Learn How to Raise Your Pro-Choice Voice

Has the current assault on women’s right to choose and women’s health care made you want to take action to defend these basic rights? One of the ways you can do that is to become a Community Action Team (CAT) Volunteer at Planned Parenthood Arizona. If you’d like to help but you’re hesitating because you’re concerned about how well you would do talking about these important issues with people or legislators, I have good news for you!

Planned Parenthood has very good volunteer training programs that will help you feel confident and comfortable when meeting people. Also, new volunteers are always teamed with at least one other more experienced volunteer so you can learn by talking with, and watching, your fellow volunteers.

I have been volunteering with the Planned Parenthood Arizona CAT for three years and these training sessions have been really helpful. One of the training sessions I attended is called, “Talking About Tricky Subjects.” It is reassuring to know that just about everyone has the same concerns. What if I freeze up? What if I can’t remember a bunch of facts and figures to reel off? What if I just get mad and defensive?

But, this training helps all of us practice ways to speak with anyone (supporter or non-supporter) confidently because we learned that what we talk about is our own personal “world view” and beliefs. We do need to know a few general things about reproductive rights, but we don’t need to memorize a bunch of facts and figures.

I also learned some useful techniques for talking with people. Our group of volunteers paired-up and tried out these techniques with one another so it was a fun and comfortable way to practice, laugh, learn and share. One person would ask a typical question or comment we might receive when talking with someone and the other person would choose a technique for the response. Then we would switch roles. We could choose from the Touch and Go, the Hug and Go, the Springboard, and The Pick and Choose techniques. It was really helpful for me to try these out because, even though I’ve been volunteering for a while, I did some stumbling around, but the exercise really helped me learn where I needed to improve. Practice, learn, revise and practice some more.

Oh, one more thing about what these training sessions are NOT. They’re not: boring, endless, droning sessions. They are interesting, lively, sensitive to the time constraints of volunteers, interactive (Have a question? Ask it! A concern? State it!) and we actually have a good time during them (We’re a friendly group!).

I have to tell you that during my three years as a volunteer, I have canvassed many neighborhoods, talked with hundreds of street-fair attendees and asked them to sign petitions, and talked with hundreds of people at different community events, and in all those encounters I have had only two experiences that were slightly uncomfortable. Everyone else I have met has been genuine and straightforward. I also have had many, many people actually thank me for standing up for women’s rights and for volunteering for Planned Parenthood.

It’s been good to learn that in order to volunteer and stand up for women’s fundamental rights, I don’t have to have all the answers to every question and I don’t need to be able to reel off a bunch of facts and figures. And, honestly, I won’t get everyone to agree with me.

Don’t let your concerns about talking with people stop you from volunteering. Planned Parenthood’s training sessions won’t take a whole of your time, you’ll actually enjoy them, and you’ll have some take-home materials to review if you want to.

Volunteers have important work to do for the women in our community and state, so email our CAT Volunteer Coordinator TODAY and talk with her about how you can JOIN US.

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About Malinda B.

Malinda received a bachelor’s degree in writing and English literature and a master’s degree in creative writing. She followed her education with a career in advertising and direct mail. Her interest in feminism began in high school and continues to this day. She has been an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood for four years, knocking on doors and dialing at phone banks for pro-choice candidates, acquiring petition signatures to send to our legislators, and “manning” information tables at community events.