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Volunteers Embark on a Road Trip with Heart!

Texas advocates embarked on an epic road trip in August of 2016, traveling across our big state in search of Congressional supporters and cosponsors, and thanking others for their decision to support our federal level advocacy priorities in the 114th Congress. During the trip we kicked off our boots and met with:

Congressman Marc Veasey – Ft. Worth (July 21). Meeting with the Congressman were volunteers Tara Robinson, Denise Smith Ladd, and LaShanda A. Davis, accompanied by staff member Aschelle Morgan.

Congressman Blake Farenthold – Corpus Christi (July 28). Meeting with the member was volunteer Carol Scott, along with staff Erin Wilder (Corpus Christi Executive Director) and Advocacy Team member Kaitlyn Murphy.

Congressman Sam Johnson – Plano (August 11). Meeting with Congressman Johnson’s staff were volunteers LaVera Caston, Beatriz Champagne, Towry Barnard, and Elaine Bullard. They were accompanied by Grassroots Director, Victoria Nelson.

  

Congressman Joe Barton – Arlington (August 17). We met with staff from Representative Barton’s district office, alongside volunteers Connie Kerr and Ruma Brown. Victoria Nelson also tagged along for this one.

 

Congressman John Carter – Round Rock (August 25). We met with the Congressman in this meeting, and included volunteers Andy Martinez, JJ Parker and Jeff Parker. They brought along AHA Local Policy Manager, Kelsey Bernstein.

Congressman Beto O’Rourke – El Paso (August 26). We wrapped up our Texas road trip with another member meeting with Congressman O’Rourke. Volunteer Annette, Torres joined Voices For Healthy Kids Campaign Director, Christopher Walker.

  

 Thank you to You're the Cure advocates who joined us on this epic #RoadTripwithHeart! Check out the recap video below:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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Looking for Interns with Heart!

Are you a student in Austin who wants to intern with the American Heart Association? Our advocacy team is looking for interns this fall who want to learn more about, and assist us in, advocating for heart healthy policies in our state and nation!

Interested students can apply here

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Round Rock City Council Passes E-Cigarette Ordinance

On Thursday September 8th, the Round Rock City Council took a big step towards health by unanimously passing a proposed e-cigarette ordinance! This ordinance essentially states that e-cigarettes are no longer allow anywhere that traditional cigarettes are. We applaud the City Council for their efforts and their leadership in protecting the health of Round Rock residents and workers. We also want to thank the volunteers who sent emails, came to City Council meetings, and testified- your actions clearly made a difference!

We believe, however, that this step is just the first. Now is the time for the City of Round Rock to pass a comprehensive smoke-free indoor workplace ordinance. Currently, 52 other Texas cities have a comprehensive smoke-free ordinances that protect ALL of their workers from toxic exposure to secondhand smoke, even those who work at bars. 

If you live in Round Rock and want to see your city go smoke-free, email Samantha Bender (Samantha.Bender@Heart.org)

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Video: Not everyone in Austin has access to healthy food.

Nearly 3.4 million people across Texas have little or no access to healthy food like fruits and vegetables. These same neighborhoods often struggle with high rates of unemployment and diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Even in cities like Austin, Texas – ranked #2 Among Best Places to Live in the US, according to U.S. News & World Report, March 2016. Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health is out of reach.

Healthy food financing programs can help. These programs can help local grocers to open, expand, and improve grocery stores and corner stores in neighborhoods that need food and jobs the most. 

Healthy food financing programs are also good for the economy. They create jobs for people living in the neighborhood, create markets for farmers, and have the potential to lower health care costs.

Watch our new video for real food access stories from Austin residents.

Is healthy food access a challenge for you or your loved ones? Would you like to improve healthy food access for individuals across the state? Sign up at Yourethecure.org to get involved!

- Christina Holch, Campaign Director

Contact Christina Holch at christina.holch@heart.org

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Smoke-Free Fort Worth Campaign Launches!

On Wednesday August 24th, Smoke-Free Fort Worth officially launched its campaign for a smoke-free ordinance in the North Texas city. Fort Worth is the largest city in Texas to not yet have a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance on the books.

The launch event was held at Billy Bob's, once the largest opponent to a smoke-free ordinance which has now voluntarily gone smoke-free. With over 150 people in attendance, the Smoke-Free Fort Worth coalition released its poll results that show 91% of Fort Worth residents agree everyone deserves the right to breathe smoke-free air in public places and at work.

“As a leader of one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the country, along with being a proud Fort Worth resident, it is imperative for our city to be one of the healthiest places to live and work,” said Barclay Berdan, chief executive officer of Texas Health Resources. “I am humbled to be a member of the Smoke-Free Fort Worth coalition, but it’s an honor not taken lightly. I hope other North Texans realize the magnitude of this initiative, for the health of all workers, friends, family and generations to come.”

Smoke-Free Fort Worth is a coalition of local organizations, businesses, and residents (including the AHA) committed to ensuring everyone in Fort Worth has the right to breathe smoke-free air at work. For additional information and to see how you can get involved, email Aschelle Morgan Aschelle.Morgan@Heart.org

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Meet Andy Martinez, Champion for Smoke-Free Workplaces

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the American Heart Association and the work that we do.  We are constantly amazed by our volunteers' commitment to advocate for healthier lives and to help save lives through policy change.  We are pleased to spotlight Andy Martinez as this month's volunteer champion.

Name: Andy Martinez

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Community Volunteer

How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association? Since 2007

Why do you advocate for smoke-free communities?

I personally experienced how smoking can affect one’s health…I lost my Dad when he was 54 years old due to heart disease brought on by smoking. I believe that by living in the U.S. we all enjoy rights and privileges, as long as they don’t affect the rights and privileges of others.

What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?
Spend time with my family and my grandchildren (3 boys) … and playing golf.

Can you please share about the work you have been doing so far to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke via the Smoke-Free Round Rock campaign?

I have advocated on why it is important that all residents of Round Rock should be able to work, play and enjoy their family time in a healthy environment. I have been a spokesperson at the Round Rock Express Heart night, filmed a short video for the campaign, have written letters to Round Rock policy-makers as well as visited individually with elected officials and well-respected community leaders. I have also spoken on behalf of the campaign to 2 Williamson County organizations. El Amistad Club of Round Rock and Citizens for Diversity in Leadership Roles (CDLR) a civic engagement PAC.

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Round Rock Smoke-Free Efforts Continue

Our efforts to help protect all Central Texas workers and residents from secondhand smoke continue.  The Round Rock City Council will soon vote on an ordinance that will help regulate Electronic Cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices. The ordinance ensures that E-Cigarettes don’t receive special exemptions and loopholes from current smoking restrictions.

This is a step in the right direction, but that is not enough to protect all Round Rock residents.

A recent poll shows that 74% of Round Rock residents favor a new smoke-free ordinance that would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces, including bars, in order to protect ALL workers.

Mark King, owner of Fleet Feet Sports, is one of those supporters. Check out why he supports a smoke-free Round Rock!

Our volunteers have been key in getting us this far but we’re not there yet! If you live in Round Rock Please take a minute to send an email to your City Council letting them know you support protecting ALL workers in your city!

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We need your help: Calling all stories

Our volunteers are our eyes and ears in the community. Help the AHA by identifying your friends, coworkers, neighbors, family members, or community members who may have a story to share related to heart disease and stroke.

It’s important for our legislators to hear stories from or about real Texans who would benefit from local smoke-free ordinances, increased access to healthy food, and more! These stories highlight the need for policy changes that make a real difference in the health of individuals and communities across our state. 

Please consider if you or anyone you know can help with the following:

Smoke-Free Efforts

Share positive stories: Email Samantha Bender at Samantha.Bender@heart.org with any good stories of people who have been impacted by exposure to secondhand smoke at their workplace, benefits to businesses that went smoke-free, or any other positive stories related to a community passing a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance.

Recruit more You’re the Cure advocates: Let us know about good local opportunities to table at events to collect smoke-free petition cards and grow our community of You’re the Cure advocates. It is always helpful if you can help support the effort by attending the event and tabling with us as well.  Contact Samantha Bender at Samantha.Bender@heart.org with any opportunities.

Obesity Prevention Campaigns

Food Access Stories Needed: We need your help in identifying community members you may live, work, play or pray with who may have a story to share about difficulty accessing healthy food. Perhaps they live in an urban or rural “food desert” and can speak to their challenges finding affordable and healthy food in their neighborhood. Perhaps their community just lost a store where they had been able to purchase those foods previously, or they might even be a business owner who had to close their store due to lack of financing. Disinvested and/or minority communities often face limited access to healthy food.

Our goal is to collect these experiences in writing or through video so we can share the real story of food access in Texas – and if anyone would like to come advocate with us in person, they would be more than welcome! Would you be able to introduce us to any individuals or groups that seem like a good match? If you’re not sure if they live in a food desert, that’s okay, we are happy to find that out. Please email Victoria.Nelson@heart.org with any recommendations or to receive suggested questions if you want to collect the stories on your own!

Share your story today!

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Meet Jane Redford, Our Heart Warrior

Name: Jane Redford
Occupation: Director of Business Development at a tech company

How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association?

I’m just getting started after my open heart surgery (which was April 11). I’m getting involved in the Dallas area.

Why do you advocate to build healthier lives and communities, free of heart disease
and stroke?

Because I was fortunate enough to get a second chance. I want to help create second chances for more heart warriors.

What are your passions and your interests in life?

Adventure is my passion. I have a stacked bucket list. Now that I have this second chance, I’m more thrilled than ever to cross everything off of it. I’m want to cross most
of the items off with people I love. Life has never felt fuller and more exciting, and I want to share that with the people in my tribe. (I love being outdoors, being in the water (I’m most at home by a lake or ocean, traveling, cooking and writing.)


What is your all time favorite thing to do on your time off?

Travel! Camping, hiking, exploring a new city, etc.


Can you please share about the work you have been doing so far to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke?

Raising my voice as an advocate for heart disease early detection. I want to educate people on symptoms that indicate congenital heart disease, and how to prevent heart disease. I also want to use my voice to help all states adopt an early detection program for congenital heart disease.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Allison Pierce

Please meet our new American Heart Association volunteer leader and Arkansas State Advocacy Committee member, Dr. Allison Pierce.  

Hometown: Dallas, Texas     Current town: Springdale, Arkansas

Favorite movie: Stand By Me
Hobbies: cooking, gardening, home improvement projects, playing with my dogs
Pets: Kizzy (4-year-old blue heeler mix), Red (2-year-old boxer mix), Bill and Pi (2-year-old carpet pythons)

Role model: When in doubt, I look to my mother, who taught me patience, accountability, honesty, kindness, and generosity while making sure I understood that life is precious and to be lived fully every day.

Greatest achievement: I am an aunt to a wonderful four-year-old named Lily, and there is another little one on the way. While this is not necessarily my own achievement, it has brought me more joy than anything else I have experienced, and I have absolutely loved getting to know my younger sister as the beautiful nurturer that she has become. As far as my own achievements, I am looking forward to finishing my psychiatry residency. The path to becoming a physician has required years of focus and commitment, so that day will be quite a milestone.

Two celebrities or historical figures you would want to have dinner with (living or not) and why them? This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many. Maya Angelou comes to mind since her writing has been an inspiration to me for almost my entire life. I hear she could throw a great party, and I would love to talk to her about life, love, politics, and a host of other topics. Slavenka Drakulic is another strong and passionate woman who has inspired me. She endured the oppression of communism and still found joy in life while standing up to her oppressors, often at great risk to herself. She has inspired me in many ways, and I would enjoy hearing some of the more personal stories that don't make it into her writings. If I were hosting a dinner for historical figures or celebrities, it would most certainly be a large group.

Why is advocating with the AHA important to you? Heart disease runs in my family, so it is an issue that hits close to home for me. In my experience as a physician, I have seen the far reaching social, physical, and mental effects of heart disease. It is largely preventable, and advocacy is an integral component in providing education and resources that will empower people to take care of themselves.

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