What It Is
An advocate is one who speaks on behalf of another person or group. Advocacy is often thought of as “an act of publicly representing an individual, organization, or idea,” and involves many intervention tactics such as “speaking, writing or acting in favor of an issue, cause, policy or group of people.” It is often involves a process of dialogue, friendly exchange or negotiation. Advocates can also be involved in controversial activities or issues, but because they are speaking on behalf of a group, they tend to be more likely to follow the paths of lobbying and legislation.
Many see advocacy as the best strategy to cultivate the political support needed to get the resources we need to prevent and end homelessness. However, advocacy is not the only strategy for bringing about social and political change. Activism, too, can be a very powerful tool, and at times the only path to change. It may involve a wide range of forms such as protest or dissent, boycotts (or preferentially patronizing preferred businesses), rallies, street marches, strikes (i.e., work stoppages, hunger strikes, etc.), blogging, and more. Engaging in nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience may be necessary to provoke and raise awareness, especially when access to other forms of expression is non-existent or limited.
Advocates and activists are both change agents working to create social or political change. Both roles are needed, and while their objectives overlap, they approach their roles differently. Although Celebrate Outreach chooses to focus on advocacy and work "inside the system," we still support and collaborate with other organizations engaged in activism. Yet, while both advocacy and activism are necessary tools, it is important to know that neither approach is a complete solution. Collective action from many individuals, organizations and communities working together both “inside” and “outside” the system is still needed to bring about lasting change. Remember, "the power of the people is greater than the people in power."
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What We Are Doing
To fulfill our mission, Celebrate Outreach serves as an advocacy organization speaking with and on behalf of people experiencing homelessness and those at risk for experiencing homelessness. Our advocacy activities usually take the form of letters to the editor, press releases and interviews with media, dialogue, negotiation, and collaboration.
Current issues surrounding homelessness about which we are advocating include:
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How You Can Help
Advocacy is something all of us can do. Whether it's writing a letter or showing up at a public hearing, you participation can help make a difference. Serving as a "watch" volunteer -- that is, tracking actions and progress on homelessness issues in the legislative, judicial and media fields, for instance -- is another valuable way in which you can help. Current advocacy opportunities will be posted on this page regularly. So, please visit us often.
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AN ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY
WRITE AND CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TODAY!
March 21, 2016
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration released its final budget proposal, which strongly prioritized ending homelessness. President Obama requested $2.664 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in fiscal year (FY) 2017.
This month, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), began asking their colleagues in the House and Senate to join "Dear Colleague" Member sign-on letters in support of the Administration’s requested funding levels for key programs serving people experiencing homelessness. Last year, Rep. Kathy Castor signed on, and she did so again this year. No word from Rep. Jolly or our Senators. Perhaps they feel there's enough money coming to Florida to provide services for our growing homeless population.
Thanks to everyone who helped urge our Congressional delegation to support homeless services. Be sure to contact Congresswoman Castor to thank her for her support. For more updates, please click here to reach the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
For contact information for the Pinellas County Congressional Representatives, click here.