Bringing Addison County to Washington D.C.

What does it mean to advocate and support the community?

It means to elevate and amplify voices! Last week, United Way of Addison County staff, including Sylvie Choiniere (Director of Advocacy), Celia Heath (Public Health and Advocacy Coordinator), and Helena Van Voorst (Executive Director), had the chance to meet with Federal Delegates during the United Way Advocacy Forum and Capitol Hill Day. They met with Representative Becca Balint, Legislative Staff from Senator Peter Welch’s Office, and left materials with Senator Bernie Sanders regarding priorities that need Federal support. During these conversations, they talked about priority areas for Addison County, including housing, workforce, healthcare access, food insecurity, transportation, and our aging population. Information gathered from the 2023 Addison County Data Meeting through funded partners and other local community organizations was shared with the offices to amplify the need for federal support. UWAC staff was there to amplify the voices of our community and bring awareness to the long waitlist for healthcare and mental health services due to the workforce and the housing crisis, coupled with the average age of residents rising and the need for additional services. 

Additionally, UWAC staff discussed the need for support around the United Way Worldwide priorities, including the Help Act to support 2-1-1 funding nationally in order to provide this service 24/7. The continued support of the 2023 Farm Bill would help support SNAP Benefits and address food insecurity nationally and locally. However, UWAC Staff raised concerns about Delta 8 and Delta 10 synthesized cannabinoids derived from hemp that have psychoactive effects and are being manufactured into candies, fruit drinks, and other youth-targeted items. Coalitions across the nation are looking for Federal Support to ban these cannabinoids from the market. Another priority included the Charitable Act to incentivize philanthropy by providing additional federal tax incentives for charitable donations for individuals, foundations, and businesses. This would help non-profits recoup from Covid-19, in which there was a major decrease in donations. Lastly, UWAC staff thanked the Federal Delegates for their continued support for substance use prevention and mental health needs and their openness to conversations and support for their constituents. 

What is the goal of these meetings?

UWAC’s goal in meeting and developing relationships with Federal Delegates is to be a resource and quickly respond to data needs (anecdotal, quantitative, and qualitative). These relationships help connect the community to the ears of federal support and ensure the needs of Addison County are seen and heard. 

How can I help and get involved? 

To learn more about what is happening in Addison County, please check out information from the 2023 Addison County Data Meeting. If you would like to donate, please click here! We are all in this together and working to build a healthy and thriving Addison County!

Contact Sylvie Choiniere for more information.