"Advocacy in all it's forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable in society, are able to have their voice heard, and defend their rights." Support Empower Advocate Promote
If it wasn't for the Center for Independent Living that I'm a consumer at I wouldn't have any idea what it means to advocate for myself. The great thing about the CIL is when you go to advocate if you need their assistance or support they will go along with you to your appointments. When you grow up being taught that you are worthless, that your voice doesn't matter; going in front of people in authority can be a daunting feat.
Through tears and being visibly shaken I’ve learned that hard skill. My insides still do cartwheels and there are times that I still fall out crying but I do it. It's only because of the support of the CIL that I've been able to face these challenges.
Safe, secure, affordable housing for people that are on disability or social security can be a pie in the sky. I was living in an apartment that at the time that I moved in I didn't know the landlord was a slum lord. I was there for a little over two years. Close to a year in is when everything started to show it's self; from a drug dealer selling out of his apartment, gunfire inside the building, repairs not being taken care of, you name it, it happened. The icing on the cake was bedbugs.
Growing up one of my nightmares was having a quart jar of spiders poured over my naked body. Needless to say bedbugs negatively impacted my mental health. I tried majorly to get out of my apartment but I kept running into walls. Thank goodness that I had the fortitude to keep pushing on. Every time I got a no it would send me back a couple of steps. But I would come back with a different angle to the housing authority. Every step I took I hit that wall. I was coming to the end of my rope and my rope didn't have a knot in the end. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out loud so that people would know what lead to it.
So I ended up calling the Building Code Department on my landlord. I had in the back of my mind that I would throw my things into storage and live out of the back of my SUV. I went into my national representative and also the mayor of Anchorage and through tears and shaky hands and voice told them my story, and I asked for their help. Remember every time I went into the housing authority they were telling me no that they wouldn't rent to me.
The next day I got a call from the housing authority offering me the brand spanking new apartment that I wanted to rent from them. The person asked if she could be my point person through the whole process. "I would like that a lot". It was crazy. I called my Advocate at the CIL to let her know what just happened. She laughed and said that she just got a call from Senator Sullivan's office telling her that they called the housing authority and asked them to pull my file. The next week I moved into my apartment. It still blows my mind when I think about it. One persistent voice moved a huge mountain.
So not only do I advocate for myself to get better services and to stand my ground for my rights as a disabled person. I have set precedent in the state when it comes to mental health in the work place. I also advocate for the same services for other people.
I like the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have".
Do what you can, where you are, with what you have ~ Theodore Roosevelt