I am excited to have received an invitation from the JDRF Grassroots Advocacy group to join them for the 2011 JDRF Government Day event, starting this afternoon in Washington, D.C.
The event actually lasts four days, and is a mix of updates, information, advocacy training, and meeting with representatives from Congress. Their goals for this event are to grow the JDRF network and to support and advance the broader diabetes community (as Mike Kondratick, Director, JDRF Grassroots Advocacy, recently stated).
This year, they’ve invited some of us from the Diabetes Online Community to join them and share our perspectives on the advocacy needs of the diabetes community and talk about ways we can all work together to achieve them. Nine of us are volunteering our time and energy to attend this event and see what it’s all about.
In addition to all of the regular ‘Government Day’ activities, the JDRF is hosting a blogger round table session, where we will be talking with, and taking questions from over 150 volunteers from across the country. We are splitting into two groups to make discussion more feasible.
By chance, I got into the session that will be broadcast on the JDRF USTREAM channel. Tune in on Sunday, March 13, at 2:15 PM EST to see the session.
There is a twitter ‘hashtag’, #JDRFGovDay, that will be used to round up tweets that happen throughout the event. I’ll try to get some tweets sent too, but not at the expense of missing stuff happening right in front of me. You can also keep an eye on the JDRF Advocacy Facebook page, which will have updates posted throughout the event.
This new outreach is still in its infancy and is a totally new mission for many chapters. True mentoring programs were few and far between you might find a program to “mentor” people on how to help with fund-raising but not find one on how to help to cope with the day-to-day of diabetes. Previously, Adult T1’s were viewed as either a volunteer, a donor, or a fund-raiser.
Like many things in life, this is about a new relationship, and it’s a new relationship that has, for some people, a fair amount of old baggage to deal with. Me? I’m excited that they are interested in doing more, and I’m happy to help all parties involved in any way I can.
In addition to all of this new relationship stuff, I’ll be able to catch most of their normal ‘Government Day’ meetings and sessions. As someone who has always been a bit intimidated by politics, this will be good exposure for me.
I fly out early in the morning, and with any luck I’ll be somewhere over Wisconsin or Illinois when this post is published. I even have the pleasure of meeting the above mentioned Scott Strange for breakfast in Chicago, then sharing a flight with him to D.C. I hope that he behaves himself once we’re on the plane – I don’t want to be the one blogging about how an air marshal put him in a submission hold at 20,000 feet in the air…
** Disclosure: The JDRF is paying for my travel, lodging, and a few meals. The JDRF has not placed any restrictions (or expectations) on what I blog about, and they have no editorial control before or after the event. While I’m honored to have been invited, I also want people to recognize that this sort of thing is expensive for me in terms of time, energy, opportunity cost, and some out of pocket money. Travel is never completely free.