This is a critical election, so I first got involved registering people to vote in eastern North Carolina. What I heard and experienced made me take more of a stand and put an Obama bumper sticker on my car. Around the time somebody tried to remove that sticker, I decided I had to participate in the campaign.
I arrived in Asheville just in time for the Obama rally—the first political rally I’ve attended. I was struck by how nice everybody was—all 30,000 of them—waiting calmly in line for hours; sharing water, sunscreen, hopes for our future. We all had the sense that we were participating in history being made. Barack spoke eloquently about making health care more affordable for everyone. He was dignified, kind and graceful. Barack waved at me, and I waved back.
Then I went to the Obama/Biden headquarters on Merrimon to volunteer. I found myself, a very shy person, signing up for canvassing and making phone calls at night. My first day, I canvassed with ladies who were old enough to be my mother, a young mother with a 3-year-old on her hip, a couple in their 30s.
Trudging up hills and knocking on doors on a beautiful fall day is one thing. Making phone calls at night to people I don’t know has been another. I stumble through getting my information across, dialing, trying again. I hear how great the volunteers around me sound, and learn that they have only been doing this one more evening than I—but that means they have at least 110 more calls of experience. There’s Paulette, a young black woman as beautiful as she sounds on the phone; there’s gentle Raja, accompanied by his Indonesian wife; there’s Brian, a field organizer, laughing and joking: “This is Barack Obama, calling from the Brian Griffin campaign.”
There’s the person in the wheelchair, stuffing envelopes; the attorney entering data; the lady who came to Asheville recently and lived in a shelter, but now has an apartment and is working and is registered to vote. There’s the man offering free housing for visiting campaign workers. There’s the little dog lying beside one of the volunteers, not sure why he is here but—like the rest of us—excited to be a part of something big.
Someone announces apple pie in the kitchen—a State-Fair-prize-winner of a pie with a whole bowl of extra filling. That and the spinach casserole have been donated by people who may not be able to canvass or make calls, but who want to help—to be a part of this big thing we are doing.
I remember how Barack waved at me. I waved back and smiled, and shouted: Yes, we can!
— Ann Cary Hevener