by Ron Katz
Focus Area Manager
As Independence Day approaches, I started to think about my work at United Way and all of the amazing volunteers I have the pleasure to work alongside. These citizens of our community understand everyone deserves opportunities to have a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health. They take that understanding further by advocating for lasting change.
Advocacy is one of the basic tenets of citizenship, of participating in our community, region, state and country. If we are to be good citizens, we need to share our passions on issues that most touch us.
What is advocacy?
There are many definitions out there, but one that I culled from the Internet states, "Advocacy is public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy."
Recently, I was called to jury duty. My first thought (I am a bit ashamed to say), was thinking how inconvenient the jury summons was for me. I had several important meetings that were going to be scheduled around that time, and I knew if I asked to be excused, my summons might be deferred to a time when I had already planned a vacation or had something equally important on my calendar.
So, I came to the courthouse the day I was supposed to appear hoping I would not be called. In the time that I was waiting, though, I had several conversations with fellow prospective jurors—and each time I realized how fortunate I was to have this opportunity to serve. Whether I was called or not, I was part of a judicial process/system that had my peers making the decision of guilt and innocence. I was being given the opportunity to participate.
I also realized that if I didn’t cooperate/participate, I would be shirking my responsibility; advocates don’t shirk their responsibility. They actively participate, and they voice their passion. We can not (and should not) expect that our role is not needed or is unimportant.
So, how do we advocate?
- We register to vote and check our registration to ensure we are registered at our current address.
- We educate ourselves on the issues and the candidates running for office.
- We vote.
- When we are not voting, we share our passions on the issues that most touch us.
- And when we are called upon to serve, we serve.
I remember one quote that I believe was attributed to Winston Churchill. It goes something like this: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” What I take from that quote is that democracy takes work and it works best when its citizens act as citizens, when they participate, and when they advocate.
Take Further Action
- Learn about our advocacy efforts
- Learn about the issues that we're watching
- Learn about Ron's recent trip to Raleigh
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Make a donation
Ron Katz is the Focus Area Manager. He is also the lead staff member related to all things advocacy and works closely with community volunteers in the areas of education, income and health. For more information on the advocacy work of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, contact him at Ron.Katz@UnitedWayABC.org or (828) 239-1045.