“I met Maritana while escorting her and her disabled son to the polls on primary day in Maryland. Within a few minutes, I learned that she was 84 years old, lives in Essex, and lost her husband only a year after moving to the United States from Poland.
“Having recently broken her hip, she moved slowly into the passenger seat. As soon as she was settled, she pulled out a very old red photo album from her purse to tell me her story.
“After losing her husband suddenly, being alone in a new country with a young child, she decided to volunteer in her community and make a contribution to the country that took her in. Early on, she realized that civic engagement and community organizing were the most fulfilling things she could do. Being a part of something bigger than herself, and lending a helping hand to those who needed it the most is what got her through those trying first years.
“At the polling site, I waited just outside the room while she and her son, Charles, voted. I watched from a distance as she pulled the album out again to share with the election official.
“I knew right then what we shared that day was what so many others in this campaign share: a story. We all have our own story about why we take part in the democratic process and are inclined to make a difference.”