Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA) – A Good Example of Grassroots in Action

By: Bennett Napier, CAE

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The lead off organization being featured is actually the company’s longest term client, the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA). I started as their Executive Director twenty six years ago, and they transitioned with me as our first client association, when our AMC formally opened.

This association is unique to Partners, in several senses.

One it remains the largest client association in terms of individual members.

There are nearly 14,000 members that belong to this statewide association. Additionally, the other most unique aspect is the age of the members. Members consist solely of residents that reside in Florida’s continuing care retirement communities, and the majority of members are in their mid-70s’s, with a few members being over 100 years of age.

The association established in 1989 was created to serve as an advocate on state public policy issues to enhance resident rights and welfare for those living in Florida’s continuing care retirement communities. Today, it remains the largest statewide association of its kind in the United States, and through its early efforts, it helped launch a national association with a similar mission to represent residents at the federal level.

Given its mission on advocacy, FLiCRA focuses heavily on grassroots programs. We have covered tips on grassroots best practices (read more here) for any organization.

Here are some specific practices that FLiCRA has incorporated into its grassroots program to achieve public policy objectives:

  • County Delegation Meetings – most counties in Florida hold annual legislative delegation meetings. Nearly fifteen counties (where a lot of CCRC’s are concentrated) have FLiCRA members testify each year at the these delegation meetings to deliver messaging on what is important to CCRC residents for the upcoming state legislative session. These allow members to have a captive audience with both state Representatives and Senators that represent that specific county.
  • Candidate Forums – Over twenty local FLiCRA chapters traditionally host “Candidate Forums” during election years. Some do forums for both the primaries as well as the general election cycle. These events draw big crowds and in most cases, not only bring candidates for state legislative offices, but also in many cases, county or city commission races. Resident members run the events from top to bottom, developing the candidate parameters for speaking and responding to questions and managing the “time clock”.
  • Op Ed Newspaper Pieces – FLiCRA members routinely send in letters to the editor or write Op-ed pieces on specific policy issues.
  • E-Mail Call to Action Network – The association has legislative captains within each local chapter. These captains work closely with members at the local level to get engaged on policy issues as appropriate to ensure member voices are heard. Over 3,000 residents are part of the E-Mail alert program and respond quickly to issues that require capitol attention.

FLiCRA as a consumer organization is somewhat in a David vs. Goliath scenario, as it works in a public policy arena competing for air time with a number of highly funded provider organizations. In spite of the financial resource differences of some the other players, FLiCRA holds its own due to its comprehensive grassroots program.

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