Be An Arthritis Ambassador

I am an Arthritis Ambassador. I spread awareness and educate others about this condition whenever and however I can. That makes me an advocate of sorts, but I am also part of an exciting program through the Arthritis Foundation making me an official “Arthritis Ambassador.”

I think you should be too.

HOLD ON!  Before you start thinking, “I’m too busy,”  “that doesn’t sound like me,” just wait. Hear me out. You should be doing this, you need to be doing this, and you will love doing this, if you just give it a chance.

Before we get into the details, let me start by saying the time commitment for this program is just about 24 hours per year. That’s no typo. I think you can spare that. I think you probably spend that much time per month, surfing the net, trolling Facebook, or even watching TV, but hey, that’s just a guess. If you are willing to commit two hours per month for a year, then you could make an impact on the future of arthritis. It really is that easy, and the impact can be huge.

During this time of year, the season of giving and giving thanks, doesn’t it seem fitting to commit such a small amount of time to increase the return tenfold?

Now that I have your attention, let me explain the program a little better.

The Arthritis Foundation explains the program like this:

Arthritis Ambassadors are volunteers committed to taking part in the democratic process and serve as liaisons between the Arthritis Foundation and their Congressional District’s Representative. Each Ambassador’s efforts are crucial to the success of the Arthritis Foundation. Each month, Ambassadors are asked to work with the AF Public Policy and Advocacy Department staff on special assignments to advance the Foundation’s advocacy efforts and to share their story with important decision makers.

Wow. That’s a mouthful, and very accurate, but I would simplify it by saying this: I have been involved in the program for over a year, and this is what I do.

1) Prior to taking on my first assignment, I listened in on a training call that took about an hour. After that, I participated in conference calls ( no more than one per month) that outlined what my assignment would be for that month.

2) If I wasn’t available for the conference call (yes- it’s happened) no biggie. I Listen to the recording at my leisure.

3) I complete the assignment. Sometimes it literally takes 10 minutes. The assignments vary, but can include sending an email to my congressman, sending a notice to my local newspaper or simply making a phone call. The Arthritis Foundation does all the hard stuff. They tell ME what potential legislation is out there that could benefit people with arthritis. They give me form letters and scripts to follow, and tell me how to contact my congressmen in order to let them know that this legislation is important to me. Congressmen don’t want to hear from lobbyists, they want to hear from their constituents. That is what makes this program so powerful. Its the power of the people.

4) I tell other people what I am doing and why. In the United States, we are a government for the people, by the people and of the people. If we want change, we have to participate in the process. The AF gives me an easy way to do that through the Ambassador Program, they do all the legwork, I just make the call/send the email. Easy peasy. If I have questions, I email my contact, and she answers them. Fast.

5) I report my activity on the AF website, through my own portal. They set it up for me, and its very easy to use. When I have done something that was asked of me, I check it off my list, submit the date it was completed, and that’s it!

I also attended the Advocacy Summit in Washington D.C.  This is an optional event, but I highly recommend it. It was fun, informative, and really was a great vehicle to prove to our congressmen how serious we were about this cause. I mean, we went ALL the way to D.C. to talk to them about it, face-to-face!  You can see what it was like by viewing last year’s agenda here. There’s even a kids’ summit within the summit to teach your kids all about the process and get them involved in age appropriate assignments, just for them!

My exciting news is that I was awarded Platinum status this year, fulfilling every assignment I was given. As a result, my family is one of 31 others who have received travel awards from the AF to come back to D.C., and advocate again in March of 2014. How cool is that?

In addition to the travel award (which is a very big deal, in my opinion) the other rewards of this program are huge. I am making an impact in current legislation, which translates into research dollars for arthritis, ability to access care, and affordable medications. I am teaching my kids about responsibility, taking action (instead of waiting of someone else to do it) and about the American governmental process. They are also writing letters, making phone calls, and sharing their stories, which is a VERY powerful thing.

NOW are you convinced?  You can do this! Its easy, it’s not time consuming, and the impact is real. Come join me!  You can sign up here.

 

 

 

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  1. […] you would like to take a more active role, the Ambassador Program is the way to go.  Although it is similar to the E-Advocate program, being an Arthritis Foundation […]

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