You're never going to change anything if you never go in and talk to the people..Eli Wilkerson
SPRINGFIELD — Eli Wilkerson is extremely dedicated to the cause of getting Democrats elected in Georgia. "I don't sleep anymore, so people can call me anytime," he joked after being asked how citizens can obtain information about participating in his get-out-the-vote efforts in Effingham County. Wilkerson, a 24-year-old Democratic Party of Georgia worker, addressed the Effingham County Democratic Committee and interested citizens at the Effingham Health System Education Center on Thursday. He is building phone banks and door-to-door canvassing teams to reach voters starting this week. "If anybody would like to talk to me, I'd love to talk their ear off," Wilkerson said. "I've got kind of a big mouth." Wilkerson also has a big job. He is well aware that Effingham County, his longtime home, is a Republican stronghold. He has a strategy that he believes will make a difference, however. "I lived in Effingham County for twenty years — that's not something that I'm going to keep hammering — but I've spoken to just about every person in Guyton," he said. "Of course, we have ideological clashes because I think very differently than them — but I got reached." Wilkerson was reached while living in the depths of despair. "Not to go too deeply into my story, but I spent the better part of six months homeless a couple of years ago," he said. "By doing so, it really woke me up to the fact that I really can't change anything if I don't get up and do something. If I say I am going to do something, I get up and do it. "That's kind of the motto that I live by." Wilkerson has drawn comfort from knowing that he isn't a lone voice in a Democrat wilderness. About two dozen people attended Thursday's meeting. Usually, only a half dozen or so show up. Wilkerson enjoys discussing the Democrats' platform, including the expansion of the HOPE Scholarship program, accessible health care for everyone, the protection of human rights and efficient use of natural resources. "You're never going to change anything if you never go in and talk to the people," he said. "If you just write off Guyton as a place that will never get Democrat votes, then you never will get Democrat votes. If you go in there and engage with the people, you can change hearts and minds." See the Aug. 22 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.