Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
What it’s like to volunteer on a campaign for the first time

by Jay Gutovich

Before anything else, I should start by explaining why I chose to work on a campaign in the first place. I had recently gotten a taste for politics – at that time, I hadn’t quite figured out why. A close family friend of mine happened to be heavily involved in politics, and out of the blue, I called her up and asked what I could do to get involved. It turned out that she was working on a campaign in the riding I was living in, and they needed volunteers. She said that I should come into the office the next day to check things out.

When I first walked into the campaign office I felt like I was walking into a war zone. Opening the door was like breaking a vacuum seal: the rush of energy was shocking. People were chattering away at phones, rushing past to deliver messages, calling to each other through the fray; all that was missing was landmines and fighter planes. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed. Not five seconds later, I was greeted calmly and pleasantly by one of the volunteers. I was rather startled by his composure and odd-but-familial friendliness. He brought me over to the volunteer coordinator, who was scurrying around a pile of boxes in the back, looking for a specific set of papers. My escort called her up to hand me over and immediately I recognized my family friend. After a warm greeting, she comically explained the protocol for new volunteers: basically, you get tossed in the water. It’s the fastest way to learn. And with a close-knit group like this, it is also the most fun!

I volunteered every day that week. Everyone teaches everyone else, and everyone loves to do it – we all come for the same reason: we support a common cause. I made tons of friends, unexpectedly ran into a few old ones, and without even realizing it found myself fitting right into the swing of things. I very quickly fell in love with the thrill of working with people that shared similar values to myself, and that were working together for a greater cause.
What I remember most vividly about my first day is those first few moments. I walked in knowing literally nothing. Within the hour, I felt like I was with family; what I first thought was chaos was more like being in the middle of a school of fish, all swimming as one.

Click here to become a volunteer on a campaign.