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Volunteers Across America: Hawaii

Aloha, my name is Loretta Giannotti and I’m joined by Hope Busto-Keyes. Together, we’re working as volunteers for Obama 2012 in the great state of Hawaii.

I am a newcomer to the Obama campaign—I decided to get involved in supporting President Obama this past summer. After attending a volunteer meeting, I was lucky enough to meet Hope, who was already an active organizer in our community. With a little prodding from Hope, I took the step of hosting a celebration for the President’s 50th birthday, and it was a great success. After that, Hope asked if I would be interested in becoming a fall fellow for the campaign. We decided to work together to build this campaign in our neighborhood, and so far it’s been a great experience.

We are organizing neighborhood teams and looking for people who want to be involved and take ownership of the campaign. Each week we hold meetings with the state director to talk about ongoing projects and ways we can reach more supporters. The reaction we’ve received from the community so far has been great. For example, we don’t have a field office, but a local restaurant was nice enough to open their doors and allow us to work from there.

President Obama has been working tirelessly to make progress for our country, and the things he’s already achieved are helping Hawaiians. The list is long: health care reform, helping homeowners, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and college tuition reform are just a few of the policies that the folks we speak with say are making the biggest impact in their lives. We are also so proud of the way that President Obama conducts himself—it represents the best of the tolerant and inclusive nature of Hawaii.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was such a moving achievement. As a gay American who worked for years with defense contractors, it seemed like I had to hide my sexual orientation and who I was. It was a liberating moment when President Obama stood up and said our country values the service of every person, and that we would be a nation of inclusion, not exclusion.

We’ve been able to accomplish so much, but Hawaiians are focused on doing even more. We need to pursue a more sustainable and renewable energy policy. We need immigration reform. We need to invest in our infrastructure. And we need to continue to build solid relationships within the Asia-Pacific region. These are issues that President Obama has been leading on, and it’s up to us to fight for him to have the time to get them done.

This fall, while President Obama was holding a fundraiser here in Hawaii, Hope and I had the honor of meeting him. We were both nervous. I couldn’t stop thinking about just how amazing it was that I was actually getting to meet the President of the United States. I’ll never forget what he had to say to us: “Thank you.” The fact that he was acknowledging the hard work that volunteers were doing on his behalf was refreshing and it made me so proud to have him representing our nation to the world.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Loretta and Hope

Volunteers like Loretta and Hope are stepping up in Hawaii to build neighborhood teams and bring more people into this campaign. Follow the action on OFA Hawaii’s Facebook page.

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