Sat 8/15 -- Around New Rochelle today volunteers from Westchester Health Care Reform Task Force (WHTRCF) http://westchesterhealthcarereform.org/ and Organizing for America (OFA) http://www.barackobama.com/index.php were on a drive to gather signatures for their petition in support of President Obama’s Health Care initiative.
To find out more about the project we asked a volunteer named Ellen a few questions about her role.
Ellen attempts to gather a signature from a self-identified Mexican
The volunteers were organized by OFA through an email request. Asked if there was a preparatory meeting before the volunteers spread out across New Rochelle to gather signatures, Ellen, with a straw hat and walking shorts, looking, to me, like a retired schoolteacher, responded with, "we have a lot of meetings". Ellen indicated there were 10 or 12 others canvassing for signatures throughout the city. We saw another volunteer fitting a similar description at the north east corner of Main and North Ave., the crossroads of downtown New Rochelle.
Apparently, Ellen is a veteran activist here in Westchester. She volunteered for John Kerry and Barack Obama, participated in the Anti-War protests in Rye, and supported the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their "crimes against the Constitution".
The organizations (OFA and WHTRCF) that Ellen was volunteering for today were advocating the "Strong Public Option" in the health care reform measure now up before Congress and were particularly concerned that Senator Schumer not compromise this important Health Care reform principle. Influencing representatives through petitions, post cards, and phone banks were other parts of the volunteer work she has been involved with. They make out of state phone bank calls to influence legislators outside of NY. Their NY phone bank is calling other states senators and representatives to influence their votes on legislation.
Ellen pleasantly canvassed people for their signatures. She said she was not afraid to ask anyone a question, and she wasn’t. No one signed her petition while I was interviewing her, however she only needed one more to complete her task. She was very knowledgeable about the President’s agenda as she spoke with people across from the old Federation Thrift Shop on North Ave. She stood right below a large American Flag hung in a storefront window.
With Nita Lowey only doing “telephone town halls”, this may be the only way for New Rochelle citizens to talk to a confirmed believer in the President’s Health Care initiatives without going through a pre-screening process.
The volunteers were supplied with pre-printed posters and glossy brochures from the Barack Obama OFA organization. This was a very organized effort with both National Organization (OFA) and local (WHTRCF) coordination.
The President sent his troops to NR this hot Saturday in August. This is community organization from the top. They were nationally and locally organized.
If you care about the health care bill, now is the time to have your voice heard. Call Nita Lowey, Schumer and Gillibrand. Send emails and letters.