Students focus aid locally

Elliot Griffin continues to serve an organization she interned with to give back to the city.

Elliot Griffin continues to serve an organization she interned with to give back to the city.

Though conservatives rejoiced after the special Massachusetts election in January, Elliot Griffin said she’s confident that the healthcare bill will still pass. Griffin, the communications director of Temple College Democrats, has made it her full-time job to get others to consider the issue.

“You would be surprised how many [students] are unaware that once they graduate, they’re taken off of their parents’ coverage,” the sophomore journalism major said. “This is a topic that they should be concerned about because it will affect them sooner than they can imagine.”

Because of Republican Scott Brown’s victory in January, the GOP can now create a partisan filibuster to block any bills in the Senate. But liberals at Temple said they are not worried, since the health care bill passed the Senate in December.

The club sets up a table in the Student Center every other week to help promote its ideas. Although the group addresses multiple issues, Griffin said they always carry pamphlets about a story of someone who was left uninsured.

“I try to put myself in other people’s shoes,” she said. “It was hard to read any of those stories without crying.”

Griffin has been active on the issue since she was a summer intern for Organize for America, an Obama campaign group, where she worked 40 to 50 hours per week. She spent most of her time making phone calls to persuade others to demand reform from their representatives, as well as passing out fliers in front of shopping centers.

According to its Web site, OFA is a grassroots movement to help communities around the country with volunteer work while also helping to further the president’s agenda. The group changed its name from Obama for America after the president was inaugurated.

During her internship, Griffin helped organize goods at a food drives and lended a hand at sponsored blood drives.

During winter break, Griffin went back to OFA to help with City Year’s Martin Luther King Day project, when the youth volunteer group revamped a high school cafeteria in North Philadelphia. She painted motivational words on columns, while others repainted walls.

Griffin, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said she has been a 76ers fan since Allen Iverson was first drafted in the mid-1990s. From then on, her father would occasionally bring her to Philadelphia to see a few home games. Enrolling at Temple seemed natural, she said.

“My mind was pretty much made up,” she added.

But not all Griffin’s time in Philadelphia is spent promoting healthcare reform. She also volunteered as a Big Sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Temple program since the Fall, mentoring her assigned child for about an hour a week.

Temple’s Big Brothers Big Sisters student board started a year and a half ago to give students with conflicting schedules a chance to help. Most volunteers spend a whole day with their little brothers or sisters, while their college counter-parts only need to give an hour.

“All of our members have been really helpful,” Student Director Vanessa Smith, a sophomore political science major, said. “We would have never made it this far if it wasn’t for our volunteers.”

Griffin said her “little sister” wants to go to law school when she grows up, so the two usually end up talking about politics and civic duty. Dedicating her time to someone else was important she said, as she grew up with older siblings who did the same.

“Philadelphia has offered so many opportunities to me,” Griffin said. “I wanted to be able to give back.”

Ian Romano can be reached at


  1. re maryrose: Affordable heath care is a relative term. After college, students entering the working world must meet resposiblities on entry level salaries; challenging while paying back student loans; health care is often an expendable consideration for seemingly healthy young people until necessity dictates. Keep working hard Elliot, we need you!

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