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Volunteers across America: Iowa

My name is Will Reasoner, and I'm from Creston, Iowa. I'm a student and a volunteer for President Obama's campaign.

I started working with the campaign last spring when they were looking for summer organizers. I traveled to five counties in southwest Iowa to help find people who could host events or had the potential to be team leaders.

When I came to school at the University of Iowa, I became a fall fellow. Since then, I've been helping out in Iowa City—mostly on campus—to train leaders and encourage them to branch out. So this summer we trained team leaders, and this fall we helped them grow their teams.

I like sitting in the office when people I haven't met yet come in—maybe this is their first time making calls, or maybe they're kind of timid. But we ask them their name, they share a little bit about their story, and then they just get right on the phone making calls, asking folks to volunteer with them. That's my favorite part of what I do—seeing people who don't have connections in the office come by, donate their time, and build friendships here.

The best part of my job is also the most unexpected. This summer I felt like I had talked to so many people who supported the President that there was no one left I hadn't met—and then, sure enough, I'd be on the phone and find someone new. I'm always surprised by the constant stream of people who are ready to step up and work with the campaign.

We each have our own reasons for being involved. Whether it's equality, women's rights, foreign policy—different things drive different people. I first got involved in politics when my father was a state legislator here in Iowa. He was a Democrat in a fairly conservative area of the state, and he was up for re-election in 2010—right after the state Supreme Court ruled that a statewide ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. That created some heat on my dad in our part of town, and I started seeing signs go up in our neighbors' yards—ugly signs, saying things about my dad and his politics. He lost that election, in his own hometown where he grew up, and that pushed me to realize how important these issues are—once I saw how my dad stood up and what it cost him. It really hit home how important it is to accept other people and protect everyone's way of life, whatever it is.

Coming from the background I did, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is one of my favorite things I've been able to talk about with people. The Affordable Care Act is also huge for people my age. I'm lucky enough to be covered by good health insurance, but I know my fellow college students feel a huge relief knowing they won't have to jump into a career they may not want just because it offers insurance.

To anyone who's thinking of joining the campaign: Just think about your personal stake in this election. The issues that are most important to you are the same reasons why we have to win in November—and that's definitely worth an hour out of anyone's week. Plus, once you get here, I guarantee you'll start falling in love with how the organization works and the friendships it helps you build.

There's something I was taught in our trainings that I always repeat to other volunteers and potential team leaders, and that's this: Our organization isn't built by people who are hired to organize—it's built by ordinary people reaching out to other people they know. That's the whole strategy: just keep finding people until you've organized yourself out of a job, then start over again.

Follow Will and the rest of the Iowa team on Twitter for the latest updates.

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