After being away at graduate school for several years, I returned to my hometown of Dayton, Ohio in 1981 as VISTA volunteer assigned to the Ohio Council of Senior Citizens. I worked as an organizer with a variety of affiliated senior citizen and retiree clubs to help them get directly involved in public policy issues they were concerned about at the time.
In 1981, this was mainly skyrocketing electric utility rates as well as federal budget cuts aimed at Social Security and Medicare. My service impacted my career because I was just beginning to believe that I wanted to continue developing skills that would be useful to becoming active in politics. I met many wise and active citizens who encouraged and taught me practical lessons about politics and about my country.
Two years after my VISTA service, I was elected to the first of three terms I served as a Dayton City Commissioner.