|Join Our Mailing List!|
This post was written by Frank Kloch of Triangle Freethought Society discussing one of their recent service events.
On the evening of February 28, 2012, a group of Triangle Freethought Society members volunteered for the Coalition to Protect NC Families phone bank in Raleigh, NC. The phone bank was established as an urgent effort to inform potential voters about the May 2012 "Amendment One" proposal that would amend the NC constitution to further restrict the definition of marriage and, effectively, deny domestic partnership status to any unmarried NC couple.
TFS is a member organization of Volunteer Beyond Belief and, as such, at least once a quarter we commit to charity work in the community to help make it a better place and to show that we can be good without god. This quarter’s event was chosen because our members feel this is a discriminating amendment based solely on religious ideology and we want to do all we can to see Amendment One defeated on May 8, 2012.
Those who do phone banking are given a list of registered voters for the area--you don’t do cold calling, so most of our targeted voters are picked to be most likely to oppose the amendment. Trainers, such as Morgan Hinton, a coordinator from protectncfamilies.org, give you a short script to follow, and before long you are breezing through using your best voice and terminology, conveying a calm, convincing message on the importance to vote.
Our job was twofold: to call and see if voters are aware of Amendment One and to poll their response. If they are against it, they would most likely voice their opposition, and that gives volunteers encouragement to plug away at making these calls. Sometimes calling like this can be frustrating because, of course, we get why this amendment is wrong and it's hard to understand why other people don't agree. It's also frustrating because many, if not most, of the numbers dialed don't get answered--I have been doing phone bank calls at another location, and from my experience about 80% of the calls are logged in as "NH" (the code for not home). We also get some cute answering messages, some default messages that sound like robots, some just ring and ring and the occasional default to fax machine with its screeching reverberations.
But when someone does actually answer, our job was to talk to the person whose name is listed. Remember those annoying calls you got after dinner? Now we are them and some people don’t want to be bothered! "None of your business," "take me off your calling list," and "that’s private" are just a few of the responses you will get. We get to tally their responses and I get excited if I get two or three number ones. Number one means they oppose Amendment one. That is my inspiration. Who knows if that one caller you reminded to vote on May 8, 2012, is the one vote that put us over the top!
If you are anxious about speaking on the phone but have a laptop, you can also do data entry at phone banks. Two of our members, Kristen and Dale, were gracious enough to volunteer their time and laptops to do just that, but it was a bit frustrating as the computer system that logs that information kept bumping them out of the system. They attempted many times to enter all those calls we made that night and were thwarted. Their presence and volunteer spirit was nonetheless appreciated, I’m sure, by all there.
At the end of the phone bank, the organizer debriefed us to get feedback about the night and its effectiveness. She asked about our personal experiences, the funniest call, rudest call, or most inspiring call. You will know you are not alone and learn from other callers in their quest to defeat this amendment.
My wish is that our calls make the difference by a wide majority in turning down this amendment so that all families have equal rights. If you missed this phone bank, there are many opportunities for you--all you need is to do like many of us do today: Google it!
And of course afterward the Triangle Freethought Society--keeping up with its image as the most fun group in North Carolina--met for a late dinner and drinks at Buffalo Brothers Pizza and Wings. I am sorry I missed that part and hope all who did partake had a great time. Next time!