‘Just a Beginning’

September 25, 2016 - storage organizer

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Community organizer Tammie Hagen helps Lyndon Williams fill out a voter registration form. (Photo by Tina Eshleman)

It’s 8 a.m. Tuesday, and underneath a rain-threatening sky, Tammie Hagen is operative a throng during a GRTC send piazza on Ninth Street downtown. She greets me while articulate with Lyndon Williams, a 48-year-old Chesterfield County proprietor who’s watchful to locate a bus. He tells us he served 18 months after a transgression self-assurance as a unreasoning delinquent for pushing infractions, though he schooled that as of Sept. 2, his polite rights have been restored.

Hagen, a full-time village organizer with a nonprofit New Virginia Majority, helps him fill out a voter registration form. 

“Do we trust you’re going to get your registration card?” she asks, observant that some people are indeterminate after a Virginia Supreme Court revoked a rights restorations announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Apr and afterwards challenged by Republicans in a General Assembly.

Williams says his voter registration focus was deserted twice in a past 6 months, once since of a Supreme Court’s Jul decision, and before that, since he was not eligible. In August, McAuliffe announced he had re-restored rights to scarcely 13,000 Virginians whose voter registration had been canceled by a Supreme Court movement and vowed to continue reviewing and restoring a rights of those who have finished their sentences and are no longer underneath active supervision.

“I have to have faith,”  Williams says. “I feel like a chairman again. we feel like we count, we matter.”

Like many in his shoes, he faces an ascending conflict to recover his life. Transportation, anticipating a job, creation adequate income to live on — all those necessities are some-more severe after you’ve served time.

“It’s not only a routine of being sealed up,” Williams says. He was expelled from jail in Aug 2006, and now does occasional work for a internal relocating and storage association though would like to find a full-time job. “Everywhere we go, it follows you. The rug is built opposite you.”

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Tammie Hagen, a village organizer with a New Virginia Majority, spends a lot of time articulate with intensity electorate during a GRTC train send plaza. (Photo by Jay Paul)

As someone with her possess transgression record from drug-related convictions, Hagen, 51, knows that feeling all too well. She tells of checking her bank change a few days before Christmas one year, when she was scheming to buy groceries for a holiday dinner, and saying that she was $37,000 in a red from child support coercion charges that accrued while she was incarcerated. More recently, she had to put her office of a college grade — psychology, with a teenager in eremite studies — on reason since she defaulted on her loan.

Hagen had her rights easy on Sept. 2, a same day as Williams, and she’s watchful to accept her voter registration card. This year’s choosing will be a initial time she’s ever voted, and she feels driven to assistance as many people as probable register before a state’s Oct. 17 deadline. If they’ve mislaid their right to opinion since of a rapist conviction, she shows them how to request for replacement or check their status.

 “I don’t ask about who they’re going to opinion for. Some demonstrate that they’re not crazy about possibly candidate,” she says of vital celebration presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “I inspire people to investigate a possibilities for mayor, legislature and School Board. We need a lot of change in a city.”

Having a opinion means carrying a voice, being means to ask questions, she says: Why can’t people get a train into a counties? Why are there food deserts in bankrupt neighborhoods? Why do some kids from East Richmond explain West End addresses so they can attend improved schools? Why can’t we enhance Medicaid to residence a need for programs to assist with obsession and mental health care?

From early morning until as late as 10 p.m., Hagen visits college campuses and libraries, drug diagnosis centers and feeding programs, festivals and events — anywhere she competence be means to strech intensity voters. She’s turn a unchanging participation during a send plaza. On a day like this, she says, she’ll speak to a integrate hundred people and have conversations with 30 to 40.

“People know who we am,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Are we a lady who does a restoration?’ we adore it — we get to be shoulder to shoulder with another tellurian being. we wish to lift them up. ”

Two other group proceed her as we talk. One introduces himself as King Sha of a New Black World Order. The 45-year-old Richmonder (also famous as Lawrence Robinson) recently had his rights restored, though he’s doubtful about participating in a domestic process. He says that Hagen and her colleagues helped convince him to register to vote. “They kept chewing during me,” he says. “They pennyless down my wall.” Who knows? he says. He competence even run for mayor one day.

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