History Accommodates

The winter of 2009 was an exciting time for me. It was senior year of college. More specifically the LAST semester of college! I couldn't wait to graduate, to get started on "real life", to take advantage of the opportunities that were waiting for me, to finally.. START!

That year I had been interning at a small nonprofit that was creating major movements across the nation. Through the incredible vision of its powerful and idealistic leader, the organization was creating national issue based campaigns that mobilized coalitions of other non-profits, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, leaders in the private sector, and even those in the armed forces. It was through this organization with a staff of less than 20 that I first fell in love with creating large scale impact and social change. Honestly, I could spend months talking about the things that we did and all the community organizing, and grassroots mobilization that I learned - but that's not why you're here. 

You're here to find out about how I went with some of the most visionary individuals I have ever met to America's historic 2009 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. Not only did I go but watched as some of the staff participated in the march, attended the youth ball, did community service and .. so much more. I was caught in this momentum of one major national event after another, and barely had time to breathe as I found myself surrounded by the major participants. It was unreal. 
It was 3 days before the entire staff and I were due to fly to D.C. As the intern I was making double, triple, and quadruple checking the numbers of those registered for our inauguration week events. In the background phones were ringing off the hook, staff members had a blackberry in one hand and their desk phone in the other - it was clear that we were busy with last minute event preparations. 

"Hey Sandy, so are you all set for D.C.? Do you have a place to stay and stuff?"
"Oh yeah. A bunch of my friends and I will be going together and we're crashing at a friend's apartment."
"Alright guys! I just emailed everyone the final event schedule for the week. Please email me back the time you will be arriving in D.C. and your cell phone in case we need to reach you." 
I opened the schedule and was thrilled just reading the event locations, never mind what we would be doing there. But because we were the organization that was hosting these events, the times that we needed to be there were a little less than thrilling. For several events we would need to be there at 7 or 8AM sharp, for one of them even at 5:30AM. As a college intern in her last semester, I was still honestly struggling with getting out of bed before 10AM. 

But then a major problem suddenly dawned on me. For weeks every single major news outlet was covering the Inaugural preparation for our nations' first black president. There was talk of tightened security. Closed bridges. Closed roads. Limited taxis. Closed rail systems. How would I be getting to these places?? 
"Hey umm.. I have a question. How are we getting to these places?"
"There's going to be a car that we've hired to pick everyone up... oh.. shoot.. wait. We don't know if it's wheelchair accessible."
For the rest of that day and the next two days after that we scrambled to find an accessible van. It seemed as though every single company that we called was already booked. Or they were simply unavailable. Or they just weren't going to be driving around during that week. 
"Sandy, don't worry we're going to figure this out. You've been with us for the past year you're definitely coming with us. You should be a part of this too because you worked on it just as hard as we have." 

At long last, merely one day before everything was to begin the organization found a wheelchair accessible van. Actually, it was a limo. A 25 passenger limo that showed up at 5:30AM one morning in front of my friend's apartment. Oh, and it had driven over from New Jersey. The sun had yet to fully rise and it was a freezing cold gray January morning; but I was not only in D.C. for a momentous moment, I was actually going to participate in the history that was in the making. There was no time to be tired, no time to be exhausted, no time to be complaining about the cold. As I boarded the lift I smiled at my friends as we were all thinking the same thing, this is it - change is here and the world is waiting. 

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