Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My First Lobby Day

By Amira Rebihic, YWCA Clark County Volunteer

In October of 2014, I sat down with my advisor at WSUV and discussed my options for helping others while learning more about local communities and populations. I received a huge packet full of organizations that offer volunteer programs, and YWCA stuck out to me. After contacting Lauren Sheridan, I got in touch with my current supervisor Ariella, and decided it was a great fit. Never would I have imagined that I would get to do a lot more than one-on-one help with participants.

Annette, Amir and Hoda representing YWCA in Olympia.
On March 19th 2015, I was lucky enough to attend Lobby Day in Olympia, WA. Alongside five very dedicated and passionate women from YWCA Clark County, I met with District 17’s Senator Don Benton and two representatives, Lynda Wilson and Paul Harris. Initially when I heard about the trip, I was under the impression I would be going to engage in a peaceful protest of some kind and/or make phone calls to raise awareness of domestic violence. Oh boy was I in for a ride! After three hours of training led by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I ended up sitting in the offices of the respective Senator and representatives, engaging in conversations that dug deeper than simply telling them where we come from and that we need funding. Thankfully, they all supported our cause and understood the importance of the daily work that is done at both our office and shelter, and most of their opinions are reflected in their votes.

Just a few months ago, I myself was ignorant to just how unfortunately prevalent domestic violence is in our area. At one YWCA location, over 13,000 hotline calls were made. Being a part of a team that focuses on not just helping survivors of DV, but does their best to educate our youth and empower women to prevent it is truly a privilege. I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend Lobby Day and talk to the people who ultimately keep our programs running – all the constituents who take their own time and energy to help others regain their identity and confidence.

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