Under the Gold Dome: A newbie's perspective

“Old home week."

My first-ever week at the Georgia General Assembly was like “old home week.” So although I am not from New England and rarely go back to my “home” city of Miami, I would describe the first week of the legislative session like this. From lots of excitement and greeting of people one hasn’t seen in a while, lots of pomp and circumstance each day to the Governor’s much anticipated State of the State address, the energy is palpable. I was also never in a sorority, but I would liken the first days at the capitol to a reunion of a college sorority or fraternity when you have a “connection” with the people that are gathering but you may not necessarily see them very often, agree with them or even like them.

Getting oriented.

On the first day at 9:15am, as I am just starting to learn my way around this beautiful, historical building, I made the mistake of walking up the stairs to the third floor on the North side of the Capitol. This is where the “for profit” or business lobbyists position themselves. It was buzzing with people and excitement. Then I realized as I reached the top of the stairs that our “meeting spot” was not there?  I looked around and realized I was on the “wrong side” of the Capitol. I made my way by the ropes of the House chambers only to look in and see many young children, fancily dressed also heading into the chambers. These were the children of legislators who were “allowed in” on this first day for a swearing in. How exciting this must be for them.

The People’s Building.

The South end of the Capitol was also buzzing; however at not nearly as high a pitch as the other end. I felt a little pang of disappointment. I am not yet in this sorority so I did not have old friends to greet. I felt a bit intimidated. I quickly recalled the words I heard in a recent advocate training when describing the Capitol - “this is the people’s building” – and straightened my back and held my head up to greet the few  familiar faces I could now see gathering in the “aging advocates” area.

 I can already see that this experience of advocating for seniors, the population I have the most affinity and love for (throughout all of my 20+ years as a social worker) will be filled with these ups and downs of emotions. There will be victories and there will be disappointments, but I am now a voice for all of those elders I love and I must have their (collective) voice heard! I will be continuing my “newbie blog” throughout the 2015 session. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like, I will share my journey with you so I hope you will feel “at home” and continue to read.