“There are three branches of government, but what we often forget about is the people,” says advocate and Indy Global Groups leader Cecilia Van Wijk, sifting through her notes as she prepares herself to embark out to the nations capital in search of social justice on July 21.
The Indiana State Alumna is currently a University of Indianapolis grad student pursuing a masters degree in Strategic Leadership as well as an intern and admin at Grassroots Results here in Indianapolis. She holds a degree in Public Relations communications, and minors in Political Science and Civic leadership.
“When I moved here I still needed a job and I applied to University of Indianapolis where I was going to school and I got a full-time job in the Social Work department. I am full time support staff there,” says Van Wijk.
Full-time social support worker by day and world changing congressional advocate by night, Van Wijk holds big plans to lobby major poverty issues face to face with congressional representatives in D.C. this July.
Through a program introduced to her late in her undergraduate years, Van Wijk describes, “RESULTS is an organization that hopes to bring an end to poverty through economic and health education opportunity. By influencing members of Congress on legislation, either face to face or with their staff.”
As stated, RESULTS is a national organization functioning to help average everyday people voice in the proceedings of congress, editors and real situations. The programs is located in almost all 50 states and is run by majority unpaid and passionate volunteers such as Van Wijk.
“The reason I found out about RESULTS is both of my parents are Methodist pastors. They have a friend who is also a united Methodist pastor but she does her work through RESULTS instead of at the pulpit,” says Van Wijk, “There were conversations here and there when they told me I needed to check this out, but I officially found out about it my senior year of college.”
There are four main campaign focuses of the trip, according to the RESULTS website, aimed towards U.S. Poverty and Nutrition (Protect and Strengthen SNAP), U.S. Poverty Health (Protect Medicaid) , U.S. Poverty Economic Mobility Request Sheet and U.S Poverty Economic Mobility Request regarding tax reform.
Growing up in northwest Indiana, Van Wijk participated in many trips that ignited her heart to help those that don’t have the opportunities she saw in her own life.
"This specific mission trip in Kokomo,” says Van Wijk, “the people who worked there warned us that some of the elementary school kids would show up 30 minutes late because they didn’t understand the construct of time. That just hit me.”
Here she found her heart for the local heart of Indiana, and some of the impoverished needs seen here in the states. Van Wijk describes, “There are kids who didn’t even understand the concept of time because their lives where just so turned upside down. Their parents didn’t function in a normal job.”
From the first day of the conference to the last, participants will be educated on their ability to advocate against poverty in connection with officials inside of D.C.
“We will hear from people who have been in the worst type of poverty and how they got themselves out of it through the help of the programs that RESULTS supports,” says Van Wijk.
The Global Partnership for Education incases Wijk’s heart for poverty and experience with local issues. She desires to have a personal impact in one practical goal for this Grassroots organization as she heads to the capital.
“The emotional aspect is often times how you get people on board, but also looking at the fact,” said Van Wijk, “If the programs aren’t sustainable and there is not proof that they are working, then people aren’t going to want to support them, especially our members of Congress.”
During this trip on July 25, the team of activists plans to lobby on Capitol Hill on the final day of the IC with members of Congress on global poverty issues.
“The last part of the conference is when we are really doing the advocacy, face to face hopefully with some of the members of Congress. My representative is Susan Brooks and I have requested a meeting with her to thank her for her support of maternal and child health.”
As this initiative moves forward with the assistance from RESULTS here in Indianapolis, Van Wijk insists that any person could take actions necessary regarding political decisions that they believe in.
“It takes only 2 minutes to call you member of Congress. You have to take that first step to do it in order to know how rewarding it is to know that you are making a difference,” said van Wijk, “This isn’t something you have to be in RESULTS to be doing, it makes it easy to take action. But this is something that everyday constants could be doing, that we should be doing.”