100 Miles an Hour

Hannah Winters, an intern with NHPCO’s Communications team, hails from Indiana and attends Ball State University. She joined her fellow Hoosiers at the Advocacy Intensive. Below are Hannah’s reflection’s on the day.

100 miles per hour – that’s how fast a member of Congress moves. From the sound of their alarm clock to the time their head hits the pillow, their hours are spent in meetings, committees, and completing tasks that line up back to back to back. Congress members and staff are required to have the highest level of focus, efficiency, dedication, and perseverance each day during session. So how do we, as their constituents, effectively present our message, our goal, and our mission to them in a timely manner? Throughout my experience at the Hospice Action Network Advocacy Intensive of 2017, I was able to find out the answer to this question.

Yesterday, with five of my fellow Indiana constituents, I went to six different congressional offices to meet with members of Congress and their legislative staff. Throughout each meeting, I realized the importance of effective communication. I discovered what it means to strategically catch Congressmen, or the staffer’s attention by leaving a lasting impression with my own personal stories about hospice. Sharing my story and hearing the story of fellow Indianans, we were able to put personal meaning behind the legislation.

Each meeting, we came in with the goal of receiving the member’s support for specific hospice legislation. My group focused on sharing the Patient Choice and Quality Care Act and the Rural Access to Hospice Act because my group felt their patients’ care could be improved if these bills were passed. In hopes of making a meaningful connection with the members and staffers, my group shared their hospice to display the direct impact these bills. All of the stories were shared using a personal and emotional lens. I think many people forget that Congressmen, their staffers, are emotional human beings who have their own experiences with death and dying. During these meetings, I found targeting our message through an emotional appeal by presenting the facts alongside our story allowed us to conduct an effective constituent meeting with our Congressmen. I am incredibly grateful for my experience yesterday. I was able to hear moving stories while learning about and understanding legislative issues pertaining to hospice. Due to my time in Congressional meetings yesterday, I now feel confident in knowing how to have a constituent meeting with my Congressmen where my concerns are heard and addressed. Thanks to the HAN Advocacy Intensive, I now am able to catch the attention of a Congressmen whose day is flying by at 100 miles an hour.