Friday, October 31, 2008

"This is the most important election of my life. I'm on a limited budget. I couldn't afford to keep contributing money, so I volunteer my time."

That was Maria's answer when I asked what had prompted her, at 80 years old, to coordinate office volunteers at Barack Obama's headquarters in Medford, Oregon. It's a small office in a small state (seven electoral votes). I've worked four hours a week over the past month and a half. Maria, along with her dog Jessie, has been here for 5-6 days a week since the office opened. I've seen her in this office doing everything from training new volunteers to entering data (see photo above) to sharpening pencils. Today she even brought in homemade snacks for staff and volunteers.

Dr. Bill Thomas asks (by way of his book title)
What Are Old People For? Maria models a terrific answer to that question. Elders offer expertise, gained over a life time, when something really important needs to be accomplished. We provide leadership or raise money or answer the phone (my job this afternoon) if that will pave the way for positive change. A lot has been said in this election about the importance of the young voters. That’s cool. Young, old, 30 somethings, midlife. This year people of all ages get it. In a democracy our role matters. Voters, volunteers take a bow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008