Last year, while attending a rally, I was approached by a volunteer from Planned Parenthood, who asked if I supported the services they provided and if I would be interested in volunteering. I said “yes” to both.

I was delighted, days later, to be invited to an Hour of Power open house event. When I walked in the door, I was greeted with a warm smile and a nametag and I knew I was in the right place. I listened to passionate people speak about the work Planned Parenthood would be doing in the coming year and how I could get involved with positively impacting the community. I accepted the offer to volunteer.

I grew up with Planned Parenthood. I knew the health centers as a place to get birth control, but that was about it. Today, I also know Planned Parenthood as a beacon of hope and an advocate of reproductive justice.

Previously I was a sporadic voter, not particularly engaged politically. The Planned Parenthood organizers provided tangible ways I could contribute. Each week, there was a plan and specific tasks I could feel proud to accomplish.

I am proud to say I have called and emailed my senators and legislators often this year to share my concern over various bills and pending votes. I am certain that without the encouragement and vital information about upcoming bills and votes, I would not have acted.

I am grateful to Planned Parenthood for fostering a welcoming community, where I belong and can make a meaningful contribution. I am proud to stand with Planned Parenthood.

Gretchen Phoenix

Portland