If you want to make a difference, you have to take a stand.

Nearly 100 Catholic Charities colleagues and clients did just that on Friday, Feb. 1 when they advocated for Catholic Charities programs and important issues in Annapolis.

The group traveled to the state capital to help lawmakers understand many of the ways Catholic Charities services their constituents and strengthens their communities.

“We can make policy change in this room today,” Assistant Director of Advocacy Lisa Klingenmaier told the colleagues before legislators arrived. “We’ve seen that time and time again.”

Thirty-two legislators and representatives from several other legislative offices came to meet and talk with the Catholic Charities group in intimate table conversations.

Clients, like Walter Jenkins, told their personal stories.

“Christopher Place has changed my life already,” said Jenkins, who began the program 100 days ago and plans to stay enrolled for the full 18 months offered. He came to advocate in favor of a $15 minimum wage and a plan to create paid family leave – both so he can better support his family.

In addition to Catholic Charities’ main issues this legislative session, colleagues and clients talked with legislators about their own programs.

Nicole Warren, a violence interrupter with Safe Streets of Sandtown-Winchester, shared hers with everyone in the room, drawing a painful personal correlation between Baltimore City’s violent crime rate, her work, and her life. She lost her son, 17-year-old Anthony Grant.

“The reason I feel that Safe Streets should be funded is that, Dec. 2, my son was gunned down,” she said. “And I really feel in my heart that if the area he was in had a Safe Streets program, he would be alive today. If there was a Safe Streets program in every community, there would never be 300 homicides again.”

Catholic Charities advocates in collaboration with a number of coalition groups, like the Maryland Alliance For the Poor and the Maryland Senior Citizen Action Network.