Sunday, July 03, 2011

My Very First National Gathering

My friend Kimberly Burge was asked to write a piece about the recent National Gathering 2011, based on some interviews with folks attending the event. She needed someone who had gone to many national gatherings, so she chose to interview me. One of the questions she asked was how many national gatherings I had attended. I responded that I didn't remember exactly, but I thought it was perhaps 10 or 12. 

This got me thinking about the first national gathering I had ever attended. So I went back to my photo albums. I think it was 1983 or 1984 (or 1985?). I had recently moved to Kansas City and had at that point recently joined Bread. The National Gathering that year was at Catholic University and not our recent usual venue of American University. There was no blogging or twitter or Facebook. (These were the days when we still did the bulk of our grassroots organizing by telephone.) 

Lobby Day with Gloria Lohrmann from St. Louis
On Lobby Day, there were just two of us from Missouri, Gloria Lohrman from St. Louis and myself. I was in the Missouri Fifth Congressional District, so my member of Congress was Rep. Alan Wheat.

I remember going into Rep. Wheat's office and meeting with the congressman himself.  He actually thought he would be meeting with a staff member, but when I told him I was a constitutent, his eyes lit up. I was wearing one of those early Bread for the World buttons with a yellow background and the emblem of the loaves and fishes. He asked where he could get one of those buttons. That was a great opening for me to give him my button!

I can't remember what the ask was, but a couple of days after the National Gathering, I got a call from one of his aides telling me that the congressman had cosponsored. (Incidentally, Alan went on to join the Select Committee on Hunger, created by his friend Rep. Tony Hall).

I don't remember much more from the gathering,  I think Todd Dietterle was my regional organizer,Art Simon was the president of Bread for the World and Kim Bobo was director of organizing.  I also know I met some great people! I am amazed that I still remember the names of two of the three people in the photograph below.  I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the person in the middle.  What I know is that Lisa Washington from northern California is on the left and Will Howie from Mississippi is on the right.  (In fact, I still have Will's business card!)

Incidentally, I found a lot of great photos in that old album, which I will scan and share them along with more stories about Bread during my days in Kansas City. So watch this space for those updates!

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