In 2008, Akvile Z., a Neighborhood Team Leader in Chicago’s western suburbs, was only 14 years old. As she watched Barack Obama be elected President, she was inspired and could not wait to play her part in reelecting him in 2012.
Following the 2010 midterm elections, she began to lose faith in our political system after witnessing the gridlock and constant bickering from our elected officials in Congress.
This past June, Akvile received a phone call asking her to attend an open house for President Obama’s re-election campaign. After some hesitation, Akvile agreed to attend the event. When she got there, she found a diverse group of supporters.
“I was just really surprised that supporters really came from all backgrounds: young, old, professional, blue collar, and all nationalities.”
Akvile walked out of the open house with a renewed sense of pride in the American government. She recognized that politics didn’t always have to divide people. Her enthusiasm was back and she found herself a position as an intern for the community organizer in her neighborhood.
Now 17, Akvile splits her time with OFA between studying for upcoming tests, filling out college applications, and leading her high school’s Model United Nations team. Despite this hectic schedule, she has become one of OFA-Illinois’ top volunteers.
“My favorite thing about being an organizer is seeing how many people are willing to actually get up and become politically active. So many people today will sit and yell at the TV or complain amongst friends about politics, but it’s inspiring to see people really get involved and dedicate their time to a cause they believe in.”
In the next 13 months, Akvile not only plans on building a strong grassroots foundation in her neighborhood, but also reaching out to people her age.
“2012 will be the first election my friends and I will be able to vote in, but many will abstain from the political process if nobody reaches out to them.”
Akvile and other Neighborhood Team Leaders will be working hard these next few months continuing to build up grassroots organizing all over Illinois, and they need your help! Find a local event or sign up to volunteer.