Every year the Greater Chicago Food Depository offers a limited number of scholarships for member agency representatives to attend the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, DC.  To apply next year, look for the scholarship application that is sent out in December.  
We will be featuring three guest bloggers from Food Depository member agencies who will share their experiences at this year’s conference.  The first is Tyler Grissom, Associate Director at the Willow Creek Care Center in Hoffman Estates.

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago with an opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for the 2012 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.  I had no idea really what I was getting myself into; I have never been to D.C. before and I have never attended an event like this.  The conference ended up far exceeding my expectations and I learned so much.  The thing that probably impacted me more than anything was when we visited the office staff of our Congressional Representatives on our final day.   I really felt comfortable in the meetings and I loved advocating on behalf of our Willow Creek Care Center families.  I told stories of families that I know personally and I could see compassion in the eyes of the office staff as I told them.  As I read one story, a legislative assistant shouted out, “That’s truly amazing! Can I have that story to give to the Senator?”  These interactions taught me the importance of advocacy and that our voices really do matter at a national level.  I really felt like I was heard and that I made a difference by telling the stories of the people we serve day to day at the Care Center.  
Showing back up to work at the Care Center every day has been different for me.  Attending this conference made me feel like I am in this line of work with a lot of other people and together we are making a significant difference in our communities around the country.  My vision for helping end hunger is much larger than it was before and I am now challenging others involved at the Care Center to advocate on behalf of those they serve.  I am telling more and more people these days of how incredibly important their voices are.  I also just recently found out that one of our Congressmen wants to come visit our Willow Creek Care Center because of the stories that were shared on Capitol Hill.  My hope is that he will be deeply impacted by visiting us and that he will be able to bring change at a national level that will eventually affect us in a positive way at a state level.  Our voices and our stories really do matter!