Kate Quinton: Civic Engagement

 

Hello Friends! You cannot turn on the TV without hearing the latest in this political Presidential battle. But here in Tulsa, we have a year of so much more to lose. Our battle extends far beyond who will be the new President of the United States, we have elections for the Tulsa County Sheriff, Tulsa Mayor, City Counselors, Vision 2025 and this is just the start of the list. 2016 could be the year that Oklahomans change the course or the year we stay the course. Recently, I had the privilege of joining the Voting is Power (VIP) Coalition with an already established remarkable group of women looking to increase voter registration, voter turnout and civic participation through education. At the first meeting I attended I was humbled as I listened to six strong, fiery women talk about their activism and passion to make changes in our community. I was surrounded by women who don’t stop, who refuse to remain quiet, and who have taken their power and refuse to give it back. These women have presumably spent their lives fighting for justice. I sat there listening to their stories of victories and losses.

Often times I think we separate civic engagement and the roles of social work. But we can’t. They are one in the same. If we plan to stand for social justice, we must use our voices to advocate for our clients. We must be their voices, as they find their own. I was similarly reminded of this last year at the NASW Lobby Day. We spent the day learning about upcoming legislation that would harm our clients and communities. Then empowered with knowledge we talked with Representatives and Senators about the importance of supporting or rejecting specific legislation. Backed by our education and lens of social justice, we were making an impact. It showed me that it doesn’t take an overly educated person, a wealthy person, a person with all the right words it just took a person willing to stand up to say what is right and true, to fight to make a difference.

I know we are all busy and have such limited time, but I challenge you to fight with us. Be informed. Stay up to date on what is going on and not just nationally, but locally. So much that impacts each of us daily is decided at the state and city level, not the national. Make sure that your voter registration is up to date. The deadline for registration to be eligible to vote in the Presidential primary and Tulsa County Sheriff primary is February 5th, with the primaries occurring on March 1st. Please join us on February 9th for NASW Lobby Day to use your power.

It is time that another voice be heard in Oklahoma, let that voice be yours.

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