603 Stories – The Impact of Legislation on Mental Health


Jace Troie (he/him) Hello everyone, and welcome back to the 603 Stories podcast, a mental health podcast made by young adults, for young adults. I’m Jace, my pronouns are he, him, his, and I’ll be one of your hosts for this episode.

Heather (she/they) Hi there, I’m Heather, my pronouns are she, they and I’ll be your other co-host. Before we dive into our topic of how legislation impacts our mental health, I would just like to remind all of our listeners that Jace and I are not mental health professionals. We are simply two young adults who are passionate about mental health, and enjoy sharing these important discussions with you.

Jace Troie (he/him) We would also just like to remind everyone today that, like mental illness and suicide, NAMI New Hampshire is nonpartisan. We support policies that help people with mental health conditions and their families, and collaborate with diverse stakeholders on shared goals to improve the lives of individuals affected by mental illness and suicide.

So with that being said, let’s jump right in and meet our guest for today’s episode. Welcome Sam, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Hi, there! Thanks for having me. My name is Sam Hawkins, my pronouns are he, him.

I’m the Public Policy Assistant here at NAMI New Hampshire. In my personal time, I’m a writer, a dad to a very nervous German Shepherd, and overall happy to be here!

Jace Troie (he/him) Wonderful! Thank you so much, Sam. So, what is your personal investment with mental illness? Why does this profession speak to you?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I think it really derives from… I’m a massive believer in community; the power of community that we really sort of, we become strong mentally, and as people, by supporting each other, lifting each other up and keeping each other safe and healthy. I think this is a great avenue to do that.

Heather (she/they) Awesome. Was there anything specific that made you become interested in public policy.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I’ve always been politically active and oriented, but like others, and I think a lot of other young adults, I sort of struggle, knowing how I could engage other than you know the Presidential election, midterms and things like that. But, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always sort of been moved by community organization, so I tried for a long time to figure out how to bridge those ideas, how to engage more myself and get others to engage more, which brought me to Grassroots advocacy. It’s been a bit of a terrifying leap, and after being in it for a little bit, it is intimidating, but it’s more accessible than I thought it would be. The only real prerequisite to get involved is caring about people and being able to read a bill.

Jace Troie (he/him) Nice, and those could definitely be daunting to read, sometimes. I’ve taken a look at some of them every once in a while and they’re long and very detailed. So, props to you for doing that, and being able to do the groundwork for folks that kind of struggle with dissecting those bills, and being able to advocate for those policies.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) It’s a lot of reading and re-reading and re-reading!

Heather (she/they) Also thank you for just making this seem a lot less terrifying. I’m definitely one of the people who gets super overwhelmed as soon as anything really policy/political related comes up on my news feed, or you know, obviously all the  pop up notifications that my silly little phone sends me. So hearing that there isn’t really a prerequisite just makes it seem more approachable. 

Sam Hawkins (he/him) It’s a lot of small bites, a lot of small bites.

Jace Troie (he/him) And also just knowing that there are other young adults out there that are taking on policy right now is really comforting, because a lot of times it seems like a lot of older folks that are the ones in legislation, and are the ones making all the decisions. But knowing that there are young adults kind of being the boots on the ground, and looking out for other young adults is really meaningful.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I absolutely agree.

Heather (she/they) What would you say are some ways young folks or people in general can advocate for their stances on bills. when testifying in person may not be the safest thing for their wellbeing.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, absolutely, there’s so much you can do to make a difference, even if you can’t go in to the State House or the Legislative Office Building to testify. You can go and register your opinion on any bill on the General Court website that goes into the public record. All goes there. You can call your representatives, send them emails, start a petition, write a letter to the editor, if you don’t want to contact your representatives. But really any action is better than no action, right? If you know someone else is going to testify, and you want to drive them, because parking is a challenge for them, or they don’t have a car and you drive them to the State House– that’s a help. If they’re at the State House all day, and you bring them lunch and hand it off to them outside– that’s a help too. Yeah, anything helps.

Jace Troie (he/him) What would you say, like, the best way to contact legislators is? Because you’ve mentioned calling them or emailing them, but I think I’ve heard that a lot of them have assistants, and sometimes it’s hard to actually get through to the legislator themselves. So, what would be the most effective course of action in that case?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Calling is definitely more effective at getting your foot in the door. They get, they get so many emails. And yeah, I mean, I’m sure they want to get back to as many as they can, but they get buried. So calling, if you reach their assistant, leave a message. That’s a much more effective way of getting to them.

Jace Troie (he/him) Good to know, good to know. But it’s nice that we have those options where you can call, or you can email, or you can write a letter, as well, because I know for me personally, sometimes picking up the phone and calling can be a little anxiety inducing. But also once I do it once, then it’s a lot less intimidating. So just gotta practice, keep practicing. 

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I’m the same way. I type in the phone number, and then I have to like, I automatically press the button before I even let myself think about it and then I’m just in the situation and I have to deal with it. 

Jace Troie (he/him) There you go. That’s one way to do it. So, Sam, why does pending legislation have such an emotional impact on the mental health of young adults in our state? What do you think is causing that emotional response?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, yeah, it’s a massive question, massive answer, but I’m gonna try to break it down into pieces and work through it. I mean, the first, most obvious factor, right, is that some of these bills directly affect our quality of life. They affect what we can do in our lives, and that carries a ton of weight. Beyond that immediate impact, though, and especially for young adults, looking at these bills can feel like we’re looking at the landscape of our futures. You know, they determine what we can achieve, where we’re going to live, where we want to maybe build a family, if we want to build a family. And we can look at, you know, where things are going. We can extrapolate where these trends are going that can be really scary and sort of sap our motivation of wanting to be involved in the future. It can be really exhausting, and in general the legislative process can feel pretty distant and confusing. I think Heather was getting at this earlier. You know, you see, these headlines of like, lawmakers pass this bill, and you’re like what does that mean? Is that law, now? What, what is a committee recommendation? If it passes in the House, does that mean it’s immediately state law? You know, all the uncertainty and all that can make the process feel kind of threatening, or at least just, just very scary.

Heather (she/they) Can you clarify a little bit on what the standard steps are for having something actually become a law?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yes, I would love to do the brief process. So, a representative or a senator files a bill. That bill gets referred to a committee, which is just a smaller group of either House Representatives or State Senators.

They’ll have a hearing, a public hearing, where members of the public can come in, speak to the bill. They’ll listen, ask questions, and then the committees come together. They discuss the bill, and then they determine what recommendation they’re going to give to the full Senate or the full House, the two bodies in the State. Then the full House and full Senate come together. They hear the committee’s recommendation, and they all vote on whether they want to pass that bill or not pass the bill.

If they pass the bill, it’ll cross over to the other body. So if it was in the Senate, it goes to the house, and vice versa, the same process will happen. If the second body passes it, it’ll go to the Governor, and then the Governor can either sign it into law or veto it.

Jace Troie (he/him) That’s so interesting, because I feel like so often in my mind when I hear that it was passed by, like, the Senate, I’ll be like “it’s a law now,” but I guess I didn’t realize that it went from one side to the other. So if it started in the Senate, it’ll go to the House after that, and vice versa. I thought it was kind of more like: they write the bill, it goes to the Senate, and then it goes up to the Governor, but I’m glad that I have that clarification now.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) No, I, same. I had the same exact confusion, you know that’s what makes all those headlines seem really urgent, but the process is a lot longer, and there’s a lot of time to intervene.

Jace Troie (he/him) I have to go back and watch my Schoolhouse Rock videos again.

Heather (she/they) I was just thinking about that! I was like, did I miss something in Schoolhouse Rock?

Jace Troie (he/him) Is it different state-to-state?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Probably? I don’t know for sure. 

Jace Troie (he/him) No pressure. This is 603 Stories, we’re focused on New Hampshire.

Heather (she/they) So, if you were going to speak in person for a hearing, and share your testimony, is that something you would need to, like, sign up for in advance, or is there any formal process? Or can you just kind of show up?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, you can just show up. It’s one of those things, again, that’s really sort of, surprisingly and intimidatingly easy. You go onto the website. You look at the committee meeting schedule. You see what room they’re meeting in. You go in when the hearing is happening. In the house, you fill out a little pink card, and you’ll hand it to a representative. In the Senate, you’ll sign up your name on a white sheet of paper by the front of the room, and then after the prime sponsor, so the Senator or the House Representative who filed the bill, introduces it, the chair of the committee will just go through the list calling people up, and you’ll go up and you’ll speak. You’ll get questions. You don’t have to answer any questions if you don’t want to, and then that’ll be that. It’s surprisingly easy.

Jace Troie (he/him) Is there like a time limit for people that testify? I would imagine there would have to be.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, yeah, it’s about three minutes. Three minutes is the standard. If there aren’t very many people signed up to testify for a bill they won’t, they sometimes won’t really hold people to a time limit, but if they have a lot of speakers they’ll be pretty strict on the 3 minutes, so I would make sure you have your comments within that time limit.

Jace Troie (he/him) Nice, good information to have.

Heather (she/they) I think we need to go back to the beginning of the podcast and say, hey, this is 603 Stories where we learn how a bill becomes a law! 

Jace Troie (he/him) Schoolhouse Rock, who?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I can’t sing, so don’t expect that!

Heather (she/they) Well, I, I guess we can still have you on.

So, are there any bills that you’ve seen recently that you’d say have generated an emotional response, either for yourself, or you know just kind of cross the board in the public?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) So many. I’ll give 2 examples. I’ll start with a positive example. One that’s really impacted me, personally, in hearings that I’ve attended is for Senate Bill 263, which is the current bill extending New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program. In those hearings I’ve gotten to listen to such like emotional, touching stories that show how incredibly important that program is, and how many people it’s provided for, and the people that have come to those hearings are incredibly brave, and that just outpouring of support for that program has really shown, like, the gravity of that social support that we can offer. So, got that positive example, before, I mean, obviously some of the most contentious and emotional bills we’ve had this session have been the numerous discriminatory bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Which we’re seeing these trends, you know, both locally and nationally. At the State House, those are really long, hard days. A lot of amazing people, just individuals coming out to testify in opposition to those bills, defending themselves, defending their, their loved ones. It’s really sad that they have to do that, obviously, and that has a huge impact on mental health. I mean, of course it does. You’re getting this message from other members of your state, those elected to represent you, that they don’t accept you, and that’s obviously about as heavy as it can get, and some of the things at those hearings can be really tough. 

The impact of that is pretty profound and something really important for mental health for that issue too, is just the exhaustion involved, because it’s not like these bills come up once, and we defeat them once. They come up once, and then it’s like a hydra. You see one, two more come back. So I think, both for advocates and and the people that the bills are targeting, there’s this question of: when is it going to stop? That absolutely has an impact on mental health.

Heather (she/they) I would absolutely say that that is such a huge part of the, like, paralysis that I get when trying to look at public policy, or trying to approach news about what’s going on in our government. Because, as a queer person, a lot of these things directly impact me, can impact my life, can impact some of the really incredible folks that I work with, and the young people that I love, especially.

Jace Troie (he/him) Which I think also loops back to what you were saying before as to why it impacts young adults specifically. Obviously the LGBTQ community is a broad community and there are people of all ages within that community, but as a young, queer person, I have to decide whether I want to start a family, or if this is somewhere where I want to live, just like you were saying before. Watching how these bills play out, and the opinions that lawmakers and officials in our state have about my existence, even, is draining. And so, not even talking about going and advocating yet, and how that can be extremely draining as well, but just existing in a state of this uncertainty is also really tiring for a lot of people.

So with that being said, do you have any, I guess, recommendations or advice on how we can support those people who are being impacted by some of these laws or heavier/discriminatory bills?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, that support is crucial because as we’ve gotten at, this is a marathon. Not sure quite what the length of that marathon is yet, but it is a marathon.

If people impacted by this are going to testify, if they are advocating, making that process as frictionless for them as possible. Organize with them, help them edit their testimony, rehearse their testimony, reduce as many of those barriers as possible. Go with them as a support if you can. I think especially for allies who are not directly targeted by the bills as well, but do have loved ones who are targeted by, or even just recognize the discrimination, in those bills: go testify. You don’t have to be directly affected to testify on the bill. Stand with the people impacted by them on these issues, instead of leaving them alone to fight it.

One thing specific to in the courtroom. I think sometimes in these hearings, in law making, there can be this abstraction of the individual that can feel really dehumanizing. Advocates, representatives– everyone will bring their data points, their statistics, their political strategies, you know, which are all done to help, of course, but we can end up talking about the individuals impacted by the bills instead of talking to the individuals impacted by the bills, and that’s something we as advocates, trying to support those impacted by these bills, need to be really cognizant of is to center the individual, their story, lift them up and support them rather than just talking about them. You know, avoiding that sort of paternalism.

And then, lastly, I would say, to support them, focus on the successes as well, you know, celebrate good bills passing. There’s a bill right now that has really good traction that would prohibit the LGBTQ+ panic defense in New Hampshire, which is fantastic. 

Beyond the State House, provide positive, supportive, celebratory spaces. Just get away from the negativity. We don’t only need to organize around negativity. We can organize around positivity.

Heather (she/they) Sorry I just, I guess, for the first time, I mean, I guess

maybe not so surprised, but realizing that the panic defense was not prohibited previously, I am overjoyed to hear that we are in the process of making very clearly necessary movements on that.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I think it’s just us and Massachusetts left in New England that haven’t prohibited it yet. I think. But we would be joining like 16 other territories that have at this point. So that’d be great.

Jace Troie (he/him) And, Sam, if we could just backtrack for the listeners real quick, would you mind giving a little bit of detail on what the gay panic defense law is.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yes, so the gay panic defense would basically, be if someone murdered an LGBTQ person, as part of their defense, it can’t be their sole defense, but as part of their defense, they could plea that they were provoked to violence by the the other person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and that just the existence of that factor of their person provoked them to violence, which isn’t law it’s, it’s common law, but we need to prohibit it.

Heather (she/they) Yeah. And I would also add, correct me if I’m wrong, that it frequently exists around the conversation of someone feeling like they were deceived?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yes, yes, absolutely. Some examples would be like you go out with someone, without having it disclosed to you upfront, and then it comes out later, and you’ve quote, unquote, feel deceived, and then feel pushed to violence.

Jace Troie (he/him) I’ve followed this, I follow this law very closely, and monitored it very closely, especially as a trans man in the dating world, it’s a scary reality, you know? And again, that goes back to how heavy it can be living in a state and like having these laws, that are kind of, like, hovering over you and just make you feel a little bit less safe, but knowing that there are people out, there like you, Sam, who are working on these bills and working on creating a safer community for all of us, is really heartwarming, and I just wanted to thank you again. I know we probably thank you like five times, but I’m going to do it again!

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I’m even more grateful to be able to be part of the process. So just a small, small part of the process. 

Jace Troie (he/him) Every drop in the bucket counts right? 

Heather (she/they) Now, obviously celebrating the wins is a huge part of finding balance, other than celebrating the wins, would you have any advice for folks trying to create balance with staying informed and also needing to take space for self-care and their own well-being?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, this is super important, super important for me too, looking at it all every day. I would say, while I deeply think everyone needs to stay informed, there’s a difference between staying informed and just doom scrolling, which I end up doing a lot.

What’s helped me is making checking the news a conscious and controlled activity. So I’ll sit down, I’ll say, okay, I’m going to look at the news. I’m going to look at it for twenty minutes, half an hour, and then I’m done looking at the news for this morning, today, whatever it ends up being, and then you make that boundary with yourself, and you maintain that boundary. Whether that takes blocking keywords on social media, setting time limits on apps, or even making the spaces where you catch up on your news entirely separate from social media. Maybe get your news from centralized newsletters that bring all of that together. You get it from one place, just keeping that as a separate space from your recreational activities.

Heather (she/they) Okay, so part two to my question, and this is also a two part question. Are there any ways that you could recommend for setting boundaries? Are there certain ways on your phone or on social media to block certain content like that, or filter it? And, second part of my question, are there any sources you would recommend folks to go to, to keep in touch in a more healthy way?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) I know with Twitter, you can block keywords so that they won’t come up on your feed. That’s very helpful. I think most social media platforms have that option. Apple allows you to set time limits for any app. So if you have your, I don’t know, whatever new source you like, whatever app that is, set a time limit, stick to it, don’t click the little button that lets you delay the time limiter.

As for resources, you can go to the NAMI New Hampshire e-News letter!

Yeah, no, I mean, I don’t know, where to go all sort of comes down to taste, I think, but, I’m sure if you find an organization you like that follows the issues that are important to you, chances are they have a newsletter that you can sign up for.

Heather (she/they) Thank you. Sorry, I didn’t mean to put this into a “explain how Twitter works to me.” But thank you, I appreciate it.

Jace Troie (he/him) But it’s definitely helpful to know, because I didn’t know that you could filter out certain things, which I think would be really helpful at times, because, although I want to stay informed, I definitely do struggle with that balance of wanting to stay informed and doom scrolling at the same time, and just kind of ruminating on all of these things. But it is important that we stay informed because it’s happening right here, in our own backyard kind of thing, and the only way to advocate and be a voice for change is to make sure that you know what’s going on, so that you’re able to kind of stand up and do those things. So I think it’s important that we have these conversations, especially for folks like me that are not always the best with technology which, as a young adult, I hear is not quite common.

Heather (she/they) Absolutely, and sometimes, slash very frequently, you just want to scroll and look at pictures of cats and funny Reddit stories without being bombarded with super controversial things that can directly impact your life.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, you can use it for anything. One of my friends blocked off the keywords, having to do with Succession, so they wouldn’t get any spoilers for the new season while they catch up, so there you go/ 

Jace Troie (he/him) There you go, there you go. Maybe if you are going to do this for a little while, just hang out with the German Shepherd that you mentioned while you do it, so that you got a little bit of positive energy going on while you also have this overwhelming energy!

Sam Hawkins (he/him) He helps a lot.

Jace Troie (he/him) So, Sam, why do you think young adults should be active participants in their legislation, not just scrolling and reading about these things, but actually getting down to the State House, or making those calls, or sending letters, writing those letters to the editor, that kind of thing.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) That’s where so much of our energy as a community is, you know, that’s where so much of our real progress is going to come from. Being involved is where that real progress is going to come from. And in these hearings you know more than statistics or anything that we, you know, advocacy groups can bring, what really impacts legislators is the personal stories from their constituents, from people from their districts. That’s what really gets to them. Hearing from their people. 

And young adults make up a massive portion of the population. But if we don’t get involved, then it becomes more likely that the policies that do get enacted, won’t represent our needs, our wants, and as a consequence won’t really be representative of a massive portion of the state. I understand why a lot of people don’t get involved. I think young adults really struggle with not feeling taken seriously in politics and I do think there is some good reason for that. I think there’s a tendency to dismiss us in politics; but if we make sure that the seats we do have at the table are filled, and they’re consistently filled, and we stay passionate and stay informed and stay vocal, I think eventually that’ll change.

Jace Troie (he/him) Yeah. I love what you said about statistics versus real people and real stories. It’s so easy to talk about statistics and take out that humanity behind them, but by putting those people in front of our legislators and making it a real story, and being able to put that face to the name and to the statistics, it really just drives the point home as to like, yeah, we are real people, and we deserve good things, you know.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, telling your representative: I voted for you. I voted you into this role, and this bill is impacting me, and you’re there to represent me as an individual, and really framing your appeal that way.

Jace Troie (he/him) That’s powerful. Not that I never thought about that, because obviously our representatives represent us, but sitting down with someone saying, I voted for you, and like, you are my voice here, please represent it well. Wow! That just really hit me.

So, Sam, I know we mentioned SB 263 at the beginning as one of the recent wins or positive things that you’re going through right now with your work. But I was wondering if you would be able to share a couple of other recent wins that have made you feel proud of the work you do, and that doesn’t necessarily mean bills that have completely passed, but we talked about being a drop in the bucket, and what are some of those moments that really made you feel like the work you’re doing is profound, not just for yourself, but maybe for the community as a whole.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, absolutely. I, I’m even struggling myself a little bit with the question in full honestly, just because it is so easy to focus on the hard days. And those drops sometimes seem bigger. But like I said before, the gay panic defense bill, the bill prohibiting that, moving forward or so far making great progress, is very exciting. And every anti-LGBTQ+ bill that we’ve heard so far, except for one, is no longer moving forward this session. Those are massive wins, those feel great, you know, getting together, the visibilities beforehand, seeing individuals come out to those hearings and listening to them speak and their stories. Looking at them being proud to come together in spite of the challenge of why they are there. That’s really powerful.

Heather (she/they) Are there any specific moments in the near or distant past that really solidified for you, why, you’re doing what you’re doing?

Jace Troie (he/him) I was gonna say, what you said before, where it’s easier to focus on the hard days than it is to focus on the easy days, is so real, and I think that’s so relatable to mental health in general, it can feel so hard to have that feeling of making progress when you’re just focusing on the things that are going wrong. But when you look at, like, years in the past, and see where you are now versus where you were years ago. It’s so much easier to see all of the progress you made. But that day to day work, like you said, can be so difficult to kind of appreciate the progress that you’re making, because it is baby steps most of the time, but every single one of those steps goes towards building a better future, and it’s hard to appreciate it in the moment, but looking back, I am always so grateful for every single step that we have made.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Yeah, I completely agree, and I think something that’s big for me, that keeps me going in the work, is doing it because I can do it, and therefore I have to do it, you know what I mean? Sitting in those rooms and listening to this single parent who took a day off of work and brought their kids, and sat in the hearing room for three hours to get their chance to speak, to get their three minutes to speak, realizing if they can sacrifice so much to be there for three minutes and speak, absolutely I can do it as a job and sit there and do that work.

Jace Troie (he/him) Makes you wanna cry. Yeah, and you’re so right. And the people that do sacrifice so much to be there and stand up and advocate are true superheroes, true rock stars, and if we can do anything to support them, then that is a job well done.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) 100%.

Heather (she/they) Thank you so much. Now I know we’re nearing the end of our conversation, so before we close things out, if there was one thing you would want our listeners to walk away with today, what would you say that is?

Sam Hawkins (he/him) The message that you don’t have to do any of this alone, and not only that you don’t have to, you shouldn’t, do any of this alone.

Reconcile with yourself, know your wants, your needs, your concerns for your future, your future in whatever state you’re in, and then go to your neighbors. Go to your other community members, find out what their needs, wants, and concerns are. See where you overlap, find organizations that are doing the work and then organize, come together, fight for the change and carry that burden together communally, not as an individual.

Jace Troie (he/him) Thank you so much for sharing that.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Thank you guys, the work you guys do, also, is incredible, reaching out to so many people, that makes a big change, too.

Jace Troie (he/him) We’re all working on raising those young adult voices in our own ways. So, hopefully, we can get some of our listeners on your end, and some of your folks can come speak to us!

So a couple of takeaways, I guess, before we close out for tonight. Heather, do you want to start?

Heather (she/they) I mean, I just want to start with thank you. I am genuinely moved by what you have to share. I think, especially lately, where it does feel like. We’re moving backwards a bit. Hearing not only some positives and kind of being grounded in reality a bit more about the process of how a bill becomes a law, but hearing you highlight not only the importance of community, and why we should be coming together, but the people that you do see in real life with your own eyes that are doing that work just gives me a lot of good feelings and I’d say, like biggest takeaways, right now, are more just emotional ones than a specific statement, but just kind of taking a moment to feel some gratitude for the incredible folks, especially young people who aren’t well represented in our government. It is becoming more and more clear how important that is.

Jace Troie (he/him) I think one of my biggest takeaways from the conversation is that you don’t necessarily need to be the person on the stand making a passionate speech in order to effect change in these laws. It could be as simple as driving someone to the State House, like you said Sam, or bringing them lunch, or picking them up after they’re done, or being there to lean on after they have put themselves out there. And that’s really powerful, because I know that it can be nerve wracking for a lot of people to do, something so bold as to stand up in front of lawmakers. But there are ways to kind of build up to it and get one foot in the door before you actually go up and start testifying right away. So there’s small things you can do to build up to that large scale change. But the other thing that really hit me from this conversation was being a face for those statistics that those lawmakers are talking about, because, like we said, it can be so easy to just talk about the statistics, but until you meet someone or have that face to face interaction, it doesn’t always feel real, and as someone who can work with statistics all day long in my own job, it’s really important that we are meeting these people and having these conversations, and really connecting with other community members, because we are the ones that make up the community, and we are the ones that make up these statistics that laws are being passed about, and unless we get to know one another and support one another, we may not make the right choices when passing these laws, and we want to be sure that we’re making the right choices. So really building that community and understanding is really, really important. So, thank you for all the work that you do again.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Thank you both for having me. Everything you both said, hit the nail on the head. It’s why we do what we do.

Jace Troie (he/him) Indeed. So, one last thank you, Sam, for joining us today. Your insight was very eye opening and empowering, and we appreciate everything that you shared today with us, and we wish you good luck with your future legislative efforts as we go forward.

Sam Hawkins (he/him) Thank you.

Heather (she/they) As always, thank you to our listeners. Your engagement with this podcast gives us the ability to continue sharing stories like these from our community. And if you like today’s episode. Consider sharing it on social media.

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