Two years ago this month Organizing for America—Illinois held their first Summer Organizer training. Huddled in a small office space in Rogers Park, 14 new summer organizers, learned the in's and out's of one-on-one meetings, talking to people in their neighborhood, and how to carry themselves as representatives of the President.
Fast forward two years to today when Illinois kicked off this years Summer Organizer training weekend, which was held at the I.B.E.W. Union hall in Chicago. This event looked a little different though—131 fresh faced and energetic Summer Organizers came together, all eager to get started.
The energy in the training room was nothing short of inspiring. People from all over Illinois, different races, religions, and background came together for a common purpose- to re-elect President Obama. This group showed their determination and passion throughout the training. Whenever they were asked to do some reflection and writing in their notebooks, the room became quiet with concentration.
Everyone was quick to share, whether it be getting up in front of the whole group to tell their personal story or to answer a question that was asked by the trainers. In just one day you could already see the bonds forming between the SOs. People were laughing and getting to know one another throughout the entire day.
For many this was a brand new experience. Kyla, a mother of two from Sutton, Illinois was in attendance, and was surprised that so many of her fellow organizers were first timers just like herself:
"I was a little nervous driving in this morning thinking that I would be one of the only people in the room with no real political experience. I was afraid I was going to stick out like a sore thumb. Those worries eased as though as I was waiting to sign in and struck up a conversation with a women and her nephew standing next to me in line who were in the same boat as me."
That is one of the things that makes this program so special. It brings people together from all different backgrounds, but shared values and beliefs, and empowers them to stop just talking about the need for change, and start bringing it about.
Welcome, Summer Organizer Class of 2011!