Cory Booker July 4
July 4, 2013 - Yes my first day ever volunteering for a political campaign is the 4th of July. Pretty fitting. I woke this morning to find the following email from Cory Booker waiting in my inbox:
Today is our great nation's 237th birthday, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
I'll be spending the day talking to voters who are celebrating the holiday down the shore, and I hope you'll get a chance to celebrate with your family and your community as well.
But as you celebrate, keep in mind that we each drink from wells of freedom and opportunity we did not dig. We must give thanks not in words but in continuing America's tradition of service. Day by day, that's how we continue to strengthen our nation.
That can mean deciding to enlist in our Armed Forces or becoming a teacher or running for office. But it can also mean lending a hand to someone who needs your help. The biggest thing you can do today is likely a small act of kindness or generosity.
Thank you for joining me,
I hope my contribution as a volunteer counts as an act of kindess. I know I felt proud to serve the people of New Jersey today by doing my small part to make sure we have the best representation possible in Washington. Let me share with you how the day went....
The volunteer coordinator selected about 10 volunteers to go to a breakfast before we started our volunteer work on the boardwalk. I really didn't know what to expect. I imagined Cory Booker would be addressing an audience of supporters, and we (as volunteers) would be helping with greeting, handing out information, collecting information...but I was completely wrong. This breakfast was just for the volunteers!! Holy crap! I was sitting directly across from Cory Booker eating eggs!
Cory Booker spent the entire breakfast going around the table, getting to know each and every one of us and addressing issues that concern us. Obviously, I brought up gay rights, marriage equality, women's rights. I also brought up the NJ "Brain Drain" - smart kids leaving the state for out of state college. It turned out my daughter wasn't offered any Federal Financial aid in New Jersey. (which makes no sense because its Federal! ) I told Cory Booker that I already advised my son not to even bother applying to schools in New Jersey. He addressed all my topics/concerns with incredible insight and sensitivity - as he did with each volunteer there. (although he was never able to tell me how a student CAN be awarded Federal Financial aid in every college she applied to EXCEPT the two state colleges in her home state of New Jersey) One of the many great moments at our breakfast was when a young fella shyly shared with us that he will be turning 18 soon and his first vote will be for Cory Booker for U.S. Senate.
I learned that Cory Booker is well versed in Judiasm and studies all religions. He keeps a Bible, Torah and Quran on his desk. He spoke about how Judiasm encourages all to come to the table. He embraces all religions. I, of course, have always felt this way too.
I learned about a lot of really smart initiaves he brought to Newark, NJ as Mayor. He brought jobs and money to the city through very creative and innovative programs. He is a man who likes to find common ground with adversaries. (I don't want to try to explore and explain all of his great programs as I know I won't do them justice. Google him!) He also gets things done. He doesn't just talk the talk...he lives it, he breathes it every day.
As Booker went around the table, getting to know each volunteer, he moved effortlessly from topic to topic. He addressed each issue with information, statistics, background, data or a personal anecdote. He really listened to each and every one of us and made a point of enthusiastically responding. There is something so fundamentally rewarding about feeling you have been heard. (Having a representative who genuinely likes to listen to his constituents surely has be a good thing).
After breakfast we headed over to the Baordwalk to work the crowds. Cory Booker met up wtih Senator Bill Bradley and together they greeted people and posed for pictures. The crowd loves him! We, the volunteers, worked to get folks to sign up to volunteer! My best "get" was when I asked a women to sign up. She confessed to me that her daughter is an aide to Rush Holt. Rush Holt is running against Cory Booker. I signed her up anyway!! HA! I promised not to tell her daughter. :)
It is almost impossible not to feel extremely hopeful and energized after spending time with Cory Booker. I left feeling incredibly impressed. He is extremely bright and has an amazing gift of expressing himself with such eloquence, enthusiasm and clarity. He never talks down to anyone, but is able to express himself in a way that is understandable. It is really a gift. He is funny, charming and very down to earth. I witnessed him effortlessly speak in Hebrew with some of the volunteers and speak in Spanish to some folks on the Boardwalk. You can tell he genuinely and deeply loves people. All people.
That was basically my first day. Pretty awesome. I can't wait to get out again tomorrow!!!
PS - If you would like to volunteer, all are welcome! You can sign up at www.corybooker.com Join the fun with us and be a party of New Jersey history!!