Our 2015-16 Alabama Advocacy Committee is composed of 10 individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart-health issues. Throughout the year, we will introduce some of our members. Today, we'd like you to meet Jessica James of Mobile.
Occupation: Executive Director of the McKemie Place, a homeless shelter for women
How long have you been a volunteer with the American Heart Association and in what capacity? State Advocacy Committee since June 2015; serving as vice-chairman this year.
Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the American Heart Association? Heart disease, much like strokes, are silent killers. Many people aren’t heart healthy until they’re forced to be. And for some, it’s too late before they’re aware.
What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why? Cholesterol checks and heart attacks in women. My father and two of his three sisters all had heart attacks and open heart surgeries. Many heart attacks are silent killers, and signs and symptoms are harder to recognize in women. As a woman, this is a deep concern for me with my family’s history of heart disease.
What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? Running and eating healthy
How is your community healthy? Mobile has a new outlook on exercise that is being carried throughout the city: ONEFit Mobile.
How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state? I work in, and I am active in politics in our state. I receive emails, phone calls and texts on a daily basis that keep me up-to-date.
If you could help advocate for one change in your state, what would it be and why? Awareness of the needs of others. Social media increasingly has made us more narcissistic as a whole. We need to turn our focus on helping others, which in turn helps all of us. “The tide rises all ships.” Also, more specifically, access to healthier food choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, for all — especially for those dependent on food stamps and other government assistance programs.
Do you have a favorite American Heart Association/
American Stroke Association event you attend annually? What is your motivation to participate? Mobile has an annual Heart Ball, that I love! My motivation to participate is watching the children who are the focus of the ball, knowing that heart conditions aren’t just found in adults.
Have you attended a state or federal lobby day on behalf of the American Heart Association? If so, please briefly explain your experience. I have lobbied on behalf of the AHA at our State Capitol. Knowing legislators helps, but everyone is interested in what we were advocating for on behalf of the organization.
What have you learned in your time being a You’re the Cure advocate? I’ve learned that the American Heart Association has been involved in crafting wonderful and important legislation — it’s not the AHA I thought it was. I’ve learned the many facets of the organization. More things are connected to the AHA than one would think!
Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure? For our health because our lives depend on it. The AHA does a terrific job of educating us on alternatives for a healthier lifestyle.
Tell us one unique thing about yourself. My co-workers tell me I am unique because I know how to find and make a bargain!