Planned Parenthood Utah launches ambassador program
Among the issues currently facing the Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, from nagging misperceptions about what Planned Parenthood does, to the threat of losing federal funding, at least one of their problems can be characterized as a good one to have. There is a strong base of support and people who want to do more, but for simple logistical reasons, PPAC Utah has not always been able to take advantage of that enthusiasm.
"We have a lot of supporters across the state who want to get more involved but our administration, our volunteer program, they’re based in Salt Lake City," said Liz Owens, community engagement coordinator. "So we’ve been thinking about different ways to harness that energy, to provide people with support and information so they could represent Planned Parenthood within their own sphere of influence."
The result? PPAC Utah’s brand-new ambassador program, for which they are holding launch parties all over the state this month. A launch party will be held for Summit County residents at the Summit County Library – Kimball Junction Branch from 3 – 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15. The idea is that people who want to support Planned Parenthood can now do so in their own towns, in their own neighborhoods. Owens said the launch parties are meant to get people started and provide some guidance, but it’s really up to each individual to make the ambassador role their own.
"We’ll give them the information they need to get started, some fun swag like a T-shirt," she said. "It’s really about helping them to spark conversations in their own lives, to spread the message about reproductive justice, the truth about Planned Parenthood and the services we provide and the role we serve in the community."
Owens said the ambassador launch parties are off to a great start — the first party, held last week in Cottonwood Heights, exceeded expectations.
"We were sort of thinking about 20-25 folks and we had 50 RSVPs before we had to close it down because of the capacity of the venue," she said.
The ambassador launch parties may be filling up, but Owens said PPAC Utah has set no ceiling on the number of ambassadors they are willing to support.
"It’s limitless, really, because this is a grassroots level engagement," she said. "If someone wants to throw a party, for example, we would provide a toolkit, but the ambassador program is really about people incorporating this action into their own lives in whatever way best works for them."
Ultimately, Owens said, the ambassador program is about putting faces to the statistics. They can release charts and graphs that show how valuable Planned Parenthood is not just to individuals but to whole communities, but sometimes what it takes is knowing someone personally who benefited.
"We’d like the ambassadors to speak their truth and tell their stories, whether it be them or a friend or family member. Just be out there talking about how Planned Parenthood has helped them."
Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah will hold an ambassador launch party in Park City from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15. The event will be held at the Summit County Library – Kimball Junction Branch, 885 W. Ute Blvd. RSVP at PPACUtah.org/get-involved/ambassadors.
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