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Orange County women celebrate Men’s Breakfast

Melissa Johnson and Jan Day, Co-Chairs of WOV Orange County, with World Vision's Steve Reynolds

Melissa Johnson and Jan Day, Co-Chairs of WOV Orange County, with World Vision’s Steve Reynolds

“It takes a few minutes to make a phone call that can make a difference in millions of lives.” – Steve Reynolds

Advocate n. 1) a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. 2) a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf.

Steve Reynolds, 30-year World Vision veteran and Director of its Advocacy Integration and Campaigns team, brought his broad and compassionate perspective on how advocacy makes a difference to the Women of Vision Orange County’s Men’s Breakfast held at the Shady Canyon Country Club on Tuesday morning, January 20th.

Steve captivated us with his stories of how just one piece of legislation can change the landscape for a vast number of children worldwide and bring hope to millions.

On December 15, 2014 at 8:09 pm EST, the United States Senate adjourned, but before they did, they passed the Water for the World Act, a bill with far-reaching implications for millions of children around the world who need clean, safe water just to survive. When 740 million children die each year of preventable water-related causes, it takes leadership to provide the right solutions, and Women of Vision is part of the solution.

Steve praised Congress for getting this one right and thanked the Women of Vision Orange County Chapter for their advocacy efforts. He said, “You helped pass a law that will bring water, sanitation, and hygiene to the people and the places with the greatest need. You may never meet these people, but you know that because of your work, girls will now have the chance to go to school, infants will have a reduced chance of dying from preventable causes, such as diarrhea and pneumonia, and entire communities will have the opportunities they need to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Steve gave special thanks to Bobbi Dauderman, Women of Vision Orange County Advocacy Chair, for her direction in organizing the chapter’s efforts.

A highlight of Steve’s talk was when he related his first opportunity to entertain Bono of the Irish rock band U2 and Bono’s wife, Ali Hewson, in the 80’s. Not being that familiar with U2 at the time, Steve was just expecting a photo-op with needy African children, an image that had become popular among celebrities ever since Band Aid became well known. Little did he know that Bono would become extremely committed to African needs.

Many people remember the lyrics to the popular 1984 Africa advocacy’s song, “Do they know it’s Christmas,” and the subsequent relief effort in response to the unfathomable 3 million people who starved to death as a result of drought and conflict in Ethiopia and surrounding countries. Due to the success of this project and the publicity it garnered, many celebrities (and wannabes) were coming through the World Vision’s Ethiopia relief office in Addis Ababa primarily to have their picture taken within the context of the famine. But Bono and Ali were different.

What made this trip special was that Bono and Ali actually wanted to get their hands dirty. They wanted to see and work in Africa. Because the conditions were horrific, no one expected to see them last more than a week. But they did. In fact, they spent almost a month in Adjibar working with Steve and his staff. Bono traded in his rock star status for a tireless compassionate heart. Steve says, “He wanted to hold every child and comfort every mother.”

For 30 years now, we have watched Bono use his celebrity as currency, and he spends it very well. With an ever increasing vision, Bono speaks to presidents, prime ministers, and even the pope. His passion commands attention as he advocates for the poor and marginalized. “It’s not about charity,” says Bono. “It’s about justice.”

Trying to help us understand how each of us can have more impact than we realize, Steve asked us to consider, “If God is moving you heart about a particular issue, tell someone else about it. It’s that simple. The more your passion shines through, the more likely others will follow your lead.”

The newest bill we can influence is the Girls Count Act (H.R.3398). It’s a bill that passed the House last year, but not the Senate, and will need to be re-introduced in this year’s session. It will provide support for the registration and documentation (birth certificate) of all girls and boys in developing countries to prevent exploitation, violence and other abuses.

Since we all use our smart phones every day, Steve recommended we take a few minutes to make a phone call that can make a real difference in the lives of the poor and marginalized. Few in the audience were aware that it only takes a phone call from just 10 people in one day for a member of Congress to take notice of an issue. And, if we do not know how to connect with our members of Congress, we can call 202-224-3121 to have an operator connect us directly.

To underline how easy it is to be an effective advocate, Steve pulled out his iPhone, put it on speaker so we could hear the exchange, and called his area representative. When a representative picked up the call, Steve simply stated his name, identified the specific issue, and encouraged action be taken.

“Advocacy in Action. It’s that simple!” Steve exclaimed.

“You can change thousands of lives by becoming a World Vision advocate,” Steve concluded. “When you read about or hear from Women of Vision Orange County partners asking for action, they are asking you to make one and maybe two 30- second calls to your Congressional representatives in support of a bill that will make a difference in the lives of the poor and marginalized.”

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