Last weekend, I traveled from Boston to Manassas, Virginia to knock on doors for Hala Ayala to help secure her seat in the hopes of flipping the Virginia state legislature.
I am an introvert, and I have never canvassed before. You might wonder how this all came about. A couple of months ago, I was having my Saturday morning coffee and reading the news. I came across an article about millennials who were deciding not to have kids because they did not want to raise children in this environment.
I thought of my own kids who are twelve and ten, and I lost it. I cried uncontrollably for about an hour.
As I reflected on how I was feeling, I knew the only way to feel better was to take action. I reached out to some friends asking for ideas. One strongly recommended Sister District. I signed up immediately and started reading the website. That was when I learned how critical the 2019 election would be for Virginia. I started text banking, and then I signed up to send letters to voters. I still wanted to do more, so I reached out to Michelle at Sister District to see if going to Virginia was an option.
Before I knew it, my niece and I were on our way down. We were both a little nervous and didn’t know quite what to expect. As we arrived at the home of the organizer, we were welcomed warmly and given instructions from an experienced crew.
We had the surprise bonus of a big group from NARAL joining the effort. Their local and national leaders gave inspiring talks. The leader from Virginia shared that she never thought it would be possible to turn Virginia blue, at least not for another ten years. I got choked up and had goosebumps all at the same time.
Moments later, Hala Ayala herself arrived to remind us why she was running. Her message of equality and justice fired us all up for the door knocking ahead. My niece and I set off.
We found our first neighborhood and approached our first house. We took a deep breath and just went for it.
The first house wasn’t our best effort, but each house got better and easier. Given we were only targeting likely democratic voters, almost everyone was friendly and willing to talk. If we hit a string of unanswered doors, we knew we would soon hit one of those houses where the voter was enthusiastic, supportive and grateful for our volunteer efforts. One of my favorite stops was a steep climb up a winding path. At first, we got no response at the door. As we were about to leave literature, a woman opened the door.
“Good morning, are you Dorothy?”
“Hi, I am Erin and this is Kate. We are volunteers for Hala Ayala, democratic candidate for the House of Delegates. There is an important election on Tuesday. Can she count on your support?”
“Absolutely! I am a big fan of hers!”
“Fantastic! Do you know your polling location and have a plan to get there?”
“Oh, yes. I have been planning to get there first thing in the morning. I will make sure my husband comes with me.”
“Great! Thanks so much for your support.”
“Thank YOU for coming out here and for your efforts. God bless.”
By the end of the weekend, we had knocked on 92 doors. I was inspired by our conversations with voters, impressed by the level of organization and filled with hope for the future of our democracy. These candidates are not politicians. They are everyday people who want to make a difference. I am more convinced than ever that our efforts matter.
I look forward to knocking on more doors in the future. If you have ever thought about getting out there, I would strongly encourage you to go for it!