My name is Noralee Bauthues Stewart, and I’m a volunteer community organizer for Obama 2012 in Sacramento, California.
Before I got involved in politics, I did communications work for health care organizations like hospitals. I saw the problems that were growing in our health care system firsthand, and the injustice of allowing people to go without health insurance. When President Obama began a push for health care reform, I knew I wanted to do what I could to help—so I began volunteering for Organizing for America.
On the day of the final vote for the Affordable Care Act, we were all so excited. We had organized an emergency phone bank to urge members of Congress to vote in favor of the bill, and when it finally passed it was an amazing feeling. It showed me that the work we had been doing really did make a difference.
After health care reform I stayed involved. Right now my work is focused on team capacity building, which means identifying people who would make strong members of neighborhood teams. I look for people who are passionate about helping the President and have knowledge about how to best organize their communities. I then look at areas where neighborhood teams are needed, and get to work building them.
Neighborhood teams and volunteer leaders are extremely important to the campaign. They are scattered around the larger community like pieces of pepperoni on a pizza—and they make up the foundation of how we are going to win in 2012. Aside from the work teams are doing in our own communities here in California, we also spend time helping to register new voters and canvass neighborhoods in Nevada, which is expected to be one of most closely contested battleground states.
California is such a diverse state and so many issues are important to different people. We want fairness in our immigration laws and a school system that provides a high quality education to children everywhere. And because California is such a beautiful place—we have everything from mountains to ocean coastline—environmental protection issues are important to Californians across the state.
As I speak to people during phone banks and at events, I am encouraged by what I’m hearing. People were fired up when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed and are thankful that President Obama was able to get that done. There are also a lot of supporters who are excited by the President’s jobs plan and are frustrated with obstruction coming from Congress. It has translated into more people coming out to volunteer and asking what they can do to help the President.
I used to think that just one person volunteering couldn’t make a huge difference. Boy was I wrong. By getting involved in the campaign, you are contributing your own talents to helping the President—and you are encouraging other people to get involved as well. That’s how one person can make a difference—by standing side by side with other supporters who are learning from each other to build a stronger campaign.