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Plan Ahead: Schedule face time with your members of Congress

Members of Congress will be home on recess from Feb. 18-26. This recess is a critical opportunity to personally connect with your elected officials.

Face-to-face conversations with lawmakers and their staff are powerful in conveying your message. Nothing is more persuasive than speaking directly with the people who represent you and the seniors in their states and districts.

Getting one-on-one time with your members of Congress takes planning. Here are 3 steps to take right now:

1. Connect with the state or district office.

Every member of Congress has at least one office back in their home state. Often, it’s easier to reach staff at these offices and set up meetings. You can look up your legislators’ local office addresses and phone numbers here. Call now to schedule a meeting during the recess. You might also want to invite or work together with other advocates in your state to schedule and/or attend the meeting. Prepare for your meeting with these Top 10 Tips for a Successful Visit to a Member of Congress.

2. Attend a town hall meeting.

Many members of Congress hold these events while they’re home on recess—specifically to hear from you. Find out if one is scheduled in your area by calling the district office or searching on Accountable Congress. If there is an event, show up early because it may be well-attended and be prepared to ask the questions important to you. Not sure what to ask? Read our latest Policy blog posts to understand what issues are most urgent for older Americans right now. Then get ready by reading our 9 Tips for Town Hall Meetings.

3. Invite your lawmakers to your organization.

There’s no better way for a member of Congress to understand an issue than to experience it firsthand. Call the district office now and invite your legislator and staff to spend just 30 minutes at your location to see the services you provide and the people you serve. Find out How to Get an Elected Official to Attend Your Event.

Congress has signaled that key programs and services for older Americans are at stake this year—including the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act. Your voice can make a difference.

If you are successful at scheduling or attending a meeting, don’t hesitate to contact us at advocacy@ncoa.org if there is anything we can do to help. Remember to send a thank you note following your meeting. We have a template you can use to draft the letter. After your meeting or town hall, don’t forget to tell us how it went.

If you have questions about the intersection between lobbying and advocacy, join us and the experts at the Alliance for Aging for a free webinar on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. ET. Find out what lobbying is, why it’s so important, and how your nonprofit can lobby within the rules. Register for the webinar here.

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Howard Bedlin

About Howard Bedlin

Howard Bedlin is NCOA's Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy. He is responsible for all of NCOA’s federal and state legislative advocacy efforts on issues and programs of concern to older adults, which include the Older Americans Act, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, income security, and community services programs.