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Volunteers across America: Maine

My name is Diana Beach. I’m an Episcopal priest and a psychoanalyst. These days, I’m semi-retired and working as a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Thomaston, Maine.

After Super Tuesday in 2008, I decided I needed to find out everything I could about Barack Obama. As soon as I finished reading his book, I said “Oh yeah, we gotta get him elected.” I worked hard during the campaign, and after the election I started meeting with neighbors to do what President Obama suggested: grassroots organizing. That's how the Monday Morning Meeting was born.

Every Monday since October 2009, a dozen or so of us have met to tackle all sorts of issues. We worked hard for health reform, environmental issues, local candidates—you name it. We have a newsletter that reaches almost 200 people. We gathered petitions, wrote a lot of letters to the editor, testified on various pieces of legislation in the area—until this year we morphed into what we were born to do, which is re-elect the President. This will be our primary focus until November.

We meet in Midcoast, which is a rural area of Maine. I’m 65 years old, and I’m one of the youngest. We represent five or six towns—it’s a pretty broad group. We work as hard as we can to help shape this campaign in Maine.

These days I’m officially a neighborhood team leader. My favorite part is the human interaction. I don’t get to do as many phone calls as I might like, because I’m calling the people who are making phone calls—that’s my one regret. But this position is pulling out just about everything I’ve learned in my life. You need to be a therapist, a teacher, a pastor, a group process person—I’m reveling in making it all work. That’s the heart of it—and heart is the perfect word. These are people I care about enormously, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.

Here in Maine, we care a lot about environmental issues. We’re right on the coast, so that’s a huge issue for us: conservation and smart growth. And right now, every woman I know—and every man who knows a woman—is completely up in arms about the Republican war on women. We’ve got people showing up every week saying, “Why is this happening, what can I do?” And every time something comes up locally, my team is so great about mobilizing Mainers—they just step up and do it.

We’re having a ball—that’s the first thing I would say to anyone who’s thinking of volunteering—and you could be a part of it. The second thing I would add: We have this precious time before the Republicans get their act together, and we need this time to do our organizing and build our base so that by the time we hit the real crunch, we’ll be so well-organized that we’ll just be ready for whatever they can throw at us.

Be a part of the campaign—sign up to volunteer in your area.

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