A few weeks ago, a friend tagged me in a post on Facebook. The purpose of the FB post was to see how many likes and comments she could get, and each of those translated into $1 or $2, respectively, to be donated toward a charity that helps others. That person would then tag 10 people to do the same. I was one of the tagged.
I participated in the challenge, but I chose to split the total amount between dollars donated and calls made, since I believe calls help sometimes just as much as money.
My total was 143 (a combination of likes at 1 point each and comments at 2 points, and I included the comments I wrote back to my friends), so I rounded up to 144 and donated $72 to the ACLU and pledged to make 72 phone calls over the following few weeks.
In preparation for my calls, I armed myself with a handwritten list of representatives’ numbers for both their DC and local offices, a list of topics I wanted to discuss, and a pen and paper to keep a tally.
Each day as I read through the news I would find something else to talk about, or to look into further. I was obsessed with making sure I was up to date on the confirmation hearings and nominations and what was happening what day.
The first week I made 19 phone calls to various representatives and senators about a variety of things. I called each of their offices each day. Some calls were brief and to the point. “I’m calling from zip code 12345 with a message for the Senator, asking he oppose/support HR 123.” Some were rambling and full of questions.
The second week I made 17 calls. Some of these were to people not in my state. I still have strong ties to the state I grew up in so I called the reps there to let them know I supported the things they were doing (like Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez) – even though I’m not able to vote for them.
The third week I made 19 calls. As I got further into making these calls, I learned some things and found I had even more questions. Does calling even make a difference? (Yes, it does – every issue gets passed along to the senator/rep at their weekly meetings.) What about emails? Do those get read? (Yes, they do, but if it’s a timely matter make sure you call.) Some of these calls were to people like Bernie Sanders to leave him a message letting him know I appreciated his recent speech or vote or whatever it was that he did to support those who aren’t being supported by this administration.
The fourth week I had to take a mental break. I was reading a LOT of news, and if you’ve been reading the same news as I have, it’s not all that positive. I’ve also reaffirmed that I am indeed a sponge for emotion, and in reading all of the awful things that were happening I found I was a bit down myself. Having a few days off from calling (and thus not keeping up with the daily happenings either) was necessary. Though I DID make 3 calls late that Friday afternoon because I just couldn’t stay away…
The week after that, week 5 since the administration took office, I finished up my 72 pledged calls.
Then I made another pledge.
Not to stop.
Yesterday I made my 100th phone call to my representatives. 100 times I have reached out since January 20th about legislation, executive orders, and other situations that were making me concerned for the well-being of our future.
I have learned quite a bit about the process of what it takes to make your voice effective and heard.
I am a more informed voter, citizen of this country, and human being.
And I’m just getting started.