Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Mom Shares About Lobby Day

August 18, 2014
"Lobby Mommy!!"
By Faith Yesner

It was April of 2009, seven months after my daughter was diagnosed with anorexia, when I first stepped out of my life of "politically ignorant bliss" and onto Capitol Hill as a lobbyist for the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC). Before that day, I didn't know what a lobbyist actually did!!  In fact, until I actually lobbied...until I took my first step into the office of my Representative (heart pounding, hands shaking), I never imagined how empowering and satisfying lobbying would be! Of course, before that day, I had no reason to get “all political" or even marginally involved in what I just didn't "get." I was your middle class mom of 2 easy going kids, one in college and one in HS, focused on college apps and auditioning for my finally flourishing acting career!

Life came to a screeching halt with the anorexia diagnosis, and devastation ensued for our family. I was barely functional from shock, fear and depression. I was full of rage at what this disease was doing to my family and more so, to my beautiful daughter. In addition to that, I had to battle insurance for coverage even when it was medically necessary and urgent, and advocate constantly to keep my daughter from falling through many treatment cracks. As I educated myself about eating disorders, treatment protocols, lack of fair and necessary insurance coverage, and lack of educational programs and info about this deadly disease, it was evident that the system was terribly flawed.   It was also evident that many battling eating disorders were, in fact, falling through the cracks and suffering terrible consequences.

Now I had a reason to become "all political"!!

When the opportunity arose for me to use my tired, angry, frustrated, heartbroken voice in a concrete way that could promote change, I jumped...onto a train from Philadelphia to the Hill (Capitol Hill), alone and nervous, to my first EDC Lobby day!!! Even as an actress with no fear of public speaking, I was scared!! This was the unknown, but considering what I had to face when the once unknown anorexia reared its ugly head, this was a piece of cake.

We had a training session the morning of lobby day and rehearsed what we were going to say to our Members of Congress and their staff. A team leader organized it all and anchored the team, so we never felt alone. Once we hit the Hill and headed towards our arranged meetings, the excitement grew! As we met our Representatives and Senators, I began to see just how powerful a Mom's voice can be. When a mom speaks, they listen...intently. Because they are human too. Because most have suffered some heartache, or have children of their own and "there but for the Grace of God go they." When you bring humanity, and a passionate mom, into the world of "
politics as usual," something happens. We catch the attention of those that hold the political power and that is the start of change!

Moms have been the catalysts for change in many political arenas. Don't mess with a mama lioness!!! She is relentless! She is a lobby mommy, and she will roar!!

I hope to see you at the MOM march and lobby day this coming Sept/Oct!!!


Alyson said...

Thank you Faith - this is a powerful description of why and how and what. And you are SO right - MOMS are the most powerful advocates! They beat out celebrities, and professionals, and educators (unless of course, they know it personally).....they speak from first hand heart. ROAR!

Becky said...

Thank you Faith for using your voice to speak out and help change the way our government addresses eating disorders.

I look forward to seeing you there as we all raise our voices together and stop the silence that feeds the lingering stigma around these deadly brain illnesses.

Becky Henry
Founder, Hope Network for Eating Disorders

Jennifer Denise Ouellette said...

Thank you for your inspiring words, Faith! I can't wait to experience it for myself.