Five Questions with Volunteer Evelyn Saavedra
Role: Ambassador Constituent Team (ACT) Lead
Hometown: Denver, CO
Years volunteering for ACS CAN: 3
How did you first get involved with ACS CAN?
I had been volunteering for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for years, and Megan, who was running the Denver Making Strides called me one day and said, "We have Lobby Day coming up in Colorado. I think you would be a really good fit. You should go." I said, "I'm sorry, I'm not a lobbyist. I'm not a political person. I don't think I'm the right person," and she said, "No, we need you there." I was super intimidated, but she used the right words, "We need you there."
Right before we walked up to one of our representatives, one of the girls pulled me aside and said, "This guy is really mean. I don't want to let you go over there and get scared by him. He's going to say no to everything. He's going to be angry about it. Don't take it personally." I was like, "Okay, fine. Whatever, I've had plenty of ‘no's’ before in my career.”
We went over and talked to him. I went with someone who has been doing it for a while. I ended up getting into a debate with this representative and he turned one of his no's to a yes. We walked away and the person whose been doing it for a while said, "That guy has never said yes to anybody. We're looking for a lead volunteer in your congressional district. You need to be our new lead." The rest is pretty much history from there.
How did you feel after that first meeting with your representative?
I felt pumped. More importantly, I realized that I could have a greater impact talking to representatives and getting those no's to a yes, than I ever could fundraising on my own for Making Strides.
If someone were to say to you, “I’m not a political person, why should I get involved?” What would your response be to that person?
I'm not a political person either. That's part of it for me. I don't keep up with politics. I don't know all those political battles that are going on. I don't pay attention to the elections sometimes. I don't do any of that. I do care about how they're going to vote on matters that are important to me and I'm going to look into that. I'm not a political person. I am not Republican. I am not Democrat. I am a person who wants to have her voice heard. That's it.
What types of things do you do as a lead congressional district volunteer for ACS CAN?
There's a variety of different things. I organize meetings with our congressional representatives and volunteers. For Colorado lobby day, I help actually schedule appointments for the volunteers that come out to meet with their state representatives. I write letters to the Denver Post from time to time to try to get attention, when our congresswoman is not voting the way I'd like to see her vote or she's not giving the support we need.
Honestly, it doesn't take a lot of time to make a big impact. I think that's the thing that's intimidating to a lot of people. They think that, and I did when Chad talked to me about this role, that it’ll be like a part time job. I was like, "I don't have enough time to donate to this."
It's not 20 hours a week. There is one big week when we go to Washington, DC, and get a lot of education and also get opportunities to talk to our congressmen and senators, but, outside of that week, it doesn't take a lot of time. I have some busy weeks right before Lobby Day that takes me a good, between 5 to 10 hours, but other than that, it's 30 minutes to 2 hours a week max.
Final Thoughts …
The key thing is ACS CAN is not successful without people who are willing to tell their cancer story. Everybody has a different and unique story. Your story might be the one that turns that representative or that senator, that congressman's no to a yes. You never know whose story is the one that really impacts them until you say it.