by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager
Part of United Way of Pierce County’s efforts in Advocacy includes spending a “Day on the Hill” in Olympia. This year, United Way of Pierce County was well represented in Olympia on February 11. Our delegation was led by Jamey McCormick and Patty Rose, board members who co-chair UWPC’s Advocacy Committee. Other Community Champions who attended were Jeffrey Vernor, Board Member, Russell Investments; Cheryl Jones, Allen Renaissance; Ria Johnson, Metropolitan Development Council; Matt Levi, Franciscan Health Care; and Nathe Lawver, AFL-CIO. Funding partners from Boeing, Gina Breukelman and Shyla Miller, also joined the team.
The group gathered at the Capitol and spent the day meeting with legislators discussing our board- approved legislative agenda, primarily focusing on support for developing a private/public funding partnership for home visiting (3SHB2687), a critical resource for the First 5 FUNdamentals early learning system and preserving state funding for 2-1-1. Highlights of those meetings include reassurance from Representative Bruce Dammeier (25th District) that early learning is one of his top priorities which was echoed throughout the day in meetings with Senator Derek Kilmer (26th District), aide for Representative Jan Angel (26th District), aide for Representative Tami Green (28th District), Representative Jeannie Darneille (27th District) and aide to Representative Dawn Morrell (25th District). We brought much needed attention to the value of 2-1-1, particularly with Representative Dennis Flannigan (27th District), Representative Al O’Brien (1st District – not in Pierce County, however a prime champion for statewide 2-1-1) and Senator Jim Kastama (25th District).
Early learning was definitely creating a buzz in the hallways of the legislative building, with lots of discussion swirling around about a variety of related bills which are alive and moving through the process. During the luncheon, provided by UWWA, Representative Ruth Kagi (prime sponsor of the home visiting bill), mentioned how much she appreciates the advocacy by Pierce County in relation to home visiting. Also during the lunch, President Rick Allen engaged in an interesting back and forth with Representative Roger Goodman who believes that early learning should be included in the definition of basic education.
All in all it was a very successful day that the Champions agreed made a significant impact. Now we must keep that ball rolling so that when the legislative session ends on March 11, our agenda items will be winners! Most importantly, the community we serve will be able to continue to access the invaluable service of 2-1-1 and young parents and their babies will start life out right due to having a trained professional visit their homes regularly providing child development and bonding insight.
You can help by writing a letter to the editor or contacting your local legislator. Use your voice, make a difference.
WE WANT TO KNOW…What issues do you think our state government needs to focus on?