“Hello?” said a hesitant voice through the receiver.
“Hello!” I responded brightly, repeating the greeting I had uttered so often over the past six weeks, “My name is Anshu, I’m a volunteer leader for Organizing for America, President Barack Obama’s grassroots team.”
The line went dead. I sighed. Sometimes it was hard to follow the President’s advice: brush it off and move on. I moved on to the next name on the list, dialing the number and praying.
“Hello?” said a much friendlier woman’s voice and I breathed a sigh of relief. I repeated my well-rehearsed greeting and she responded enthusiastically.
“I just wanted to know if you are still supporting the President and if you were willing to volunteer?” I asked, silently hoping.
“Well of course!” she replied, “I’ve been waiting for someone to call!”
These were the moments I cherished. We scheduled a time to meet in person, much as I had with dozens of other volunteers in coffee shops around the Bay Area, and talked about the President’s agenda, the upcoming election, and how she could get involved with the campaign.
President Barack Obama was the man who sparked my interest in public service and shaped my high school experience, leading me to get involved in student government and my community. This past summer I worked as a Summer Organizer for his campaign. I made countless calls to supporters, registered new voters in two states, canvassed in parks, cities, and outside grocery stores, marched in the San Francisco Pride parade, and shared stories with volunteers around the Bay Area and beyond. My experience taught me not only how to organize, but why. Community organizing is ultimately the way change is accomplished, through the concerted efforts of average citizens.
Through my work for the campaign, I came into contact with people from all walks of life: working, unemployed, people who donated money, and people who donated time because they didn’t have money to give. Talking to these people —people who had lost their jobs, their homes, their way of life— was deeply humbling. Their unyielding commitment in the face of such hardship inspired me to demand more of myself.
Barack Obama’s vision, the vision that had brought all of us together, is still far from complete. Actions such as the Affordable Care Act and Race to the Top are only the beginning of the journey to reclaim the American Dream for hard working, average Americans, but it is path I will continue to tread, one step at a time.
Inspired to get involved with the campaign? Sign up for a phonebank in your neighborhood!