Fall fellow George is enjoying an unexpected side effect of campaigning for President Obama in his hometown of Phoenix: quality time with his mom Cathe, who has decided to come out and volunteer, too.
George: “My parents were the ones who got me interested in being a community organizer. I’ve been training my mom on how canvasses work, best practices for them, and now we’re building a neighborhood team around her.”
Now, Cathe is campaigning after work nearly every day.
Cathe: “I’ve always volunteered, but never on a political campaign … mostly running a youth basketball league in our community. It was just my passion—work wasn’t enough. You’ve got to be out there in the community.”
Cathe has been going door to door to register voters, often meeting Spanish-speakers. She says it can be frustrating—“you have to have a tough skin”—but during our year-out registration drive, she got to know a family that made it all worthwhile.
“It was a tough area to canvass in. I came across a really beat-up old house with the windows boarded up and an abandoned lot next door—but I happened to see a young girl and a young man sitting on a truck out back. I asked them if they were registered to vote, and they said no. Their parents had emigrated from Mexico, but they were both born in the U.S.—so I told them to go get their IDs so we could start signing them up. And then the girl said, ‘My sister, she’s in the trailer over there—she’s 17, can she vote?’ I asked when her birthday was, and it turned out she will be 18 in January—so she ran to get her, and we registered her, too!
“Their mother was outside washing clothes and hanging them on the fence post. As we were talking, she came over and her daughter explained to her in Spanish that she was registering to vote. And this woman was just beaming ear to ear—she was just the sweetest woman—and she was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t understand. Her daughter translated, saying her mother was so happy that I came there and is so proud her three children could vote, even if she couldn’t.”
Cathe is going to stay in touch with the family, who said they all support President Obama—they're interested in helping out with Spanish-speaking phonebanks. And she’ll keep pounding the pavement with her son:
“It’s a bonding experience—and a stress reliever. It’s fun to engage with people, and George and I have had a really great time.”
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