by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International
I have walked the hallowed halls of Congress countless times for meetings with lawmakers and staff to learn from colleagues in issue briefings and roundtables, to attend Committee hearings, and yes to find a free snack or drink at a reception. My first time inside the Capitol for work, I was in awe and laughed when the woman at the desk checking my ID told me to, “turn right at the fifth chandelier” when directing me to my meeting. I have taken family members on tours, have ridden the underground tram, and have accompanied a Goodwill® program participant into the Speaker’s chamber.
Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been on the Hill in several months, as our meetings have been virtual. I watched in horror as the events of January 6 unfolded and an attack was made on our democracy, and the grounds where I’ve stood so many times were under siege. I feared for friends and colleagues I knew inside the building. This cannot be the norm, and our nation needs to begin healing. The divisiveness in our country has been festering for years and has reached an awful tipping point where people lost their lives.
We all need to play an active role in this healing. As a government relations professional, I will continue to advocate for bipartisan solutions that will help move our country forward while advancing the mission of Goodwill. I long for the days when I will be able to go back on the Hill and meet with dedicated public servants, and I have hope for better days ahead.
Below is a message from Steven C. Preston, Goodwill Industries International president and CEO:
“Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol was a chilling example of how words and actions can conspire to threaten that which we hold dear. We are thankful that the strength of our institutions, laws and norms prevailed and that the actions and proclamations of leaders across the political spectrum reinforced what we stand for. We should take confidence in that.
We should also pause, however, to consider what lies beyond the violence and criminality of these events. We are a country with deep divisions at a time when coming together to face profound challenges has seldom been more critical. We have a common enemy in COVID-19, which continues to threaten the economic and physical well-being of people and communities across the nation and exacerbate the inequities with which our society fiercely struggles. As a result, millions of our neighbors are experiencing deep stress and uncertainty in their lives. High unemployment and transitioning labor needs are causing a surge in the demand for employment services, such as those Goodwill® provides. We see similar demands for housing, food, medical attention and other forms of support.
This is a time when the strength of our convictions about who we are and what we stand for as individuals and leaders — working together for the common good — must prevail. Few times in our history have demanded more of us as lawmakers, business leaders, health care workers, nonprofits and neighbors. I believe our opportunity for common ground far exceeds our differences. We can reach that common ground when we commit to serve each other as we find our way forward.”