Blog: Surprises and Lessons from Outreach at the Library

By Lini Burton, 9to5 Action Network member
Tucson, AZ
September 2014

For 9to5’s National Day of Action, my friend Agnes and I went to a public library to tell people about the FAMILY Act – a federal bill that would allow people to take time off work and receive part of their paycheck while caring for themselves, a new baby, or a sick family member.

This was my first time doing outreach with the 9to5 Action Network. I thought maybe 1 out of 100 people would approach us directly, and it might be hard to start conversations. I was wrong! I’d guess we wound up speaking with probably 1 or 2 out of every 10 people who walked by, and half of them walked right up to us and wanted to know what we were about! I had created a poster with graphics of families caring for each other and the headline “No one should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love!” I think it was these powerful images that appealed to people walking by.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the FAMILY Act is absolutely necessary, that unpaid time off granted by an employer did little good if you cannot afford to actually take the time off. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to explain how paid family and medical leave insurance would work, because we felt like we had limited experience talking about the issue. But hey, we are resourceful mothers and caregivers!

I was able to watch the lightbulb go off, so to speak, as people understood how paid family and medical leave insurance would help their families. Many of the older people we spoke to said, “Oh, I don’t work anymore,” but when we asked more questions, they realized that the FAMILY Act might help their kids or grandkids – or in the future, allow their daughters and sons to care for them as they aged.

Most everyone we spoke to seemed disappointed that we still have a lot more work to do before this bill will become law. Several people asked what they could do to show their support! Here’s the first step: write to your legislators today. You can use 9to5’s action alert tool to send an email to your U.S. Senators and Representative right now!

My take is that the FAMILY Act is a great cause and one that is needed as soon as it can happen. Join me to help spread the word and build support!

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