As soon as she opened the door, she didn’t look very happy to see me. When I told her who I was and my purpose in being there, she looked at me curiously and asked me if I was “for real.” I said, “I’m as real as the health care problem in America!” We both had a laugh.
She went on to tell me about how she is just getting over a stroke, and that her son was recovering from eight surgeries on his hip. She said that what we are doing is great and that I was the best knock she’d had all day. With a smile, she thanked me and said, “Continue fighting!”
I was sitting on the sidewalk finishing up my paperwork for the night. At the end of the street, I noticed a group of young people (11-12 years old) walking toward me. As they passed, one of the young girls said, “What are you doing?” I replied, “I’m working. What are you doing?” After we exchanged small talk, they began asking more questions about the nature of our work. I said, “We’re fighting so that people like you and your grandparents can afford to go to the doctor.”
One of the little girls saw the health care petition on my clipboard and asked me about it. I explained that it was a petition; then told her that two 8-year olds had signed my petition earlier and that they could sign it too. They ripped it from my hands, gathered in a circle on the sidewalk and began filling out the bandage stickers.
I told them that they could do this kind of work too. One of the young boys spoke up and said, “I would tie myself to a tree to fight for something.” So, I responded, “Well, what would you fight for?” He said, “I’d fight for the trees. I like trees.” I told him that there are environmental groups who do that kind of work everyday. I asked another young lady what she would fight for and she said, “I’d fight for the rainforest.”
They eventually got distracted and ran off. But my sincerest hope is that the seeds of activism have been planted and that one day, I’ll answer my door and see one of these kids advocating for a better America.
Today is my observation day. One of the gentlemen I talked to left me with a feeling of accomplishment. When I spoke to him about outsourcing of jobs, he seemed to get sad. He explained that he had lost his manufacturing job and has yet to get back on his feet. By the time I got finished explaining things, he was fired up and ready to go! He signed up as a member with a smile and thanked me for doing this kind of work.
It was the first day of sweat-breaking heat in Dayton, Ohio. The weather was hot in Dayton’s working class west side, but my efforts were not futile. I met a diverse group of people. Prior to my interaction, my night as a trainee was not going as planned, but the influence of my contacts, and their expressed need for change, strengthened my need to push on.
Along my journey I met a nurse who works with veterans. She refuses to leave veterans behind for a higher paying job in England. Her passion reminded me of why I was doing the job I was doing, and how important it is to press on for better health care. The next woman I met had watched me all down the street. She seemed tired as she shared her disgruntled feelings about health care, as she was a diabetic with no health insurance. My heart broke when she mentioned it. I am so proud to be a part of Working America. The TIME FOR CHANGE IS NOW! The need for change is ever present! We are the change!
We’ve all had those nights where we feel like it cannot get any better. It could be a matter of the weather or you may have worn the wrong shoes on turf.
A few days ago I was having one of these nights. My favorite click-y Sharpie stopped working and my targeting was way off. That was until I met a mother and daughter living in Thornton, Colorado. The daughter really inspired me, because her mom signed up and wanted to becoming a dues paying member. Her daughter went to her room and brought back an extra five dollars of her own to add to her mom’s dues payment. From that moment my night changed and it enabled me to have a new outlook on my canvassing that evening.
I’ve been in Colorado for a month now. The people here are amazing, but one woman in particular stands out in my mind. I was canvassing in Thornton, Colorado, which is an area that has been devastated by massive amounts of foreclosures. I met a woman who had been laid off at her job recently because she made too much money and they wanted to pay someone less wages to do her job. She was really thrilled that people were out in her community doing something about the issues that hit home with her, and she joined and gave a dues payment despite the fact that she lost her job.
I encountered a middle-aged man working in his yard while canvassing. After talking about jobs being lost in Pennsylvania, he asked me if I voted in the primary. Of course, my answer was an astounded, “Yes!” He said that he was a Vietnam veteran and that his son was sent to Iraq. He also said that the state of the country was the worst he had seen and that, especially for young people, things really needed to change. He said this primary was the first time in his life he had voted and he was 55 years old.
It’s a nice spring day in Swoyersville, a small community devastated by job loss. I walk up to an older couple who are sitting on their front porch enjoying the sun. I began talking to them about the jobs that had been outsourced from the area. The couple both got up and said, “Son, hand over that clipboard and let us join the fight!”
After they signed up, the husband told me that his son had a job that sent him to school and paid half his tuition, so that he could work for them. Their son graduated from school only to find that the business was moving their operation to Mexico! This guy thanked me for the work I was doing and told me that if anyone on the block gave me a problem to tell them that Mark said to sign up.
While canvassing in Dayton, Ohio (the second rated city in America for job loss), I met a man who told me his job had been outsourced to Asia after working there for 13 years. This man was a very big, well-built gentleman and when he talked about his job with a lump in his throat and a tear in his eyes he seemed to physically shrink when describing the situation. Thankfully he was able to obtain a position as a corrections officer, though he wasn’t particularly fond of his new employment.
He shook my hand and thanked me for the work I was doing and had absolutely no hesitation about becoming a dues-paying member of our organization. He handed me an ice cold bottle of water before I left. The whole time thanking me for my work. I just want to give Working America a huge shout-out for giving me the opportunity for doing some good in what is sometimes a cold, confusing world!
P.S. To all Working America staff, in every state, keep up the good fight because we really do make a big difference.