They have been the fastest, most exhausting, most rewarding, and most humbling years of my life… And they result in a story in which the universe has played quite a large role.
On September 18, 2009 – ten years ago this week – the AdvoConnection Directory was launched. Just the directory. Here’s what it looked like:
Nothing like today’s directory! No, 10 years later, we’ve kept up with its growth, we’ve kept up with technology – AND we’ve kept up with MEMBERS.
It might surprise you to learn that having members wasn’t even in the cards when we first launched. The original intent was simply to provide a means for patients to find help. They could search and find one of the 30 – yes! only 30! – advocates who had listed themselves in the directory.*
No members> Not really. We had listed those people who self-described themselves as advocates, never realizing how quickly they would become overwhelmed by the number of people who needed their help. Nor did we realize that most were volunteers. As volunteers, with requests to work 24/7/365, many while maintaining other jobs, they could not sustain the work.
Which is when the universe kicked in.
Many readers of this blog know that my work in advocacy resulted from a heinous misdiagnosis in 2004. ? la “hell hath no fury” – my total disgust with the healthcare system resulted in my work as Every Patient’s Advocate. Eventually I realized that if many people were doing the work I was doing, then many, MANY more patients would benefit. The AdvoConnection idea-seed took root in my head.
Here’s when I realized the universe was speaking to me, when I realized that what advocates needed was NOT about advocacy – most already know advocacy and know it well. What they really needed was help starting and growing a business so they could SUSTAIN their advocacy work! Make a living at it! Do good by doing well in business!
So what does that have to do with the universe? All my education and skill development prior to launching AdvoConnection had been in two areas: education and marketing. Early in my career I spent 8 years as a classroom teacher. I then went back to school to learn business, resulting in a 30-year marketing career helping dozens of small businesses launch, teaching them the ins-and-outs of conducting business.
And what did advocates need> They needed to launch, and conduct business. And the universe sang! My passion and heart had caught up to my background and credentials!
I listened, intently, to the universe’s song…
Within just a few weeks of launching the AdvoConnection Directory, we began providing support for the business of advocacy. AdvoConnection evolved to become both a directory and a business support organization, too.
In Fall 2012, three years later, we changed the business support organization’s name to The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA) to allay confusion, and to describe that area of our work more clearly. In fact, one way we have celebrated our 10 years is to update the APHA homepage. Do you see any familiar faces?
So Happy Anniversary to Us!
We’ve got quite the celebration going here!
First, you’ll see an addition to our logo on all our related websites – 10 years!
Second, we want to thank 5 people who were listed in the AdvoConnection Directory the day it launched, and remain listed today.* We appreciate them!
> Karen Mercereau
> Rocky Gabriel Bennewitz
> Beth Morgan
> Sima Kahn
> Elisabeth Schuler
… plus 6 more who were listed within just a few months of our 2009 launch, and remain listed in today’s directory, too*. Additional appreciation to:
> Linda Garvin
> Mary Scroggin-Harris
> Lorie Gardner
> Jacqueline O’Doherty
> Dianne Savastano
> Vik Rajan
We’ve come a long way…? from those original 30 people to 600+ today. We’ve seen thousands of members come and go. We’ve had our ups and our downs. We have weathered the politics of healthcare, the increasing costs, and perhaps the worst part – the increasing numbers of patients who are harmed each year by the system that is supposed to help them.
And yet – we persist. Because we know we are doing good work. And we know how desperately patients need us.
What are we doing to celebrate?
We have three gifts for you!
- A free download for you from this site: 10 years and 10 posts: A Sampler? The most popular and iconic of the 400+ posts we’ve added to this site over the years. Yours for free!
- Whether or not you are a member of APHA, we invite you to attend our Expert Call-in coming up September 30, 2019 called: Selling Your Advocacy Practice: Considerations and Planning? You can read about the call and register here.
- If you are still in the thinking stages – you haven’t decided whether or not you really want to commit to advocacy – you’ll love this! A new podcast series called: Is Independent Advocacy Right for Me? Listen to the podcasts to help you decide whether you want to pursue advocacy further. Learn about the series here. We hope you find it useful.
Finally – in the title to this post, I promised you a challenge… and here it is:
10 years in, there are thousands of patients who have benefited through the efforts of the hundreds of advocates who work to help them every day.
Sadly – thousands of patients is a mere drop in the bucket of need.
So my challenge to you, as we move forward into our next decade, and whether or not you are currently working with patients, is to take on the song of the universe yourself. SING the praises of advocacy! Promote its benefits hither and yon! If you think you talk a lot about it today – then double your efforts to help our profession, and to increase the number of professionals who call themselves advocates. Patients need us all !
THAT is the challenge. To recognize where we came from and where we’ve been – and to push us in the future way beyond where we are now.
I have no idea if I’ll be here 10 years from now to catch you up on where we are then… I hope so! Regardless, I hope you’ll join me in the interim as we continue to provide patients with the hope and resources they need, and the improved outcomes, and peace of mind that results.
My humble thanks to you all,
*Where did the remaining 19 people go? Most have retired.
A few have died 🙁 A handful have moved into other areas beyond advocacy because they just could not sustain their practices.