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Stories from the Field: Menlo Park


I wore a dark suit. I had a name tag. I held a walkie-talkie. I was official.

I was one of a handful of volunteers from the Bay Area who had a chance to help out at an event with President Obama at a private home in Menlo Park. It felt different than I had expected. I have heard the President speak many times before, and been moved, but this felt more profound than ever.

My job for the evening was to check off the name of each guest before he or she boarded a shuttle from the parking lot. Easy: all I had to do was look up each person alphabetically on the RSVP list. Just in case any problems arose, I was handed a bulky, black walkie-talkie with which to contact the staffers at the main house. It crackled occasionally as I spoke with guests, which gave me the appropriate aura of authority.

But no problems arose. Everything went smoothly (although I will say, if only for the record, that re-boarding our 350+ guests at the end of the night, on a narrow, dark, tree-lined lane, did demand our full attention).

So, it wasn’t that the work was unduly demanding. Still, along with my fellow shuttle-bus-RSVP-list-name-checker-offers, I knew by the time the President had arrived that I had provided a useful function.

Perhaps that’s why when President Obama emerged from behind the doors of the main residence, when he beamed his great smile and strolled up into the light, I felt a powerful sense of connection with him, even more than I have ever felt before.

He spoke of the need for us all to help him, and I listened with the knowledge that I was doing what he was asking already. The guests had boarded the buses without a hitch. Here they stood all around me. I held fast to the walkie-talkie in my hand. I was part of the team.

A call came in: “All volunteers are needed at the front gate, over.” I was on my way.

Tom is part of the team to re-elect the President. Join a team today.

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