This is HUGE and must be shared with all… Many of us have just received the following news from NASW:
“Thank you for everyone’s support this weekend! I wanted to let you know that our bill, AB 2167, the Social Worker Loan Repayment Act, got out of committee on a unanimous vote on Tuesday morning, the day after our lobby day in the Capitol. During the hearing, Assemblymember Fiona Ma remarked that she had been visited by our group on Monday and she was impressed by their knowledge and they convinced her of the need for the bill! Congratulations to everyone for their successful legislative visits and a special shout out to team Ma!
The bill will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will be heard on April 28th. “
Monday morning, we were up early for our appointments with California Representatives- finally! This year, I had the opportunity to be a Team Leader. Being leader was a such a valuable experience for my personal growth, and it was an honor to guide my future colleagues while doing work that I am so passionate about. Together we met in the office of Assemblymember and Majority Floor Leader Charles Calderon where we had the opportunity to advocate and educate on bills that ultimately affect all of our clientele. Afterward, we met with hundreds of other social workers for a rally on the steps of the Capitol. The more it rained, the louder we chanted- nothing could dim our dedication to social justice.
After the rally we met for lunch as students continued to trickle in and out of the restaurant for appointments, including the final meeting of the day in the Governor’s office. When we finished our meetings, we debriefed on the bus and embarked on our journey home. Alas our work was done in Sacramento, for now…
*Note: I asked Alice Xiao to write a few sentences about an encounter I witnessed between her and a senior on the way to lunch. ..
‘While walking to lunch after the rally, an older man stopped and read the sign I was holding: “Value our Seniors!” He asked, “how much am I worth?” I paused for a second and said, “Do you really want me to put a price on you?” He laughed. “Priceless!” I yelled while we continued on our respective ways.’
“Every time I have come to the Capitol, a new and different experience develops. If I can try to point out three key events of today’s learning experience, I would choose the following:
1. One can have the assumptions of the representative and how they will vote down our issue. I was wrong. Assemblyman Devore’s staff expressed that they would support the Social Work Loan Forgiveness Legislation, something I did not expect at all. There, I learned that one can still have hope that some change can happen.
2. The building of relationships not only within our program but across schools. Sitting in meetings with other students and professors was a great experience.
3. It could rain or snow on us social workers, but our passion and commitment to social justice will help us stand together and fight until the end.”
“There is something to be said about 1,000 people gathering in the rain and wind in order to fight for change. The signs bleed from the rain, our voices crack from the 100th chant. Our hearts pounding to seal the deal”. But we picket, we chant, we wait…
We cook food and hustle for funds. We role play and research for hours just for a 15-minute slot with the powers that be. We face hostile dialogues, old blood supporters, and even counters who say “yes”, but do nothing. In all of this, I realize a few things. We are here for the clients. We are here for social justice. We are here for the struggle. And we are here to win. And so help us… we’ll be back.”
“I think I was starting to feel apathetic about politics, and I would say many others are at this time. This experience gave me more of an idea of what we can do to influence our politicians, and that it is possible! A lot of us were nervous about speaking to legislators, but once we got through it, I think many of us came away more confident and inspired to get to know our legislators and build relationships with them.”
“An experience like this in diplomacy and practicing social work skills… My legislative appointment was with a self-proclaimed “proud” conservative Republican and I had to use every ounce of energy to fight back the anger and urge to argue with him regarding the implications and immediate long-term ramifications of his policy decisions on public child welfare and older adults. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic day for enlightening conversations.”
“Learning about bills and the legislative process was a very rewarding experience, but getting closer to my cohort was the highlight of the trip.”
“I am so glad I came. We had a great time together and learned about how laws are made. We also got to interact with people from other schools. Whether you are micro or macro, it is important to learn about lobbying. We will all have to advocate for our clients at some point. Looking forward to next year…”
“Attending Legislative Days is a great experience to have. As social workers, I think its important to know how the legislative process works, how the budget affects our client and ability to provide services, and the impact of lobbying on legislators. Having said this, I would say Legislative days also teaches us the importance of being flexible, remaining patient, and being to proactive to advocate on your behalf when necessary, as things do not always go as planned.”
“The most important thing that I learned by participating in lobby days is that making large scale policy change is subtle. It may not feel like you are making an enormous difference in the moment, but the fact that you are there and the people you are advocating for make it one of the most incredible experiences you can invest in. It’s all about mindset. The experience is fun and worthwhile because of the meaning of what you are doing and the people who make it possible.
Be prepared for a prepared legislator who may make your introduction redundant. Smooth political language can obscure a person’s true position and support.”
“Although my group did not have a traditional lobbying encounter I think it worked out for the best. Having the opportunity to ask a question to a MSW Assemblywoman is more than I could have hoped for. It was so inspiring for me to be able to meet a woman politics who clearly epitomizes the values of a social worker.
Nothing can beat the experience of hundreds of social workers rallying out in the rain on the steps of the capital building in Sacramento!”
We pulled into the School of Public Affairs at 9:30 pm, exactly. Legislative Days 2010, done! More to follow…
“I would say that today’s training for Legislative Days was probably one of the best trainings I’ve been to lately. Yes, I was sleepy at some points (a night out in Sacramento was a must). Yes, I was doodling on my agenda. And yes, I was worn out, hungry and grouchy at the end of the day. But I learned a lot!! And, I had many inspirational moments where I truly felt proud to be a part of the social work community.
Throughout the day, there were countless instances where I was reminded of why I love the social work profession – its commitment to social justice!! I know the training was meant to prepare us for tomorrow (which it did), but I felt it also recharged my soul. It was wonderfully refreshing to be around veteran social workers and over a thousand students committed to social change. Ah, I loved it! We cheered. We chanted “Si Se Puede”. And no joke, I got chills!”
“Running on a few hours of sleep after a night of dancing in our state’s capital made it difficult to pay attention during the training. Check in was a bit a chaotic and disappointing to find that I didn’t have an appointment for Monday! However everything did work out fine because we are meeting with Assemblywoman Yamada. At the end of the training our group had the opportunity to meet with the President of NASW, who briefed us on the assemblywoman. One of the more memorable speakers of the day was Monica Garcia from LAUSD Board President, who woke me up with motivating chants. Feeling a little nervous for tomorrow mostly because of the weather.”