We all remember the days when we were young and idealistic and had countless hours to make protest signs, march in demonstrations, and volunteer for advocacy organizations striving to make change or political campaigns for our beloved candidate. Now with full time jobs with high expectations, little kids, needy pets, or messy homes to clean, we’re so exhausted when we have free time, activism and volunteering seem unattainable and too time consuming to accomplish. However, with COVID-19 changing our daily lives, a renewed awareness and urgency around systemic racism and implicit bias, and the upcoming Presidential election with so much on the line, I know I feel a greater sense that I need to find time and ways to stay involved that work for me.
Here are five ways busy people can be involved in the change happening in our country today. These options don’t take much time but are attainable and can be slipped into your schedule when convenient.
1. Write Post Cards for Get out the Vote or Political Campaigns
Sites like Vote Save America have postcard writing opportunities that you can do from home. I signed up for a Get out the Vote postcard writing project which worked great for me. I wrote postcards in front of the TV at 10pm after my boys finally fell asleep. You will need to pick up the postcards from a designated local spot and purchase stamps. This is super easy and makes you feel like you are doing something to contribute to the upcoming election.
2. Write Letters to Elected Officials
After observing disturbing police behavior at local demonstrations near my home, I wrote a letter to the mayor, and I plan to write more in the coming weeks. I posted my letter on my blog. If you would like to write a letter to elected officials or your police chief about police brutality against people of color, you are free to use my letter as a template. City council meetings are also a great way to be heard, and now with most meetings going virtual, you can comment from the comfort of your kitchen table. Check out your local city council to find out when meetings are coming up and what is on the agenda.
3. Call your Representative or Senator
You might be thinking this doesn’t make a difference, but I worked in Congress for several months a few years ago and I can tell you from first-hand experience, it does! Members of Congress take very seriously the opinions of their constituents, especially in election years. I usually feel nervous about calling, and I find it helps to write down a script and read it. Usually an intern or low-level staff person answers the phone, so you just need them to record your opinion. It doesn’t matter if you fumble along on the phone. They will ask you for your name and contact information as well. Websites like CommonCause.org make it easy to find out how to contact your elected officials.
4. Make Calls or Text Voters
If you want to use your gift of gab to help turn the Presidential election this year, you can join a virtual phone bank for Joe Biden (If you’re a Trump supporter, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.). Other organizations like Commit to Flip Blue will connect you to campaigns in swing states where you can volunteer to make calls, write postcards, or text voters. You can usually do these activities during evening hours, which makes it possible to fit this in around other responsibilities. There are often texting options that allow even more flexible timing. Moms Demand Action also has a virtual Gun Sense Action Team that requires only one hour of time per week.
5. Volunteer Locally and Virtually
There are numerous ways to get involved locally, from supporting demonstrations, making donations, or participating on a board of directors. But with COVID-19, it may seem more difficult to find ways to stay involved. VolunteerMatch.org has a great resource for virtual volunteer opportunities that allow you to stay home and still make a difference. Organizations like Black Lives Matter and Moms Demand Action are also good places to look for local activism opportunities with virtual components.
Whatever your preference, it is possible to fit activism and volunteering into your busy life. Now more than ever, we all need to step up, even if only for one to two hours a week. And also, as always, wear your mask!