My health center collected signatures in 2011…now what?

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>This blog post is part of an 8-week series leading up to the 2012 Policy & Issues Forum, March 21-25. The series is designed to complement the guide “Signing On: A Prescription for Success” by providing practical information for health center advocates beginning or continuing a petition/letter drive, with the goal of delivering petitions/letters to Members of Congress.

The National Petition & Letter Drive began during the summer of 2011 with the goal of continuing the effort through July 4, 2012. When the call to begin collecting petitions and letters went out last year, hundreds of health centers responded by placing petition forms in waiting rooms and asking community supporters to write letters to Members of Congress expressing support for their local health center and for Community Health Centers nationally. To date, more than 350,000 people (that we know of*) have signed petitions or written letters!

>>If your health center has not yet started collecting petition signatures and/or letters, it’s not too late to start! Check out this recent blog post, How to start a petition and/or letter drive at my health center: Part 1

In a blog post last week, we highlighted the fact that individual health center champions like Rafael Reyes, a staff member at Delaware Valley Community Health in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are stepping up to collect thousands of petition signatures in health center waiting rooms!

While health centers delivered 100,000 petitions and letters to Members of Congress last fall, we need to continue collecting signatures and letters, and we must also continue delivering these petitions and letters to Congress!

If your health center has been collecting petitions and/or letters since last year, what are your plans to deliver your petitions/letters to Members of Congress this year? Even if you have already delivered your petitions/letters to Congress last year, you should plan to do so AGAIN this year! Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

A) My health center delivered petitions/letters to our Members of Congress last year…should we deliver those petitions/letters again this year?

Yes! Any petitions/letters you have collected during the year-long National Petition & Letter Drive should be included in both your ongoing tally and whenever you present copies of petitions/letters to your Member of Congress. As Dan Hawkins explains in this video, the visual impact of delivering a huge stack of petitions/letters makes Members of Congress and their staff take notice! We must continue to remind them of the message their constituents are sending in support of health centers.

>>As you continue collecting petitions and letters in 2012, be sure to download and use this updated petition template.

B) My health center collected petitions/letters last year…when is our next opportunity to deliver those petitions/letters to Members of Congress?

The upcoming 2012 Policy & Issues Forum (P&I) in D.C., March 21-25, is the perfect opportunity to deliver copies of all the petitions/letters your health center has collected. Consider that even if you delivered petitions/letters to your Member’s District office last year, P&I will be a great time to make a visual impact on your Member’s D.C. staff.

>>Learn how to bring those petition and letter copies with you to D.C. (or how to send them ahead) on page 4 of our guide, “Signing On: A Prescription for Success”.

If no one from your health center is able to attend the P&I in March, you can plan a delivery event with your Member of Congress back home. Click here to view the U.S. House and Senate 2012 schedule, indicating when Members will be in D.C. and when they will be back home.

Don’t forget, in order to reach our ultimate goal of 2,000,000 signatures by July 4, 2012, it is critical that every health center continue to collect petition signatures and/or letters of support!

*We only know how many petition signatures and letters of support have been collected if you tell us! Let us know how many petitions and/or letters your health center has collected by sending in regular tally updates – send us an email: grassroots@nachc.com

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