By Andrey Khabursky, residence manager
Advocacy. What is it? What's it look like, feel like, and what makes it so significant and powerful?
Advocacy is the power to change the life of a person, a culture, a people.
Advocacy, whether spoken or unspoken is the driving force that brings us alongside our best intentions, and many times brings them to reality.
A few weeks ago "advocacy" became a redefined term for me. One of the gentlemen who live in a home supported by Heritage Christian staff had gone into the hospital, and after 5 days and 4 nights, he was ready to come home. The team at large stood on the fence, not comfortable to make a decision either way. I struggled through the channels of communication, hierarchy, and positional authority in order to take on the critical role of being an advocate in a new, very defined role. Much of the team looked at his past history, which is important, but they didn’t look at his current condition and honor what he wanted. We call this the “what ifs.” These what ifs could keep all of us from living a fulfilled and meaningful life, and moreover, keep us from offering the opportunity for others to do the same. As his housemates welcomed him home, he just "lit up" and a sense of refreshment washed over him.
So whether we're "thinking outside the box," or standing our ground on behalf of those we serve and support, we should always take their best interest into account when we become "their voice" for that moment. Like for you and I, there have been moments when we had someone come alongside us, and speak up for us, and make things happen. It's OK to be their voice, but may it be just for a moment... long enough to bring about change, build confidence and leave a lasting impact. Many times we want to be the voice of advocacy, not only at the right times, but all the time. We need to constantly reevaluate to see if we’ve taken their voice away or if we are being that push to get them going. Let’s think of their voice as a bobsled… many times, those we support only need that push to really get moving and the rest is driven by them. Often for our comfort, we long to hold on to that bobsled as it flies through the course at 70mph, and continue to be an advocate, not realizing, our advocacy was accomplished long ago.
Advocacy may be just the simple act of standing with another; unity.
Advocacy done right is empowering.