Sometimes Advocacy Isn’t a Grand GestureKelli Crawford, AL!VE Board Member and Advocacy Sub Committe
National Volunteer Week. I saw so many great examples of what my peers were doing to celebrate their volunteers that week and felt like I had failed. I wasn’t doing any of that. I was rebuilding our program behind the scenes and getting ready to recruit new volunteers for the first time since the pandemic began, but there was no drive through appreciation event, no gifts dropped off at our volunteers’ homes, not even anything posted on social media.
I shared this struggle recently in an AL!VE Board meeting and followed up during our Programs and Advocacy meeting. Adrienne Potter Yoe, CVA, a new AL!VE member who has joined our Advocacy work, said something that made me feel much better. She talked about how every year on Mother’s Day she feels guilty when she sees other people post something great about their own moms. Adrienne doesn’t post because her mom isn’t on social media but she feels the pressure to post because others are – even though not posting doesn’t mean she loves her mom any less. She also reminded us that CCVA says the best thing for our volunteers is a well-run volunteer program. It was a much needed reminder to celebrate what you are doing to support your volunteers with the time and resources you do have.
We hear a lot about the personal pressure to compare ourselves to someone else’s highlight reel. But the same can happen to us professionally. The bad thing about doing this professionally is that we see someone’s output and compare our own to it without knowing their input – budget, staffing, number of volunteers, etc. It’s a trap that is much too easy to fall into. Emilie Bromet-Bauer, CVA, leads our Advocacy work at AL!VE and literally co-wrote the chapter on advocacy for the CCVA textbook with Erin Spink. She reminded us that in order to advocate outward, we have to examine our own position and where we’re at. It’s just as self-defeating to compare your output in 2021 to your output pre-pandemic if you aren’t equipped with the same resources as before and are being asked to do more with less.
Sometimes advocacy isn’t a grand gesture. It is found in the million little things you do each day to support your volunteers and your organization. Those conversations with my colleagues at AL!VE encouraged me to step back for a minute and look at what we have been able to achieve within our volunteer program this year. They’ve also helped me articulate that in a much more positive way to leadership within my organization. All of this is at the heart of advocacy. As Emilie wisely reminded me, self care and self advocacy are both important for us to feel good about what we have done and what we are doing.
If this is a topic you are struggling with right now, I encourage you to check out the recording from our May 2021 AL!VE Academy by Alana Knoppow, MSW – Saying No to the Wrong Things So We Can Say Yes to the Right Things. Alana will help you set boundaries, learn to say no, screen requests, and practice self care. You can access it in the Members Only section of the website by clicking on Resources then File Archive.