This post was written by Gretchen Hammer, a former member of our team.
Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a week in our Nation’s capital for the annual Georgetown Center for Children and Families Children’s Health Coverage Conference. For the first time ever, I was also able to bring my children. We loved the trip, despite the humidity, which nearly did in my eight year old a couple of times.
As I think about the conference and trip I have four general reflections.
- Public transportation is good for your health. We traveled by metro and bus the whole week. While it took a bit longer, and at times was a bit inconvenient, I appreciated the walks between the metro stops and the destination. It felt good to stretch my legs after a long day in meetings and after meals. It also gave me time to engage with my colleagues and my family as we walked from place to place. My colleagues at CCMU have written eloquently about life at 3 miles per hour and I certainly understand the appeal.
- Kids’ health is a precious resource. This reflection may seem a bit obvious, but when we are down in the weeds on specific health insurance policy issues, the end product of our work, healthier kids, can feel far off. However, one of the conference’s national speakers reminded all of the attendees why the gains we have made in health insurance coverage for kids is so important. He remarked, “You all deserve thanks. What an incredible gift you have given this nation.” His comment touched my heart and reminded me why we have focused so heavily on improving health insurance coverage for kids through our All Kids Covered partnership.
- It is important to know our history. On the first night of the week, my family and I did a bike tour of the monuments. We started with Jefferson, then on to FDR, the Korean War monument, Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, World War II, and the Washington monument. In three hours’ time, we learned about these key figures and events and experienced the incredible tributes to each of them. I was moved by the quotes and testimonials at each monument. They were a glimpse back in time to the emotion and sacrifices of the day. My dad served in Vietnam and I shed a tear at the number of names on the black walls.
This blast through our nation’s history reminded me that in the past we have confronted what seemed like insurmountable challenges and have found a way to move forward as a nation. Times are tough right now for health policy and our political system. Connecting with our nation’s history bolstered my confidence that we can and will get through these times.
- Improving the world is the right thing to do. I always knew I would work in the nonprofit or human service sector. I distinctly remember, at age 20, telling my college boyfriend’s parents that my goal was to someday be the Executive Director of a nonprofit. Over the years I have struggled to explain my passion for mission-driven work. Dr. King summed it up for me: “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”