Saturday, March 10, 2007

I started my day at 4 a.m. in Topeka. It's now midnight and I'm back in Hutchinson.
This morning was our annual legislative breakfast for Compeer. The various programs in the state convene at the capitol and provide donuts and cinnamon rolls for anyone in the capitol who wants to stop by. We talk about Compeer, which is a mentoring program for adults and children recovering from a mental illness.

It gives us a chance to visit with everyone and tell them a bit about the program.

This morning was especially fun - I ran into Jeff King from dialogue, and visited with him briefly. I also saw Mark Treaster for a few minutes. I was hoping I'd run into Jan Pauls, but I didn't see her.

I was flattered that Tom Hawk remembered my "This I Believe" piece from Kansas Dialogue last year. He asked if it was available anywhere, which prompted me to locate it online tonight and send it to him.

All in all it was a successful morning. I rather enjoy the process. I liked doing it for the MHA last year in DC, too, although I was pretty much just listening and learning. I found out this past week that I'll probably get to go to that conference again this year, so that will be a cool.

When I talk about enjoying visiting legislators the looks people give me are very similar to the ones I get when I mention that I like public speaking. Sometimes I think this may not be the "norm."
But I think of it as just an information exchange - there's no way people, even legislators, can know all the details about everything. And Compeer is a fabulous program so it's good to be able to tell its story and demonstrate that taxpayers are getting something significant for the money devoted to this program. Although it's not a huge amount of money for the state, it's huge for these programs. We couldn't provide the service without that funding.

The friendship that people develop in a Compeer match has a dramatic impact on the lives of the people involved. That friendship is often cited as a reason people are able to develop more social skills, or go back to work or school. People with a Compeer friend are much less likely to be hospitalized, which is a huge money saver. It's a good program, so it's easy for me to speak positively about it.

I guess that's the deal for me. If it's something I can be completely positive about while being totally honest it's very easy to promote it. I just can't be in a position where I have to fudge the truth or make things look better than they are. Fortunately, it's easy to be positive about Compeer.

I got back to Hutchinson tonight in time to go to Andrea's loft for a birthday gathering. I had thought I wouldn't be back, but really wanted to go. I'll have more photos to share, but - of course - we need a photo of the birthday girl - opening presents, naturally!