A collection of love letters written to the town.
My beloved home – Toledo.
I moved here after I married Bob, a proud Toledo townie. Despite missing my family and friends in the Chicagoland area, I was fortunate to settle into Toledo quickly. I lucked out not only with Bob but also with his great family who live nearby. We thankfully found a cute house just north of the Old Orchard neighborhood and have many great neighbors who have become lifelong friends. And I luckily found a job right away teaching 4th grade at the local charter school – walking distance from our house. It has been a wonderful place to have our two little kids.
But I got to know and love Toledo even more when I stepped out of my lucky bubble a bit while volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. It was the most politically active I have ever been. I think this particular election put the fire in my belly for several reasons – including living in a swing state, believing in Hillary, and wanting a female president. I started my last canvassing shift on the Sunday before Election Day feeling bothered having to knock doors yet again but afterwards, I immediately felt emotional and nostalgic.
Canvassing was a great experience. I walked around unfamiliar neighborhoods and talked to new interesting people in Toledo. I saw former and current students and where they live. Several kind folks welcomed me into their homes to chat in their living rooms. I had a lovely conversation with a veteran on his porch. Bob and our kids came with me a couple times, so we got to show our kids a way we can exercise political agency. My 4-year-old son Marcus and I waited in a long line, thankfully alongside several lovely people, to hear Hillary Clinton speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in Toledo. And even though we lost the presidential election, we won several important local issues. It was still worth the effort.
I made friends with several passionate and kind fellow Toledoans through the campaign. Nicole and Kristin opened up their homes almost every weekend for canvassers to gather and organize. Agnieszka started a very informative Facebook group where she posted a weekly roundup of volunteer opportunities. Shelley volunteered as a poll observer and organized a “family canvass” – to name a few.
After the election, Agnieszka turned her “Helping Hillary in Toledo” Facebook group into a “Helping Each Other in Toledo” group, and we want to keep the momentum going and find ways to help those who need it most in our community. I still teach part-time at the local charter school in our neighborhood, which has many Syrian refugees, so I am particularly excited that our group is reaching out to their families. I am motivated to continue loving, working, and fighting harder than ever for what I believe in, right here in what has become my beloved home – Toledo.
We caught up with Kristen where she teaches reading support — The Central Academy of Ohio in the Old Orchard neighborhood. Kristen isn’t teasing when she said she was married to a ‘proud Toledo townie’ — Bob among other supportive things for this city runs the Toledo Matters Podcast. Between them they support so much about the city in very real ways, and always with a big smile on their faces.