Obama For America opened a campaign office in Cape Coral this week.
A grand opening was celebrated Thursday at the office, at 3108 Del Prado Blvd. S., Suite 6. It will serve as a home base, where volunteers for President Barack Obama and other Democrats will be able to connect to area voters.
Cape resident Jamie Symington, neighborhood team leader for east Cape, explained that the volunteers had been headquartered out of the Fort Myers office and had worked out of homes and public places, such as the library.
"The biggest thing about having our headquarters is the energy it breeds," she said. "It's a very positive place - very enthusiast supporters."
Prior to having the office, people were interested in volunteering or helping out, but they were hesitant to just come to an event or a private home.
"This allows a whole new batch of people to enter our pool of volunteers," she said. "It makes it easier and more accessible for people to get involved."
There were between 150 and 200 people in attendance at the opening. Symington said a lot of people obtained information about different events coming up and signed up or got information on how to sign up for them.
"The gist is that people can stop by and get educated on the different opportunities that we have," she said.
Volunteers can sign up for canvassing, which involves going door-to-door in pairs along a specific route to speak to residents about a specific topic.
"We basically carry on conversations at people's door," Symington said.
There is also a need for people to work the phone banks, which involves calling people from a list in an effort to seek support for Obama. Callers ask about possible volunteering, answer questions and provide information.
The office is always seeking people to help as office staff, and other volunteers are trained in data entry or helping with voter registration.
Symington added that people looking for information about Obama's platform, or specific issues like the Affordable Health Care Act, can also drop by the office. Staffers are informed and handouts are available.
The office also has Obama bumper stickers, pins and yard signs to give.
Cape Coral City Councilmember Derrick Donnell attended the grand opening as a Cape resident and was among a handful of speakers. He voted for Obama in 2008.
"My speech wasn't so much about what the opponents can or can't do," he said. "I want to look at the issues and put them on a scale and weigh them."
Donnell acknowledged that he does not support all of Obama's policies, however he finds himself aligned with more of his than any other person.
"When I put them on a scale, it tips toward President Obama," he said.
Donnell urged people to vote in November on the issues, not by party line.
Symington also voted for Obama four years ago.
"I believe that President Obama is a person who cares about the people," she said. "I think he cares about health care, I think he cares about our lives."
As a former teacher and social worker, education is also a key issue.
"He understand the importance of education in terms of bettering our country," she said. "He's trying to keep us up with the rest of the world."
Symington added that Obama's focus is in the right place for jobs.
"I see him directing his focus toward things that are good for all," she said.
There are two local planning events coming up for anyone interested in volunteering for Obama For America. One event for the south Cape is set for Sept. 5, and one for the north Cape and North Fort Myers is set Aug. 28.
"These events are where we are going to take and draw in more people," Symington said.
To sign up for a planning event or to volunteer, contact Symington at (860) 808-9601 or Katie Robbins, the south Cape field organizer, at 464-4508. You can also contact Mike Brenner, who covers north Lee County, at 671-1292.
The office has no set hours now. It is usually open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.