There is something inspiring about bringing people to the State House. As a professional lobbyist I can, at times, take for granted the grand and inspiring dome sitting atop Beacon Hill. I can find the process of watching bills or the annual budget go through the legislative process to be frustrating.
Yet on Tuesday, April 6th the stunning Hall of Flags filled with people, posters, PowerPoint displays on laptops, brochures and good food. CDCs from around Massachusetts were represented by board members, staff, community leaders, and more than a dozen youth leaders. Over 200 people from 38 member organizations came to meet with at least 38 legislators and aides to talk about the importance of ongoing foreclosure relief, fully supporting small business technical assistance and the role of CDCs in neighborhoods and regions throughout the Commonwealth. We also made a strong push for funding summer jobs for youth, with Makeila Layne, Dorchester Bay Youth Force from Dorchester Youth Force speaking to the crowd about the importance of those programs.
I heard people marvel at how beautiful the building is and I reminded them it is their building, they pay for it and the salaries of those working in it. People talked about how welcoming their Senator or Representatives were. Leaders brought their communities into the State House and the State House welcomed them.
Senator Harriette Chandler of Worcester, who was introduced by North High School Sophomore Jasmine Garcia, spoke of the importance of CDCs in her district and the pride she had in sponsoring bills that strengthen resources for CDCs. Representative Linda Dorcena Forry of Boston spoke of how CDCs build up communities including her own. EOHHS Secretary Greg Bialecki announced that he was doubling the Small Business Technical Assistant grants for CDCs and other non-profits so their funding was secure through the end of FY11.
And yet, as the lap tops were put away, the tables broken down, and the Great Hall of Flags became a large empty space I was reminded of the power that comes from bringing community leaders into the State House to make their case. My job will be a little bit easier now as I continue to lobby on a daily basis, but more importantly, I am convinced that our event will help build momentum for passing the legislation and budget items that our members and our communities need.
Be sure to enjoy MACDC’s first ever Lobby Day video. It was compiled and edited by MACDC’s own Jay Rosa using video shot by various folks and the photographs of Lolita Parker, Jr.