by Cecily Scott-Martin
Volunteering with Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) at the Democratic National Convention was the first time I have ever been to a presidential convention.
The build up to the convention was awesome. We arrived in the Pennsylvania Convention Center to set up before most organizations were even in town. This gave us the opportunity to wander around and get to know the space before security started changing the restrictions.
The first day was mainly us filling swag bags – a big draw to our space. The swag bags were seemingly never ending, but what made that first day so great was help we got. Not only were our volunteers incredibly efficient, but a bunch of them were kids.
There is something amazing about seeing a bunch of middle schoolers truly give their time to help.
They were initially going to spend their day just following their mom around the convention center while she worked, but instead they came to help us. That first day couldn’t have been the success it was without the great helpers we had.
In the Convention Center, where the SCAN lounge was, everyone was listening to speakers and chatting with other attendees. We had virtual reality tours of a variety of Save the Children programs, a photo booth, two games of corn hole set up, seating areas, our pledge pulled up on several iPads and more bags of swag than I could count. This made us the largest installation with a big crowd nearly every day.
I also had the amazing opportunity to go to the Wells Fargo Arena where each night luminaries spoke.
The two words I would use to describe the feeling of being in the arena would be “electric chaos.”
As people argued over seats and soaked in every speaker, there was a constant sensation that everyone was there for a very important reason and personal purpose. The passion with which the audience watched and responded to the speakers made it clear that everyone had been waiting with building anticipation.
Listening to Hillary Clinton speak specifically on the importance of equal access to education during her acceptance speech was a huge highlight of the week for me. Watching a woman accept a nomination from a major party is the largest turning point in history I have personally witnessed. Being in the arena was a hectic journey through a series of closed roads, security check points and confused cab drivers. The Wells Fargo Center was a pretty long commute from the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia but completely worth the effort.
Being able to speak to people individually about the work done by SCAN in the lounge gave me the satisfaction of knowing we were vocalizing our purpose directly to the source: politically-engaged constituents.
Putting the power and voices of constituents behind our issues of early childhood education and ending preventable deaths helps make passing simple legislation more achievable with each person we talked to. By the end of the week I had lost my voice and given the convention my all Showing visitors around our lounge, meeting the people who make the DNC what it is and attending different social/networking events was a tiring but fulfilling experience.
By the end of the week our good work at the lounge was visible. Being able to walk down the street and see backpacks, buttons and fans with Save the Children Action Network printed on them was one of the most satisfying moments because I knew each one of those people now knew our message and goal. We really left our mark on the DNC.