A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

May 18, 2008

Brianna Meets Bill and Chelsea Clinton

It almost sounds unbelievable, but yes that's true.  Today Brianna met Bill and Chelsea Clinton - they joined her in some gardening and painting at a local elementary school.

To step back one, Brianna is involved in a program called "I Have a Dream" at her school.  It's a really great program aimed at getting kids to graduate from high school and continue on to college. They started a new class with all third graders in the school Brianna goes to and she's been attending all year.  They offer after-school programs, field trips, and general support and mentoring.

Jen and I went hiking at Ponytail Falls yesterday in the gorge and were on the way back home when we received a call from one of the people that runs the program at Brianna's school.  She said that President Clinton and Chelsea were going to be at a "Dreamer" event today and that Jen, Brianna and I could be invited if we liked.  Of course, this being a once in a lifetime opportunity we jumped at the chance.  It was kind of weird timing because just the day before Jen and I had come into possession of Bill Clinton's autobiography "My Life".

We got to the event at about 9:15 this morning at the community garden at Woodlawn Elementary.  About an hour and a half later, the event got underway.  There was a speaker from America Forward, which is a larger service organization that "I Have a Dream" belongs to.  After that, one of the sponsors from Dreamers spoke, and then Chelsea and Bill Clinton both gave a short speech.

Bill did some gardening and Chelsea helped with the painting of a sign before they switched places.  Brianna said she asked Chelsea where her mom was (Kentucky) and whether she would be able to live in the White House if her mom wins (no - she's on her own).  Brianna asked Bill Clinton why he was visiting Dreamers, to which he replied that he's been a supporter for a long time. 

After they were done Bill came over to the fence where we were with the rest of the parents and various onlookers and Jen and I both shook his hand.  It is amazing how much people love to share with him and it's obvious that he genuinely loves talking to and interacting with people.  He shared words with many folks and was very generous in taking pictures with people (especially kids and babies).  They say that people like that have a presence and that's definitely true in Bill Clinton's case.

Chelsea came off as a little bit more overwhelmed but was also extremely gracious and kind.  She was also generous, taking pictures with many folks and again with some kids. 

Oregon has a mail-in  ballot, and I had already voted for Obama but for me it was just so incredible to have a chance to meet a former president, especially one I look up to and respect so much.  I was quite impressed with Chelsea, she is very well-spoken and knowledgeable.  I wouldn't be surprised if she ran for office one day soon as well.