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Departments » Human Services » Aging Unit

What is Advocacy?

It’s simply trying to influence others who provide services or make policies that affect our lives.

You can get involved, here's how:

This website has links to valuable information to help you get started in having your voice heard. There is information on contacting your representative, for composing letters and emails and telling your story in a way that is meaningful and effective. Use the links below to find your local, state and federal representatives and learn more about and stay on top of issues important to you.
  • Personal Advocacy: Helping yourself or others understand their choices and/or get services. Sharing ideas at a support group, accompanying someone to an appointment or meeting with a service provider or others to help represent their needs.
  • Public Advocacy: Activities that educate the general public to gain understanding. Speaking to a club, church or other organization, writing a letter to the editor or submitting an article, posting a blog
  • Legislative Advocacy: Working to influence legislation on a local, state or national level. It is easier than you think. All it takes is a call, email, letter or meeting with your elected representative.
Advocacy makes a difference

Many of us think that ordinary individuals can’t make a difference. It takes just one person to initiate change. At this time it is more important than ever to share your expertise and experiences- to share your story.

No one person can understand every issue, but collectively if we raise our voices and share our stories we can be heard. It is especially important for those who represent others, such as elected officials and other policy makers to hear us.

All too often we say someone else will speak-up. We are that “someone else”, if we don’t speak-up, important information may never be shared, understanding won’t happen and poor decisions may be made affecting individuals and communities.

Advocacy Resources

Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging (GWAAR)
Advocacy page for GWAAR a support agency for organizations that serve adults age 60 and older. Explains advocacy and provides links to sheets with easy to follow tips on ways to reach your legislator and making your message more effective.

Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network
The Wisconsin Aging Network is comprised of public and private agencies and companies who serve seniors, their caregivers and providers. An important part of its mission is to advocate for issues important to the lives of the persons we serve. The Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network is designed for this advocacy role and will periodically issue papers on its platform.

Finding Your Representatives - Local, State & Federal


Shawano County Board of Supervisors-Supervisors names and contact information, you can email them from this site. Also list of committees, agendas and minutes. Find your supervisor and polling place.

Shawano City Council - Council members names and contact information, email from this site. Find your council member and polling place.

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Legislature - Enter your address to get the names and contact information for the state senator and representative from your district.

Federal for Wisconsin

United States Representative - Enter your zip code to get the names and contact information for your district representative. Also has a listing of representatives, committees and leadership.

United States Senators from Wisconsin - Contact information and links to the websites for state senators. Biographies, statistical information, phone list and an organizational chart that outlines committees and leadership is also included in the website.


Avoid the Long Lines - Vote Absentee
You can avoid long lines by voting absentee. Request an absentee ballot by mail, email or fax from your local municipal clerk. Or vote absentee, in-person at your municipal Clerk’s Office. For information about voting, instructions for absentee voting, to find your polling place, and/or to register to vote on-line go to My Vote Wisconsin.

State ID Card - How to get one free
If you do not hold a Wisconsin Drivers License and would like to obtain a state ID this website explains how to go about doing just that. If you request an ID Card for voting purposes you will not be charged. Go to this link Obtaining an Identification (ID) Card for more information. ID is Not Currently Required for Voting

Information on Issues


Advocacy page from AARP website. Up to date news and articles of interest to seniors. Links to federal and individual state issues and on-line tools for you to use to let your legislator know how you feel.

Administration on Aging
Federal agency whose mission is to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective system of home and community-based services that helps elderly individuals maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities. News and information about elder rights, health and prevention, home and community-based long-term care and much more.

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups CWAG
The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups CWAG is a non-profit, nonpartisan state-wide membership organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for people of all ages through: intergenerational understanding and leadership development, public education, legal and legislative advocacy and public policy development.

N4a Advocacy in Action Center
Advocates for services and resources for older adults and persons with disabilities. Information on issues, legislation, position papers and ideas. Topics include Older American's Act Reauthorization, enhancing the health and well being of older Americans, and livable communities.

Disability & Health

Kaiser Family Foundation Medicare & Medicaid Advocacy
Non-profit foundation provides policy analysis and research on health issues. News and information about health policy and develops and runs public information campaigns.

National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI
National organization with local chapters, there is one in Brown County, WI. Provides education, information, advocacy and more. Keep up to date with legislative issues, subscribe to the NAMI Advocacy magazine.

Wisconsin Council on Physical Disabilities
A state council created to make recommendations to state agencies on legislation, promote public awareness of and barriers to persons with disabilities and encourage development of programs and policies that prevent physical disabilities. The website provides links to citizen advocacy, civil rights and disability specific resources and services providers.

ROADS "Reaching Out About Depression and Suicide"
We are community members united in the purpose of increasing the recognition of the issues surrounding depression and suicide while creating awaremness of available resources, education, and support.

Long Term Care

Long Term Care Ombudsman
The Long Term Care ombudsman responds to complaints and problems of residents or recipients of long term care, such as care in nursing homes, community-based residential facilities, and services of the Community Options Program and managed long-term care programs. They work with all parties involved to investigate and look for solutions to problems.

Hot Topics

Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obama Care
The aging network plays a key role in informing and educating those who are 65+ and Medicare eligible, that they will continue to be Medicare eligible. In addition to being sure they know the ACA has expanded coverage for a variety of preventive services and will gradually eliminate the Medicare Part D "donut hole".

Health Promotion
Prevention is imperative to reduce health care costs. While the OAA requires prevention services the funding provided to run the programs is very inadequate. The network will work to pursue reimbursement opportunities that may be available and advocate for sufficient funding to efficiently coordinate and serve evidenced based prevention programs in Wisconsin.

Older Americans Act (OAA) - Reauthorization/Funding -
The OAA funds programs addresses basic services seniors need to stay healthy, independent, and out of the expensive long-term care system. Services such as home delivered meals, transportation, caregiver support, and prevention and wellness programs are just some of the programs. Sequester cuts add to the stress of these under funded programs. Although the Bipartisan Budget Agreement provides some relief from sequester cuts in 2014 and 2015. These cuts will continue into 2022 and 2023. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are now working to determine the specific level of funding OAA and other government funded programs will receive. Wisconsin does not have a legislator serving on any of the appropriations committees, but they still need to know how important these programs are and how devastating cuts would be to them.

Sequestration - the automatic federal spending cuts enacted in 2013 to run through 2021 - will have a large impact on Wisconsin aging programs causing reductions to meal programs, both congregate and home delivered meals, caregiver support, and prevention programs, such as exercise and falls prevention classes. Read about the heavy impact of sequestration in Wisconsin. Contact your federal legislator and share a story as to why sequestration is bad for seniors and bad for the economy.

Social Security/Medicare
Deficit reduction includes debates on reforms to Social Security and Medicare. The long-term solvency of Social Security must be addressed separately from discussions of the federal deficit. Any changes must ensure the adequacy of benefits, particularly for lower income, vulnerable older adults. Medicare reforms must take into account protections for the most vulnerable and emphasize prevention, coordination, and efficiencies, without jeopardizing quality or access to necessary services.

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