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Democratic youth organization forms amid pandemic regulations

Courtesy photo On Jan. 10, members of the Blair County Young Democrats organization met with PA Superior Court judge Carolyn Nichols, who spoke about her position as a candidate for the PA Supreme Court and shared her experience as a Black woman in the legal field.

While certain local clubs have been forced to pause their proceedings due to the pandemic, other organizations, like the newly formed Blair County Young Democrats, have been able to prosper despite ever-changing regulations to control the spread of COVID-19.

“We undertook a large task,” BCYD president Madi Fulchiero said. “To start any sort of organization — from as small as a local youth political club to as large as a business — would have been difficult in the first several months of the pandemic, but thanks to the passionate, dedicated members that we have been able to gather, the Blair County Young Democrats have been able to thrive as a club.”

The group, which was originally formed in 2016 after the presidential election, was revamped and restructured under new leadership in the fall of 2020.

The club members, who meet the requirement of being registered Democratic voters in Blair County ages 18-40, have a simple goal.

According to BCYD Secretary Helena Bassler, “As a club, we branch out into campaigning for local, state and national elections, fundraising, community service, social events and more. However, our main focus is to build a base of Democratic youth in Blair County who will grow into Democratic voters.”

Since their formation last year, the members of the club have been able to accomplish a variety of goals in a chiefly virtual manner.

The club’s vice president, Vanessa Gil, said, “I was definitely worried when we started the club. We were all very motivated to accomplish as much as we could, but with social distancing guidelines, it all seemed challenging. However, what we have done so far is way more than I would have ever imagined, and I am proud of everyone. Not only did members engage in virtual phone banking and limited in-person literature distribution for Biden’s campaign, but we have also raised almost $400 in an apparel fundraiser and have greatly grown our social media presence.”

The club’s executive board has claimed that a major key to their success has been using technology to their advantage. “Nearly all of our meetings have been via Zoom,” Treasurer Michael Schimminger said. “It’s good for two reasons: one, because we are able to uphold social distancing rules, and, two, many of the group members are college students who would be unable to attend in-person meetings even if there wasn’t a pandemic. We continue to strive to incorporate technology into our club. We do most of our communicating through a group chat in the Slack app and social media, and in the future, we even want to host a virtual game night.”

“We continue expanding as a club, and it’s so rewarding to see,” Local Communications Director Zoë Wilson said. “Even my position as the communications director on the executive board was just recently introduced, and we are always making new connections via social media. We always welcome new faces at our meetings, even if they do not meet the age requirements to be technical members (18-40). Our generation is a generation of extremely passionate, charismatic people, and we want to keep expanding as a club so that we can provide young people with a way to channel their energy into a path of political action.”

Any individuals interested in getting involved with the club can contact Fulchiero at 935-3217 or mmf244@cornell.edu.

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