Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preparing for this Saturday's Encouragement Activity at Orlando Health

Dear Reader,

Tonight I am printing petitions, slips of paper to promote the link to the online petition, the Human Rights Campaign's Health Care Equality Index, legal documents to have on hand showing anyone who asks that I am well within my first amendment rights, other support materials - all the while ordering my signage and visual display materials in support of Orlando Health becoming more culturally competent. I do this in preparation for a Saturday in my hometown. A Saturday that will matter more to me than many Saturdays have in the past. This Sunday I can say to myself, "I did something yesterday. I don't quite know what, but something."

Like all activities to inspire people to dream for something better, I won't know the outcome of Saturday's activity until it is complete. And then, I still might not know how it fits into this big puzzle. But what it does do is add another piece to the puzzle so eventually the picture will become crystal clear to Orlando Health and all of Central Florida how much needed are the changes promoted in the petition to encourage Orlando Health to become more culturally competent.

I will say this - I have modified (for the better I feel) what I will be doing outside Miracle Miles (an event I managed for 2 1/2 years by the way - helping it grow by 800 runners just last year - I say this not so show how effective I can be but to show how much I love this organization and want them to do the right thing in the areas outlined in the petition - I was dedicated to the Orlando Health mission then - and I stay dedicated to it to this day. Wow, that was a long parenthetical statement) and the Community Block Party this Saturday.

I feel one of three things will take place while I'm out there in front of the thousands of people who will be out at these combined events.

1. No one will care. I will be looked at as some wacko disgruntled ex employee (which I am not as my above parenthetical statement attests).

2. People will not be happy with me and make that known somehow.

3. People will be intrigued by what I am doing, ask questions, realize the present reality of Orlando Health's current policies, see all the other people who have supported this effort so far and jump on board and sign the petition on the spot.

In reality, I would imagine what I will experience will be a combination of the three. But, like the petition itself, what I will be doing on Saturday is an experiment. When one engages in trying to impact change, it can never be known exactly what the right mix is for the desired outcome. Thus, Sunday I will know I did something that mattered, but I may not know how it builds the history of this movement- yet.

But no matter what happens on Saturday - it's all good. It's another piece because...

I assure you, after over a year working towards the vision of a more inclusive Orlando Health - know that Saturday is just as I propose - one more step. I have no intention of giving up after this if this doesn't work. I have no clue how much will need to be done for the vision of the future to become the present reality. I only know that I will persist.

And, I say 'I' because in this moment I am only talking about my experiences in this movement. I am not the defining factor that will cause Orlando Health to finally make the changes it needs to make to be more culturally competent. I am just a person who sees a better way and has worked with a group of people who still work at the organization and are not able to be as bold as I to encourage change.

You though - you are also a person. You may decide you will get behind the existing efforts. You may (or may have already) sign the petition. You may end up out at the events this Saturday with your friends and family and all wear stickers to support the movement that is encouraging Orlando Health to be more culturally competent. You may do something completely different to help reach Orlando Health so they start publicly making change for the better in the area of diversity/multiculturalism.

And as should always be the case, no matter what Orlando Health promotes they are doing in this area now or in the future, I assure you I will - and you should as well - be keeping my eye keenly trained on their activities. The organization should have changed years ago when other business leaders in Central Florida started the journey to become more culturally competent. It is very important that when Orlando Health start this vital work they do so for the right reasons and in the right way. This is not a smoke and mirrors marketing strategy like making sure all advertising has multiple ethnic faces represented. This is about a deeper understanding about what it means to be culturally competent. About how to better recruit and retain a diverse team member base. About how to reduce disparities between ethnic group's health outcomes. About providing equal benefits to all team members.

And it's about a never ending commitment to diversity/multiculturalism to better achieve the mission of Orlando Health which is, "To improve the health and quality of life of the individuals and communities we serve." Which individuals and which communities does Orlando Health serve best at present? This is the question a culturally competent organization should always be asking itself, especially when lives are on the line in its work every hour of every day.

Thanks for reading.

Alan L. Bounville

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