by Abigail Blake, Membership Engagement, Public Policy Intern
It is hard to believe that I have already been working with Lutheran Services in America for six weeks. It seems like just yesterday I was walking past the Capitol building in awe, ecstatic that I found my way to LSA without getting lost or being late on my first day. Today, I went through the motions of getting on the metro and heading past the Capitol without any concerns. I know my way around now, this is starting to feel more like my city. Today, someone asked me for directions and I knew exactly what to tell them. A lot has happened in these six weeks, and I have started to look at the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) as my adopted community.
Lutheran Services in America has been instrumental in welcoming me and making Washington D.C feel like my city even though I am only here for three months. I have been able to take trips to the Hill, attend a meeting at the Treasury, The Arc and the Department of Labor. I have been able to attend a self-advocacy training and learn about bills that I feel passionate about. I never learned a lot about disability policy until I started to work with Sarah Meek, director of advocacy and public policy, who runs the LSA Disability Network. I have had the chance to help with her self-advocacy training and attend her policy team’s meetings in DC. Through meeting some of the clients that LSA’s members help and learning about these bills, disability policy has started to matter to me. I do not have anyone in my life that is directly affected by these policies but I am starting to feel like I have a personal stake in these policies especially ones such as the Transition to Independence bill which I have learned about in more depth.
I have started to see firsthand what LSA does and how it helps people in the community. When I wrote my last blog post, I had already known that I was working with a group of dedicated individuals with the desire and calling to serve. That is still true today but now I have also seen the tremendous impact this organization and the network it creates have in the United States. I have seen my supervisors advocate for their members in meetings with Senator’s staff, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Treasury. I have seen them inform their members on how new regulations affect them and best business practices. LSA works to strengthen the Lutheran social ministry community and welcomes new organizations to come together and share the wealth of their experience and knowledge. It is something I have been honored to be a part of and I am so grateful that I have not only been able to observe but also work on these projects. In these last six weeks I have started to become a part of the Lutheran social ministry community.
I am humbled to say that I have been able to become a part of two communities in these six weeks: Lutheran social ministry and the DMV community. I cannot wait to see where the next six weeks take me. I already know that LSA will teach me a lot more than I can imagine now during that time.