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PUBLIC POLICY


‛Standing With Seniors’ Is Making Our Voices Heard


By Daniel Samson


Data, statistics, and detailed policy analysis can only tell so much. More often, the most effective advocacy comes from real-life sto- ries of everyday people sharing how issues are personally affecting them and their loved ones. In recent weeks, senior living advocates from coast to coast have helped echo our message on Capitol Hill in a way our lob- bying efforts alone never could have done. Since the very beginning of the


COVID-19 crisis, Argentum has been actively working with key lawmakers and members of the Trump Administration to relay our priorities on urgent needs: person- al protective equipment (PPE), testing, and financial relief for the industry. But as we’ve been meeting with members


of Congress and their staffs in recent weeks, they shared that it has been the flood of messages they’ve received from senior living residents, family members, staff, and other advocates that has really shed light on the critical needs facing their communities.


Constituents count This was made possible by the “Standing with Seniors,” grassroots campaign we of- ficially launched in April, encouraging all residents and their family members, commu- nity staff, and other senior living advocates to reach out to their members of Congress and urge them to support senior living commu- nities with critical resources. Grassroots are an essential component


to any advocacy campaign. Lawmakers on the Hill receive hundreds or sometimes thou- sands of messages each day from constituents asking for help—and they depend on hearing on-the-ground insights from constituents to help connect the more nuanced policies be- ing debated in the halls of Congress to the people they are working to represent.


Our campaign specifically asks those tak-


ing action to include the name of the com- munity where they or their loved one resides, which—all politics being local—helps show- case the real people in their neighborhoods back home who are depending on them.


Thousands responding Already more than 50,000 messages have been sent to lawmakers. California has led the effort with the most messages sent at just over 6,000, followed by Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. But what’s been most encouraging has


been seeing the work of many of the small- er and mid-size states. Looking at the most messages sent per 1,000 assisted living resi- dents, it has been Connecticut consistently leading the pack, currently with more than 300 letters for every 1,000 assisted living residents in the state! And Virginia, New Jersey, and Colorado are each generating more than 100 letters for every 1,000 assisted living residents. Taking action couldn’t be any easier.


Advocates simply click on the link for the pre-written letter that’s most appropriate to them, then enter their contact information to match with correct lawmakers.


Collective action The campaigns are mobile-friendly, so community members can take action from tablets, cell phones, or other devices. Com- panies may also request our sample letter to encourage residents, families, and commu-


LEND YOUR VOICE


Send a message to Congress by visiting standingwithseniors.com. Links there can be shared with families, residents, and staff.


JULY/AUGUST 2020 ARGENTUM.ORG 53


Advocates Argentum For You


nity staff to support this effort. Communities have encouraged social-distance advocacy activities, where everyone collectively sends messages from the common area, as the Georgia Senior Living Association encour- aged its members. Our campaign has already had tangible


results, with many of our priorities included in H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act, passed by the House in May and currently being negotiated with the Senate. But our work isn’t finished, and we need to continue the momentum that this campaign has built. The next several weeks leading up to the


August Recess will be critical in our push to be included in the final version of the HEROES Act—likely the last COVID relief bill before the fall. While we have been making signifi- cant progress with the Trump Administration on our federal priorities, it’s critically import- ant that as lawmakers continue to negotiate on a compromise bill, they hear the needs of senior living communities from those who live and work in them, as well as their loved ones. Just a few minutes can make a world of dif-


ference as lawmakers look to their constituents to understand the critical issues that need to be addressed. The progress that we are making with


Congress and the Trump Administration has been made possible in no small part due to the tremendous work everyone has done as part of our grassroots effort. We thank everyone who has already participated and encourage those who haven’t yet to take a few minutes today to take action.


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