The new office in Salem, New Hampshire has an especially local feel to it.
But it’s not just the ward maps on the wall and the “Salem for Obama” mural—it helps that the field organizer for the Southern Tier, Collin Lever, grew up here and attended the middle school right next door. For him, it doesn’t get any better than this.
“Growing up here, I kind of missed how cool it is to be in New Hampshire and how excited everyone is,” Collin says. “We could decide the election, and it hadn’t really hit home yet how important that is. When I came to that realization, it totally re-energized me and it helped me communicate that sense of urgency to our volunteers. And it makes it even more special that it's my hometown, so I take a certain amount of pride in that.”
Nearly 100 supporters beat the heat and joined Collin last Sunday, cramming into the office together (“I could tell it was going to be tight, so I cranked up the A/C to make sure it stayed cool enough,” Collin says). All the furniture was removed to make space for people, and some of them were pleasantly surprised to see each other there.
“A lot of folks who came were actually friends who just don't really talk about politics, and they were like, ‘I didn't know you were gonna be here!’ People were surprised, because we’re in a fairly Republican part of the state, that we had 100 warm bodies in a room and they all came to support the President. They could take a step back and say, ‘Wow, they're all here for the same reason I am. They all have the same values I do.’ And that's good to see. It was also really nice to see a ton of new faces—a bunch of people who I’ve spoken with in the past, but who haven’t been able to get out and volunteer until now.”
Like most field offices, the room was pretty bare at first. But it was quickly transformed by volunteers who were eager to get started. Collin says:
“There just wasn’t a whole lot here. But one of the coolest things I’ve seen is all the furniture come into the office, seeing stuff fill up this space, and all the decorations—a lot of people made ‘I’m in’ signs and rising suns for the walls, just some artsy-craftsy stuff. The Obama décor just reminds people why they’re here, and they love looking at it. We also pinned up some maps of our towns around here, and people love figuring out where they live in relation to other volunteers. We’re gonna start adding little tags with names on them, so you can say, ‘Hey, you live right down the street from me!’”
Collin and the Southern Tier neighborhood teams have been at it since December, but they never had a home base until now.
“I’ve been bouncing around from coffee shops to phone banks in supporter homes, and just fighting through it. Every house party or event, it took a lot of work and a couple days to find a place to host it. But now, we can plan out the next three months in advance and schedule people for multiple shifts at one time. They can say, ‘I’ll be there every Tuesday for the phone bank.’ It saves us time, and everyone really gets a sense of ownership because we’ve got a piece of everyone in this office. It’s a little bit like coming home rather than stepping into someone else’s home.”
Collin took advantage of the grand opening to schedule “a whole bunch” of volunteer shifts for canvassing, data entry, and phone banks. He says New Hampshire volunteers are now more dedicated than ever to winning their state for President Obama.
“People are really excited because having an office on their turf shows a certain level of commitment. If we’re spending money by putting an office in your town, you can’t say we’re not serious about winning there. Before it was like, things are so far away, you guys have the whole summer ahead of you ... but now we’re on the back side of summer and it feels like this campaign is finally upon us.”
Want to check out the local feel of an office in your town? Now’s a great time to get involved.