Droves of volunteers gather at West Oak Lane field office to celebrate Obama’s convention speech

With star-shaped balloons floating over their heads, more than 100 volunteers gathered at Barack Obama’s campaign field office in West Oak Lane to watch a live stream of their candidate’s speech at the party convention in Charlotte, NC on Thursday night.

For more than an hour, they hollered, cheered and participated in a Google+ “hangout” which enabled house parties across America to interact with one another; images from the online gathering were live streamed to the Democratic National Convention itself.

Their sentiments were the campaign standards of “Four more years, Obama” and “Fired up, ready to go.”

Why they were there

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Mt. Airy resident Betty Potter, who also volunteered on the 2008 campaign and was nominated to lead the West Oak Lane discussion, hoped to bring up the proposed healthcare reform, which she refers to as “Obama Cares” instead of “Obamacare,” during the live feed.

“I was honored to be selected because there are so many positive things that I could say about the president and his family,” said Potter. “I am so proud of how he improved relationships with foreign dignitaries. That is so important.”

While she never got a chance to broach the subject, she cited the reasons why she approved of the measure: that she and her husband would pay the same monthly premium, how it will allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 and how those with existing illnesses will not be denied coverage from health providers and insurance companies.

The plan will greatly impact neighborhood volunteer coordinator Sabra Townsend, who is a mother of an autistic child. She said the plan is one of the differences between the parties.

“The Republican Party supports the wealthy people, not those who have hit hard times and especially not those with disabilities,” said Townsend. “We have to move forward, make sure that we have a middle class that is working and safety nets when people get ill.”

Reactions to Thursday night’s speeches

The room erupted into raucous applause when Vice President Joe Biden took the stage and spoke about the president’s character and ability to make difficult decisions when faced with adversity. The “Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive” line was a hit here.

Then, Obama took the stage.

For 24-year-old volunteer Kashif Jones and West Oak Lane resident, the theme of hope from the 2008 presidential election still resonated.

He said he believes everyone should be treated equally and given a chance in life, and that the speech showed Obama is beholden to people, not lobbyists.

“I come from a poor family and sometimes I think about going to college and have to consider my financial problems and I get turned off about it,” said Jones, who recently obtained his associate’s degree from Community College of Philadelphia. “Obama gave me hope about taking that chance and following my dreams.”

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