March 12, 2024

Super Tuesday: A New Thesssaloniki Volunteer's Takeaway

Linda Manney, third from left, with fellow Thessaloniki Super Tuesday volunteers, Lambrini Nassis, Randall Warner, Christine Willis, Effie Nabhan, Joann Ryding, ACT Student Volunteer Despina Krlevski.

My impressions as a volunteer for the Thessaloniki GPP:
Impeccable organization, lively crowd, supportive colleagues – I’d DEFINITELY do it again!


By Linda Manney, Volunteer, Thessaloniki Chapter of DAGR

Since I joined the Thessaloniki chapter of DAGR nine years ago, I’ve felt a strong rapport with the local DAGR community.  My first encounter with DAGR was at a Fourth of July party hosted by DAGR member-at-large, Peter Baiter, in the enclosed garden of his home in Thessaloniki.  The party was a huge success, of course, but it was especially fortunate for me that Randall Warner, now our local DAGR Chapter Chair, was also present. 

A few months later, Randall arranged to meet me in a local cafeteria, and after we had finished our coffee and sweets, she showed me how to register to vote on the VFA website.  After that, I found my way to more DAGR parties, now at the home of DAGR member-at-large Daniel Roberts and his wife, Francoise Falise, and then to Happy Hours at the famous Dubliner Pub in central Thessaloniki. 

So, when Randall asked me to help with the GOTV phone bank project this past January, it seemed like a promising new phase in my already warm relationship with the Thessaloniki chapter of DAGR.  After my experience as a volunteer on the phone bank team, which I really liked a lot, I volunteered to help with the GPP in Thessaloniki.

Working as a first-time volunteer in the Thessaloniki GPP on March 5, I was quite impressed with how smoothly events progressed throughout the day.  Local DAGR officials successfully created a relaxed and friendly ambience for all participants at the voting site, DAGR volunteers as well as those who came to vote; it was evident that our Thessaloniki DAGR Chapter Chair, Randall Warner, had devoted a lot of time and energy to plan and oversee all tasks undertaken during the day.   As a result, the voting center clearly conveyed our serious purpose, yet it was warm and welcoming, and provided all the support I needed to complete my tasks effectively, from the time I arrived at midday, until I left at closing time.

When I walked into the voting center at ACT, the three main areas of activity were clearly marked and easy to find: one station where people could register to vote in the November 2024 elections, one where people could join DAGR, and one where DAGR members could vote in the GPP.  Randall quickly found me and carefully explained the work I would be doing to help people join DAGR.  Dr. David Wisner of the ACT Dukakis Center then appeared with a computer he had brought from his office, and he logged me into the ACT network so that I could begin my job of helping people join DAGR.

I was especially impressed with the energetic response of new DAGR members that I was helping to join.  Many of the newly joined members were young Americans enrolled in the study abroad program at ACT, and most were eager to talk about their experiences living abroad and to hear more about the experiences of expat Americans living in Greece. All were interested in the American elections, and they were eager to participate by voting in the GPP.  I also talked to some colleagues from Pinewood American International School, friends and acquaintances from the broader Thessaloniki community, faculty from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and some former students.  I felt really energized in such good company, and happy to work on my assigned tasks in such a positive environment.

I also appreciated the comfortable interactions with other DAGR volunteers who were present, particularly the two tellers who were working at the table next to mine, signing up DAGR members to vote in the GPP: Joann Ryding and Satchel Martin.  I am especially grateful to Satchel, who provided a lot of help with technological questions, helping us find crucially important information online, such as postal codes for addresses in Greece and the USA, and projecting a sense of calm when we were at our busiest.

All in all, for me the day was long but rewarding, and the sense of solidarity and camaraderie I felt with other volunteers left me with a great feeling that lasted several days after the event.  I truly appreciate having had the opportunity to participate in a US federal election in Greece, and to share in the lively spirit of both the volunteers and the people who came to join DAGR and / or vote in the GPP election.