Habitat on the Hill

Whenever I think of Washington, D.C., it reminds me of being bright-eyed and optimistic about spending my 20s in one of my favorite cities. That never happened – and I’m glad I got on another path because I like that I can wear jeans to work. But my most recent visit for work did make me miss a good suit, a nice tie and ethnic cuisine.

I was lucky enough to snag a spot at Habitat on the Hill, Habitat’s annual advocacy conference. It was three days of learning talking points for our policy priorities and then heading to The Hill to talk with various Congressmen and women to talk about Habitat and why issues like SHOP, microbuilds and National Service are essential to our mission. My portion included guiding our youth members, under age 25, through their first conference.

Its one thing to know your organization’s mission. It’s another to get to live it in a way where you not only have to educate someone else about your mission, but get them excited about your work and compel them to be moved in some way that they want to support you.

I’ve struggled in the last year to let parts of my journalistic instincts go as I try to become an expert on Habitat and nonprofits, yet every part of me felt uncomfortable going in and asking for what Habitat needs. I like being on the other end of those conversations and being overly critical about any special interest. I missed my reporter’s notebook.

When it came time to say, “Families are counting on you,” I just had to go for it. My doubts of being in on the “ask” went away as I thought about all the homeowners and volunteers I’ve encountered in the past year and how these policies and budget allocations have provided second chances for older communities, security for families, and jobs for so many 20-somethings like myself. Although I missed my notebook, I loved that I could finally have an opinion and actually express it without worry of it tainting any attempts to be “unbiased.”

Whether you voted for your representative or not, it’s nice to go beyond just voting. Regardless of interest, bug reps, their staff and anyone that will listen, even if it means getting out of jeans and cleaning up for the day.