numbers from this year, Hill Day 2010 is proving to be an historically successful year.
At a personal level, my experiences as a first time organizer of Capitol Hill Day were both memorable and educational. To see weeks of coordination and planning with State Captains come together was special, as was the chance to see so many hours of work translating into influence on federal policymaking. Moreover, getting to meet, in person, the men and women whom I had been e-mailing and calling incessantly (we called it “gentle nudging”) in the lead-up to the conference was wonderful. It is not often that I get to meet people so passionate about a cause as unselfish as ending homelessness. Thanks in large part to the efforts of these advocates, Capitol Hill Day 2010 was a great success.