CARE Advocates Urge Congressman LaHood to Support Foreign Assistance Programs

CARE Advocates Urge Congressman LaHood to Support Foreign Assistance Programs

3/10/17

Jaxon Rieke, a sophomore at Illinois College and president of the student organization Illinois College CARE, organized and led a group of thirteen CARE advocates  including myself in a meeting with Congressman Darin LaHood's local staff. Jaxon worked closely with Katie Kraft, our Regional Advocacy Coordinator, and Katie Brunk, our local CARE District Chair, to help set up and prepare Illinois College student advocates for our meeting.

When we arrived at Congressman LaHood’s Jacksonville office, we all took a seat to speak with Ms. Barb Baker, who is Congressman LaHood's Constituent Service Specialist in his Jacksonville office. For a few students, being in this kind of meeting was a new experience. Some of us nervously sat in our chair waiting to say our introduction, and others were more ready to get started on making the new connections with congressman LaHood’s office. After the introductions, the environment felt more comfortable and easy going.

CARE Advocates Urge Congressman LaHood to Support Foreign Assistance Programs Our leader Katie Brunk started the conversation with what CARE is and how the organization got started. Ms. Baker kindly asked what our future plans, and projects for the club will be. She was very interested in the work CARE is doing in the 18th district. Later, she invited us to give a presentation at Rotary Sunrise. This was a wonderful invitation to receive because some of the students in the group want to advertise CARE to more people in our community. After the meeting, Sara Timberlake a first year student and I began to discuss how Ms. Baker offered such a great opportunity to us, because we want to share our stories through CARE. We are excited to give a presentation.

CARE Advocates Urge Congressman LaHood to Support Foreign Assistance Programs

After the invitation, we gave a thank you to our Congressman LaHood for being one of the cosponsors of Reach Every Mother and Child Act. This is an act that is aimed at ending preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation. Two other students discussed the importance of the foreign aid budget in combating global poverty. I also spoke about the international violence against women act and shared with Ms. Baker why IVAWA is important to me with a personal story. Through our advocacy with Congressman LaHood we hope he will become a co-sponsor of IVAWA when it is introduced.  

At the end of the meeting, we took some group pictures to post on our Facebook page to share our advocacy work with our social networks. Our group is looking forward to attending the CARE Conference in Washington, DC this May so we can continue our advocacy with Congressman LaHood and our Senators to encourage them to invest in global health programs.

Kimberly Bernal
Illinois College

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