Ten state community organizers representing Organizing for America in Wisconsin were invited to meet with the President prior to the Town Hall meeting today in Green Bay. Kelly Gallaher of Racine was one of the participants representing southeast Wisconsin and the 1st Congressional District.
Gallaher is a member and coordinator of Community for Change, an organization of volunteers and organizers from the Obama Presidential Campaign in Racine County. Community for Change is a partner of Organizing for America.
The President was in Green Bay to discuss the need for health care reform and took questions from the audience to explain his agenda.
We asked Gallaher for her impressions, and how it felt to get a hug from the President of the United States:
"We were asked to step downstairs and wait as a group in the weight room. They had set up a curtain and flags and let us know a White House photographer would take individual pictures of us with the President. A few minutes later the President came in with some staffers and Secret Service. He was very friendly and relaxed and we talked a few minutes and then he invited us to take some pictures.Community for Change is organizing a Community Health Care Community Forum and Expo later this summer. More information is here.
"He greeted each of us, asked us who we were and where we were from. After the pictures, we stood around very casually for a few minutes. He thanked us for our hard work and let us know he really appreciated it. He talked about the importance of reforming the health care system and we talked about the work to be done this summer in order to be successful. He was very present in the moment and listened to each of us. Then he said he had some work to do upstairs and I wished him good luck with the speech. We laughed; after all, he's a pretty good speaker.
"We came upstairs and we were sitting in a section with Gov. Doyle, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and many other officials. When we sat down, Gov. Doyle asked if we had met the President and we said we had. He then asked if we got pictures with him. I said yes and showed him my camera; he and the Lt. Governor passed my camera around to see the photos. That was pretty surreal.
"President Obama's speech was, of course, very good. Town Halls are always great because people get to actually ask questions and talk about what is on their mind. The one thing he said that really stuck with me is he is open to all good ideas. He doesn't care where they come from as long as they're good and help get the job done.
"It was a great honor and pleasure to be a special part of today's events. I think it will take a few days to get over the excitement. In the meantime, I've got a great picture to remember it!"