When the going gets tough, Lighthouse gets going. Since the onset of COVID-19, employees have stepped up in major ways, utilizing Lighthouse’s volunteer time off (VTO) benefit to give back to those most affected. Some have made masks, some delivered meals and PPE equipment, and others gave back on election day.
In August, Lighthouse launched a voting resources page to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, also providing ways employees could use their VTO to support voting awareness. Volunteer poll workers, who tend to be senior citizens, were expected to be in high demand due to COVID-19 risks. A few Lighthouse employees stepped up to use their VTO to fill in this important role of working the polls on election day.
Stephen Martinez, Lighthouse Accounts Receivable Manager, and Jonetta White, Lighthouse Proposal Marketing Manager, shared their experiences volunteering at the polls for the first time.
Stephen was able to volunteer at a polling location in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco where he lives.
“With everything happening in 2020, and with the election that was coming, I felt compelled to do something during a year when feeling helpless was the norm.”
Because it was his first time volunteering at the polls, he wanted to ensure he did his part. He studied every day for weeks, watching the San Francisco Department of Elections video tutorial countless times. When it came to the big day, Stephen woke up at 4 a.m. and didn’t leave the polling location until 11 p.m.! His tasks included sanitizing polling booths, checking people in, helping voters scan ballots, and even registering people day of.
“The most rewarding part of all was seeing the different voters who showed up: first-time voters, special-needs voters, elderly voters, young voters; it was unforgettable. They were all completely excited, as was I,” he said. “With so many people wanting to turn out for the election, I experienced something in 2020 I didn’t know I wanted. Thank you very much, Lighthouse, for making me part of the election process, all because of the benefit of VTO. It was tiring, anxiety inducing, exciting, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
Jonetta worked the polls in Wilmington, Delaware at the East Side Charter School. She was inspired to become a poll worker after she read about how senior citizens were staying indoors due to COVID-19, leading to a shortage of poll workers. Many polling locations were also in jeopardy of closing unless healthy young people stepped up. Jonetta decided to answer the call.
Her day began at 6 a.m. when she arrived at her polling location to set up. When the polls opened, the lines were packed and the excitement was palpable. Jonetta, along with her team, helped more than 400 people vote in a community with traditionally low voter turnout.
“The day was long and grueling, but I enjoyed engaging with local community members and supporting them in exercising their right to vote.”
When the polls finally closed at 8 p.m., Jonetta was left with a feeling of accomplishment and a desire to help her community as a poll worker in the future.