Highlights from MCH Advocacy Fellow, Jason

Hi there,
I hope this email finds you well. Reflecting on my journey thus far in the MCH Advocacy Fellowship Program, I am honored to share my experiences with you. I am very proud to be a part of the first cohort of MCH Advocacy Fellows. There are a lot of wonderful advocates that applied, I am honored to call myself a Fellow with MCH. This isn’t somewhere I would ever imagine myself being, I hold my head up high when I talk about working with MCH and it’s a huge accomplishment in my life. 

My favorite part of the Fellowship has been working at the Capitol and the State Office Building. Especially for me living up in Moorhead and having to travel to the Twin Cities for meetings, it has been a valuable and interesting experience. I’m learning how to make plans and get everything lined up so I make the most out of my trip. Along with that, I’ve met some amazing people this year while in this Fellowship and I have been stepping out of my comfort zone. I have realized some potentials that I have that I never thought were there and I’ve grown a lot this year. Not just professionally, my personal life has seen amazing growth as well with the skills that I’ve learned this year while working with new people. 

The most challenging part is some of the small details and making sure I am updated and prepped for my work week. I have my email lists, phone lists, and advocate lists ready to go, and even though it is hard to stay on top of it I find that it helps me stay organized. I also find that prepping testifiers has been one of the more difficult parts for me. Understanding the process of how to get the right information that we need while also being respectful at the same time to the person that we’re interviewing to testify is hard. I find it somewhat intimidating, but it’s not too much for me to handle. I am gaining confidence and comfort in doing those things. I ask a lot of questions as we go, and I enjoy challenges in my life that is what keeps me going. 

I’m very proud of the work that I did on the encampment legislation this year. I was able to work in the research department with Molly Peterson (House Research)  to help draft language and to ensure that we had safe statewide language around encampments. While the legislation didn’t make it through this year, we are in a very good position for it to be introduced and passed in the future. I learned a lot in the process and we did exactly what was asked of us, plus more; I believe we drafted a really good piece of legislation that will be back next year. I am honored that I was able to be in that position to work with a whole team of MCH Advocates that I helped organize and get together to go through different edits of that legislation. It meant a lot that everyone was confident in my abilities to do what I did; confident in my organizing and in me being the one to work with Molly in the research dept. That’s one hell of accomplishment I think for someone like myself, I mean, not just six years ago, I was sleeping on the streets addicted to heroin.

A few numbers I want to share with you: 2019 days. 1891 days. 271 days.

  • The first number,  2019, that’s how many days have been sober. The second number, 1891, that’s how many days I have been housed. The third number,  271, well that’s the best of all, that’s how many days I’ve been an MCH Advocacy Fellow. 

I hope this next year with the Fellowship leads me back in a very similar direction. I want to be right up front working on important things, important issues. I also hope that this year in the Fellowship I can revisit the encampment legislation and see it through to victory. I’m hoping to learn some new things this year while working on some new pieces of legislation, hopefully, something with some finances attached to it so I can understand how that process works. I want to gain as much as I can from this year so I can come out with a very well-rounded advocate and organizer. I hope that by the end of this year as well I can find an organization that I can work with full-time. MCH would be the number one choice if not somebody who works very closely with MCH. So I can still work with you advocates. I just want to learn, learn, learn, and continue to build my relationships and understanding of how this whole process works. 

Thank you for your continued support and guidance throughout this journey.

If you are interested in financially supporting our work, here is a link to donate to the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. We are currently building out our number of sustaining donors, and  with your support, I know we will continue doing great work together.

I feel grateful every time I think about being a part of the fellowship and being a part of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. I’m doing something now that matters and i help make a difference in the world now and I make a difference in people’s lives and my community. People reach out to me for answers they want me to be part of things and help make and facilitate change. Just hearing myself say these things and write them warms my heart. I am making something out of my life and giving back. There’s no better feeling than that in the entire world. No drug matches the high that I get from my work. Thank you for having me as a Fellow.

–Jason, MCH Advocacy Fellow

PS: If you missed Laquita Love-Limo’s highlight from a few weeks ago, check out her blog here