President Obama had a special lunch date yesterday—six of our finest summer organizers were in town to share their stories from the past two months and get his advice on community organizing. Victoria Kirby, a summer organizer from Washington D.C., had the cheeseburger.
When I applied to be a summer organizer, I just wanted to bring as many people as I could into the campaign. I had no idea that I’d end up having lunch with President Obama. It was such an honor to meet him yesterday.
There were six of us there, and though we’d all been doing the same program this summer, we all had really different experiences. Some of us, like me, were in cities and urban areas; others were in really rural districts. And we’ve been working with such a diverse group of communities, from low-income neighborhoods to specializing in faith outreach work.
The President wanted to know all about our experiences. I’ve been working 50 hours a week as a summer organizer on top of doing a part-time job to support myself and my partner, so when President Obama asked me what I’d learned, I said “Time management!” He also wanted to know what we were hearing from the people we’re speaking to—how folks in our communities are doing and what we can do to help.
These past two months have shown me the difference I can make being an organizer in my neighborhood. But for the first time, sitting with the “Organizer in Chief” and these amazing summer organizers from across the country, I realized the importance of the bigger picture. It’s not enough for me to organize in my community. We need to be organizing in every community if we want to achieve change.
To be able to talk to President Obama, to ask his advice and hear his stories of being a community organizer, I now know, more than ever, that I want to run for office someday—to represent my friends and neighbors, and help make their lives better.
But for now, I’d settle for another one of those cheeseburgers.
If you want to join folks like Victoria in making a difference where you are, apply to be a fall fellow. And be sure to ask your hardworking, talented friends to apply too.