Why is it important to advocate for others? First, I think it is important to know what advocacy is and why people and organizations advocate for others, and sometimes even places and/or things. Advocacy is the act of supporting a cause, idea or policy and convincing the right people of its importance and the need to act on it. Advocacy is an essential tool for change and advocates use their voices to share ideas, persuade others and create change where there may be societal and community problems.
Samantha Power, an Irish-American academic, diplomat and government official states, “All advocacy is, at its core, is an exercise in empathy.” There are many ways one can advocate and many of us are probably already doing so without really knowing that we are. You see, Advocacy to me is taking a stand to speak up on behalf of others who may not be able to do so on their own for many reasons. Something that is near and dear to my heart and an area I have always tried to advocate for are our “at risk” population. Why? I believe we as human beings are all trying to do our very best with the tools we have learned and until we learn and are open to other possibilities, we continue to do what we know or were taught by our parents, teachers, siblings, friends, church leaders, as well as all the personal experiences we had as the result of where we were born, raised and our environment. You see, I believe that certain ways of being and showing up in the world get passed down from one generation to another. Let me share a story with you to further explain what I am talking about with how family’s hand down various things.
The Christmas Ham
A young girl was watching her mother bake a ham for a family gathering and noticed her mom cutting off the ends of the ham before placing it in the oven. “Mom, why do you cut the ends off before baking the ham? She asked curiously. “Hmmm… I think it helps soak up the juices while it’s baking. I’m not sure, though. That’s just the way your grandma always did it, so I’ve just always cut them off. Why don’t you call grandma and ask her?” So, the little girl phoned her grandma and asked “Grandma, mom is making a ham and cut off the ends before placing it in the oven. She said that it’s probably to help soak up the juices but wasn’t sure. She said you’d know because she learned how to cook from you.” “That’s true. I do cut off the ends of the ham before baking. But I’m not sure why either. I learned how to cook from my mom. You should ask her.” So, the inquisitive little girl called her great grandmother and asked, “Great Grandmother, mom and grandma said they learned how to cook a ham from watching you. Do you cut off the ends of the ham to help it soak up the juices?” The great grandmother chuckled. “Oh, no sweetie. I just never had a pan big enough to hold a whole ham, so I always had to cut off the ends to make it fit.”
I truly believe this is one reason why it is so important for human beings to advocate for one another, especially those in our society needing to be heard and needing someone else to step in and advocate on their behalf.
As a police officer for 23+ years, one of the hardest things for me to do was to advocate for others – not because I did not want to, because believe me I tried but many times I would get in trouble because it would be taken out of context due to my position of power – even when it was more than obvious the right thing to do.
Though this didn’t stop me, I found another way to advocate for many by being a part of SHEROES United for over a decade as a volunteer and as a board member. Below are a few ways I have been instrumental in advocating on behalf of SHEROES United:
Now as a Sheroes United Board Member, I extend an offer to each one of you and challenge you to join our non-profit in 2022 and become a SHEROES Advocate too. Looking forward to networking and building inspiring long lasting connections with you all.
Holly J. Ziegenhorn
SHEROES United Board Member