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Q&A with Linda Ford, Volunteer Coordinator: “I will find a role for you!”




It may be hard to believe, but Linda Ford, HCDP’s seemingly indefatigable Volunteer Coordinator, was not always active in politics.


“I’d been pretty sleepy about politics and my role in it for most of my life,” she said. “I did some phone banking for Obama, but that was it. When Trump emerged, I suddenly woke up and realized that it was time to DO SOMETHING. But still, I didn’t do that much. I wrote a few letters and postcards, but not much more. I lived in a safely blue county in Texas and that seemed good enough. We moved here in 2021 and I saw that our way of life is at risk, not just because of national politics but also because of state and local politics.”


Linda started volunteering as part of the HCDP office staff in the fall of 2022 and she took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator in January of last year.


It’s safe to say that ever since then, things have not been the same.


Linda’s energy and ability to envision new ways of engaging Team Blue have successfully built on HCDP’s previous groundwork to create a robust army of volunteers who help with more projects and programs than ever before, including new monthly gatherings like Coffee at The Buzz and this summer’s SING OUT THE VOTE benefit concert.


“I think of myself as the person who matches up volunteers with work so that the volunteer has a sense of satisfaction and the important work gets done,” she said. “That means that I get volunteers engaged in meaningful work as soon as possible, design new roles if needed, and help new teams get off to a good start.”


Now that the election is less than six months away, Linda and all the volunteers have switched into high gear. “As the heat turns up in the political fire, I feel more and more passionate about what we might achieve together. We have a Democrat running in almost every slot on the Henderson County ballot and our volunteers are working hard to help them win. That makes me even more committed to our shared project of electing Democrats up and down the ballot."


Linda feels that her past experiences and skills have uniquely come together to prepare her for this work. “I’m drawing on everything I’ve ever learned, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to do this work at this time with these wonderful people.”

 

Read on for a Q&A with Linda to learn how she will find a role for you, your friends, and anyone committed to democracy.

  
How many volunteers do you have here at HCDP and what do they do?

Believe it or not, we have more than 900 volunteers!  They help host events, they write postcards, do tech support, graphic design, letters to the editor, and tons of legwork. Our office is open from 11 to 2 every day except Sunday and it is run completely by volunteers. And of course, volunteers do phone banking and door knocking and other types of Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. 


Before we jump into the 2024 GOTV opportunities, tell us what you say to someone who may be thinking, “I’d like to get involved but I don’t want to do phone calls or door knocking”?

I say please don’t let that stop you from getting involved because I will find or create a role that works for you. We have many behind-the-scenes opportunities. And if you have an idea about how you can help that is not on the list, please let me know. I’ve had several people come to me with their ideas and we make it work. Sometimes that is where our new, creative projects come from.


Okay, let’s talk about the status of this year’s GOTV program here at HCDP now that the election is less than six months away. How is it going and what are the plans?

 

We are off to a great start. Yep, GOTV prep is in full swing already. I’ve been stunned at how eager people are to jump in. The response to my recent “can you help?” emails has been fabulous. We are brainstorming about new ways we can support this year’s GOTV effort, which is more important than ever because the GOP-controlled legislature has enacted new, more restrictive voting laws and we have to let our people know. For example, Early Voting is shorter this year and it’s in only one location, and mail-in ballots will require photo ID.  The good news is that Bruce Sargent, our second vice chair, is using data to make sure our plans are really solid.  Plus, we’re building on success from previous years’ efforts, so I feel good about the plan and our work so far.


GOTV work is really rewarding. If you’ve never done phone banking or canvassing, this might be your year to give it a try. Bruce’s amazing gift with data ensures that you will only contact voters who support us unless you want to tackle “persuasion.” Our canvassers always come back with lots of stories about how happy people were that we came by.

 

What do you say to unaffiliated voters who may be thinking about getting involved but may be hesitating because they aren’t Democrats?

We welcome unaffiliated volunteers! We realize that in North Carolina, there are more unaffiliated voters than registered voters in either party, and we are happy to join forces. A lot of our volunteers are unaffiliated—truly, nobody differentiates between a registered Dem and a progressive unaffiliated voter. It will take a combined effort from everyone who believes in Democracy to stop right-wing extremists from taking over.


In fact, if you’re a regular at our monthly socials, please consider bringing an unaffiliated friend or neighbor. They could enjoy meeting like-minded people and they may decide to help us out. 


Any final thoughts?

I want to thank our existing volunteers!  It’s such a privilege and honor to work with you.  We’ve had an amazing year filled with growth and energy, and it’s all possible because of YOU. 


Are you curious about getting involved in the most important election of our lifetimes? Contact Linda by filling out the volunteer interest form -OR- by emailing her directly at volunteers.HCDP@gmail.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!

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