Lobby Day Photos: Grassroots in Action.
On February 13th, we put another Kentucky Home Birth Coalition (KHBC) Lobby day in the books. Every year, they run smoother and become more successful. This year, we had hundreds of constituents representing 85 districts of Kentucky. Thanks to photojournalism student Mhari Shaw, I have the whole day documented and they tell a memorable story.
I transported 150 boxes of cookies from The Pie Queen of Bowling Green, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky. My advocacy partner, Mary Kathryn Delodder, opened up her home to us, and we did all our last minute preparations in her basement. We stuffed folders for participants, labeled and organized the cookies for delivery, and finalized the meeting details.
Once we were done, we realized we had to get our wagons of cookies up the steep stairs out of Mary Kathryn‘s basement. What followed was humorous to say the least.
Something Mary Kathryn and I always want to show volunteers, is that we are doing these Lobby Days with children. Babies who cry, kids who scream, and in this case very helpful kids who have to be in the middle of every task. We want you to see this, so you know you can do it too!
Once all the volunteers had went home, Mary Kathryn and I finalized plans and went over our game plan for the next day.
I woke up at 4:30 the next morning, to get myself and my baby, Olen Wiley ready. We got everything packed up and started towards Frankfort. We arrived just before 8:00am, and with the help of our intern Molly, got everything to the cafeteria. Our room to set up in wasn’t ready until 10am, but our appointments started at 8:30am, so we had to start at a cafeteria table. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but we’ve learned over the years how to make due. As participants arrived, they received a personalized folder that contained talking points, a directory of volunteers, handouts for legislators and their schedule for the day. We also gave them stickers to show their support for SB84 (our bill to license midwives) and stickers for home born babies to wear. They were also given a box of cookies for their legislators.
I rely on volunteers to keep the sign in process running because I have to go to meetings and Mary Kathryn does too. My first stop was Michael Meredith. His constituents were traveling from many hours away and couldn’t make it for the early morning meeting, but he had also taken a great deal of time back home to meet with a group of supporters a couple weeks before lobby day. He has always been and continues to be supportive. He was also the only meeting Olen Wiley got fussy in. I was glad it was Rep. Meredith’s meeting, because where he’s a dad and a supporter, he didn’t make me feel out of place while feeding and calming my baby in his office.
Next, we met with my Senator, David Givens. If you’d like to know the details of how Sen. Givens has helped our grassroots movement over the years, you can read my previous blog “For the Love of KY Babies”. Our meeting was brief. As President Pro Tem, he is very busy, but we know he has our back.
I met with Rep. Scott Lewis for the first time. This is his first year representing Ohio County in the House. He was a quick and easy meeting. Constituents had already reached out to him and he knew he was for our bill. This meeting was far easier, because constituents took the time to contact him.
The halls are always so hectic. Especially on the 3rd and 4th floor. It can be loud, crowded and hot. Thankfully, all these parents were willing to juggle children in this environment, in order to meet with their legislators.
Next, we met with Rep. C. Ed Massey. He is also serving his first term, but has been in public service and leadership roles his whole life. He was friendly and willing to talk with us. He made some great points and really seemed to grasp the importance of this bill. He said he’d need to look the bill over, but supported midwives.
I had a 30 minute break between appointments, so I went to make sure the volunteers had transitioned to our reserved room. They had moved quickly and everything was running as smoothly as possible. I took a break at the back of the room, breastfed my baby and had a quick snack to restore my energy. Then it was time to go again.
This big group came from hours away to see Sen. Mike Wilson. Like Rep. Michael Meredith, Sen. Wilson has already given a great deal of his time to constituents back home. He is in support of our bill and even co-sponsored SB84 this year.
I know it isn’t easy to bring kids along, but it’s so important. We need to be there as moms, dads, children and babies to remind law makers of all the people their decisions effect. Entire families are counting on them to make the right decisions. It’s more than just about the women and midwives and all the others involved in the birthing process.
Lastly, I met with Sen. Matt Castlen and his wife Laura. They were exceptionally kind and listened to their neighbor and constituent share her story: this was a lot of firsts. This was the first time Sen. Castlen had heard about Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), the first time his constituent had met with a Legislator and the first time I had met his family. We even learned that Laura’s grandmother was a midwife! I was glad to have Laura there and I think she’ll be an advocate for us.
The last thing we did, was delver cookies to the legislators we didn’t have meetings with and to staff members.
When the meetings were done, and the legislators were in session, all the volunteers and midwives hung around to recap and let us know how their meetings went. What you’ve seen here, is Lobby Day through my eyes, but for what I did, each of these were doing the same. They led groups and spoke with legislators all day. Some ran the sign-in process and showed participants where to go. Each played a special role. Many have said that this year ran smoother than ever, with very little room for improvement. It’s because of this bunch of wonderful volunteers and midwives. Thank you to everyone who made Lobby Day 2019 possible! Although I enjoy Lobby Day, I hope SB84 passes and this was our last Lobby Day for this important cause.