Friday. October 9, 2009.  It’s 2 PM, and I am standing at the airline counter trying to find my boarding pass at Regan International Airport. Passengers willing to go on a later flight to JFK were being given free flights, and I am trying to volunteer when out of the corner of my eye I see the profile of Senator Chris Dodd.  He is wearing a black suit walking slowly and people are waving at him.  I apologize to the lady at the counter, take my boarding pass from her hands, and run after Senator Dodd as he enters the restroom. I call out, probably too loudly, “Senator Dodd!” He turns towards me slowly and stares without saying anything. Out of breath I say, “Senator Dodd, we’re getting closer to $450 million.” Standing there at the entrance of the restroom, he has literally no reaction. I continue, “ President Jimmy Carter spoke to Senator Leahy this week asking him to help the Peace Corps budget.” I wasn’t sure if he had any idea what I was talking about. Then, to my great relief, he nodded in deep approval, smiled and said, “Very good young man.” He emphasized the word good.

I felt so happy. The dots were beginning to connect and in the oddest ways. For the past 22 months I have been coordinating a campaign to double the size of the Peace Corps. Friday October 9th I was heading home to New York after two incredible weeks on the campaign. Senator Dodd is the lone Peace Corps volunteer in the Senate, and I had never spoken to him before this, though tried to on several occasions. It was important for Senator Dodd to know about the phone call from President Carter which his grandson Jason Carter (South Africa 99-01) set up. Jason has helped us a lot, he is incredible.  I remember when we asked Jason if he could speak to his grandad about this issue, he said, “I don’t know where in the world Papa is, but he would want to help.”  When I learned that he had called the chairman of the subcommittee that funds Peace Corps, I was nearly in tears sitting in my hotel room in Woodley Park.  When I was 15 I had been a Habitat for Humanity volunteer and helped build homes down in Homestead Florida.  I remember thinking what a great man Jimmy Carter was to have created Habitat and now to work with him to expand the Peace Corps was pretty amazing.  President Carter frequently talked about his mother Miss Lillian who had been a volunteer working with a leper colony in India.  It’s all because of Jason that President Carter learned about our efforts.

Getting exciting information to people helping you often made them want to help even more, and the excitement just builds and builds - I have learned this on the campaign.
[To be continued…]