After our SNAP PAC training at Yale, I was sent to California’s 36th district to work on Dr. Raul Ruiz's reelection campaign during the summer of 2014. I arrived right after the primary and was assigned to the Hemet field office. Since it was the newest location, I had the chance to help establish the foundation and utilize my creativity. Throughout my time there I was right in the midst of grassroots organizing by recruiting, training, scheduling, and managing volunteers. A unique responsibility I had was researching and monitoring the opposing candidate's presence in social media and press coverage. I would prepare daily detailed memos on his online activity. Most of my days were spent making calls, knocking on doors, and registering people to vote. While the tasks were tough, I knew what I was doing was vital to informing people and increasing voter turnout. It paid off, because Dr. Ruiz was reelected in what was considered one of the most competitive congressional races in the country.
As a Virginian, I not only had to adjust to being in a new work environment, but also in another part of the country. It was my first time on the West Coast, but thankfully my host family and team members eased the transition. My short time in SoCal has actually encouraged me to come back to the Golden State. This summer 2015 I will be interning in LA with Teach for America.
I know my experience with SNAP PAC helped me secure that internship, because it made me realize what it could be like to work at a non-profit. While the campaign was not specifically a non-profit, I still had to recruit, manage, and retain volunteers, build relationships, and focus on outreach and community engagement, all while being under-resourced. I learned not only about grassroots organizing, but also about adaptability in the face of challenges. For these reasons, I truly value the opportunity SNAP PAC offered me to develop transferable skills. While I may not be involved in politics any time soon, my contribution to change will be through non-profit work and education and I thank SNAP PAC for giving me the skills that will help me succeed.