It’s summertime in the Sunshine State, and temperatures are scorching in the beachside town of Cocoa. But that didn’t stop 250 Obama supporters from showing up at a grand opening party for the campaign’s newest field office last weekend. Field organizer Emma Laurent hosted the shindig:
“There was a constant flow of people and everyone was just sweating buckets because it was so hot,” Emma said. “It was super disgusting, but super great! This was our chance to really let this area know the campaign is here and ready to go, because a lot of people have been waiting to get going. Even some of the little old ladies who can’t do everything, we’ve had them lined up for weeks wanting to come and shred paper just to help out.”
The office is one big room (with a kitchen for working late), and it was crammed with enthusiasm on Saturday.
“We had people in here for a full day before the event, decorating the place head to toe with placards, and stars hanging from the ceiling. Right after the Fourth of July, we hit up all the dollar stores and just grabbed everything we possibly could. Our neighborhood team leader cut out a huge rising sun, painted it, and stuck it on the wall for everyone to sign. Oh, and we also had a cutout of the President, so all the ladies formed a little line to take their picture with him.”
After the popular mayor of Cocoa got the crowd fired up and a neighborhood team leader gave her friends a little inspiration, it was Emma’s turn to take the mic.
“I tried to instill in them that my role isn’t to tell them what to do, but to guide them. This is their community, their election, their movement. This campaign is built on an inverted pyramid model, so the volunteers are at the top and the director is at the bottom. Some people at the opening saw our regional field director doing parking duty outside, and they thought that was weird. He was like, ‘No no, I’m the least important person here!’”
Slogging through the dog days of summer while trying to register voters, recruit volunteers, and build neighborhood teams is no easy task. But in a state as important to this election as Florida, Emma knows it will all pay off.
“There are days when I wake up, and it’s been so hard, I’ve just scrambled like crazy to register five voters in an entire day or whatever. But then I go to something like this office opening, or simple house parties, and I see all these people’s joy and how ready they are and their passion—it reminds me why I only sleep four hours a night and why I’m so exhausted. It reminds me that I’m doing it for them, and I’m so glad I’m here, even on the worst of days.”
The volunteers (old and new) were glad to be there Saturday, too. Signup sheets on the wall were filled with names for what Emma calls “a crazy number” of volunteer shifts over the coming weeks. From here, Cocoa volunteers will organize themselves into teams, assign roles, and hit the streets for President Obama.
“We had a few people who had never actually been involved in any capacity before. They had been hesitant about volunteering and committing their time, but some of them are now actually more inclined to do something because they see that it’s really just their friends in the community coming together and trying to re-elect the President. While it’s extremely hard work, it’s something they do for a reason, for the kids they know, or for the grandchildren they know. This is a very tight community, and this is something folks are investing in for the first time because they realize what it really means, and what’s at stake this time around.”
Get together with your own neighbors wherever you live—sign up to be a volunteer for Obama today.