events of March 8 thru 13th, 2009 – continued

Finally we were in Washington, DC for our “working” part of this vacation.  It was to be a very unique and first time experience for us, advocacy training and then appointments to meet Congressional leaders “up on the Hill” as they say here in Washington.  We were put through many hours of study about the facts and issues of kidney disease, then taught how to use a very focused process of “Hook, Line and Sinker” to communicate our messages, built around those facts and our personal stories, which would be the agenda for face to face meetings.  The NKF put together a really great program which culminated the first day with an evening reception with the House of Representatives’ Kidney Caucus, a select group of lawmakers who have come together in support of this important mission.

Pam and Jim visit Washington DC

Pam and Jim visit Washington DC

Thursday found us getting final training to overcome nervousness and “keep on message” no matter who we found ourselves speaking with in those meetings (five for us).  And so off we went.  Each meeting was unique, but let me just share the first one with a staffer for Senator Frank Lautenberg, our NJ Senator.  His name was Ian Grubman, “Legislative Correspondent” (that was his former title, but now he was actually helping to set policy, not just report on it) and a better listener for our initial experience we couldn’t have asked for.  He was new in the role and eager to help.  Ian came in with homework research already done.  We were impressed and very much enjoyed using our newly learned process to communicate with passion the specific requests we needed him to pass along to “the Senator”.  And that set the tone for the day, a day we will not soon forget.

It was so fascinating to see “up close and personal” how this great democratic process works and we, individual citizens, called upon and were given undivided attention from this important legislative leader’s office and staff.  “Thank you, Ian, for your attendtion and follow through to this important issue.”