American Heart Month was kicked off on February 1st by our advocates descending on the New York State Capitol to lobby state legislators in support of funding to make New York more heart-healthy. This year, we are supporting funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and funding to implement the CPR in Schools requirement.
The morning began with a training session facilitated by Government Relations Directors Kristin Salvi and Martha Auster, recapping the budget issues and sharing tips on a successful lobby day visit. Participants then broke into regional teams to rehearse their pitch, and then everyone hit the Capitol. By the end of the day, we met with over 20 state legislators and staffers!
The Upstate New York Team met with Assemblymembers Fahy, Steck, and Hunter as well as Senators Breslin, DeFrancisco and Funke. The team from Westchester/Hudson Valley met with Assemblymembers Otis and Lalor and Senators Lattimer and Serino. The New York City team met with Assemblymembers Seawright and Rosenthal, and Senators Klein and Serrano.
Our leadership team met with Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried who Chair the Health Committees as well as Chairmen of the Economic Development Committees Sen. Phil Boyle and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. The day was rounded out by meetings with staff from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
These meetings are where the magic can happen when a legislator or staff becomes a champion for our issues. This is when a well-prepared advocate can answer specific questions about how funding for a program will help constituents in a legislative district. In fact, the chief of staff for Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright reiterated for the New York City team how important it is for groups like the American Heart Association to bring their message to Albany ~ it really does make a difference!
Two Final Thoughts:
Please look for advocacy alerts and make your voice heard in support of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and funding for CPR in Schools. Every letter, phone call and visit truly makes a significant impact on our campaign efforts!
Initially we thought the favorite moment of the day was when the New York City Team was invited to the Assembly Rostrum, a position usually occupied by the Speaker! But it ended up being at the very end of the day during a meeting with Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, when his chief of staff said an AED in a school gym saved her friend’s life when he collapsed during a workout. Our mission at work!