What’s in a word? Everything. Words matter. And, today we celebrate!
In July of 2011, GPNP and the Campaign for What Works (C4WW) learned this lesson the hard way. After campaigning together to restore half of the $168 million in human service cuts, we were told how lucky we were to get half since no politician wants to fund “welfare.” That was our epiphany — making sure a nursing home eligible poor widow who worked all her life in the school cafeteria now needing long term care is NOT welfare.
After a year and half of hard fighting, conjoling, building coalitions, developing creative messages, finding champions, the effort had stalled. We were only a couple votes shy of changing the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to Human Services. We were stuck on the five yard line.
During a critical strategic planning session with C4WW, GPNP, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the United Way of Allegheny County, and the Forbes Funds, we were almost ready to give up the fight. But then . . . .
John Lydon, Vice Chair of GPNP in his usual soft spoken, but direct tone rallied the team by saying, “this effort is hugely important. Getting rid of this stigma means everything to those who are forced to live it everyday. We can’t stop now!”
What made John’s argument so powerful was that he, like his fellow GPNP members, are on the front line working with consumers of human services. He knew and understood far better than any of us ever could. That is the power GPNP brings to initiatives like the Campaign for What Works.
And…..today we celebrate! Yesterday, September 24, 2014 Governor Tom Corbett signed HB 993, officially changing the name of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to the Department of Human Services.
John Denny, Denny Civic Solutions
– Fearless Leader of Campaign for What Works and advocacy partner with GPNP