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Organizing fellows: It’s about the people

Our organizing fellows are hard at work building neighborhood and campus teams across the country. As the spring organizing fellowship continues, we’ll hear from a few of the organizers about their experiences.

Whenever I speak to someone else with experience in field politics or grassroots organizing, it’s about the same idea: Everything you do becomes about the people.

In Quincy, Florida, I met Clarence, an African-American man who remembers when the first black officials took office in his county—Florida’s only African-American majority county. This man walks down the street and shakes hands with the men and women he taught as children. Today, he takes it upon himself to make sure these men and women are registered to vote—so that their representatives may always represent the needs and values of their community.

A little ways east, in Tallahassee, Florida, I met Sonia, a woman who set aside her reservations about campaigning because of the connection she felt after a single conversation with an organizing fellow. She is now a neighborhood team leader. She speaks about important policies with other volunteers; she registers her neighbors to vote; and every Monday evening, she teaches others to phonebank so that more people can take that first step she took months ago.

I remember sitting at a fellow training, listening to the state field director. The message was clear: people—interns, staff, and volunteers—walk through the door the first time for the President. We come to dedicate our efforts to the man who fought for universal health care and repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We make our first calls because age and gender discrimination in the workplace are no longer accepted and Pell Grants have doubled. But we stay because of the relationships we make.

Over these past months I have made a journey from volunteer, to fellow, and now field organizer. This opportunity is a commitment I make for the President, for myself, and for people like Clarence and Sonia.

After all, nothing gets done without the support, commitment, and overwhelming excitement of these volunteers.

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