I was hesitant when Cris Montiero and Melissa Tiernman asked me to head up the POCA Welcome Wagon committee. Why? For a few reasons. I was a lousy Welcome Wagon volunteer when Kim Deane was the coordinator (Sorry, Kim). It’s time consuming to sit down and call EVERY POCA Member to personally thank them for joining. I joined the Clinic Success circle because I struggled as a new punk, and I want to do what I can to help other punks.
I am about one month in to this position. I make lots of phone calls every week. I leave lots of messages. It’s grunt work. BUT, when I do make a personal connection and say, “Hi, I am Elizabeth, I calling from People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. I want to thank you for joining and welcome you to POCA,” there is always a fantastic personal exchange. Most patient members don’t have a ton of time to talk, but they are thankful for the call. Our main purpose is to make sure that they have access to their free treatment cards. Who doesn’t want free stuff? It’s another tier of telling our patients that “We want you here.” I learned from the long time community organizers that I met through my local Occupy Movement, that if you want people to come to your meetings, you have to make a lot of personal phone calls. This is building consensus.
And, my original desire to help out other punks IS being fulfilled through Welcome Wagon. We call brand new punk members, some who have yet to take a CA 101 class and don’t know where to begin. What could I say to myself when I was first learning about CA? I find myself saying “Oh, you live in Arizona. Do you have time to take a road trip to Tuscon and meet Keith, Larry, and Michelle, and then stop over to meet Ellen and Josh? Call me anytime, here’s my number.”
I am collaborating with great punks who are taking time slog through this work with me. I have stronger connections now with my comrades in Urbana,IL, British Columbia, Oakley,CA, and Providence RI.
Being part of organization that involves collective leadership, no longer means that I have to answer to a faceless “they” anymore. I have no idea whose face belong to the signatures on my NCCAOM certificate and I don’t know they actually do for the acupuncture profession. I do know that it has little to do with the patients that I share laughs with before tucking them in. The people who signed my Clean Needle certificate have nothing to do with the the buzz of a busy clinic and the joy I share with my co-workers, and the hugs I exchange at POCAfests.
Come Monday evening I will be back to slugging away, leaving messages and hoping at least one or two new POCA members will pick up their phone. If you have been thinking about getting involved with some circle work, please do. It’s the best grunt work you will ever do.