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Continued Learning Empowers Advocate

Apr 12, 2023 | Newsletter

Catherine Rogers has a mission.

And it’s one that the Food Bank of the Southern Tier Community Advocate Training program is helping her achieve.

Catherine, who lives in Smithboro, was part of the charter group of trainees back in 2016 when the program was called the Speakers Bureau. She completed an eight-week refresher on how to effectively communicate her lived experiences and advocate for those things that are important to her.

In Catherine’s case, “I have a plan to bring attention to the lack of food nutrition in the county jails and New York State prisons,” she says.

“When people get out, the state has to pay for their medical care, and it seems like it would be cheaper to fix it before it becomes a problem.”

It’s a personal issue for Catherine, who has direct experience, and one that the Community Advocate’s training has helped bring into better focus.

“I wanted to learn how to structure my thoughts so others could follow what I was saying,” she says. “It’s about getting the point across quickly and concisely to make an immediate impact.”

Equally important is developing the skill of active listening, which is a big key for Catherine.

“They stressed the importance of active listening. It’s very important, especially when you’re a talker like I am. To actively listen is different from just being in the room and hearing what’s being said. It’s a focus on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.”

Getting the chance to complete the refresher was helpful in the process.

“I found it useful and, after the fact, necessary,” Catherine adds. “Sometimes you don’t know how much you need something until you get it.”