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  • Dallas Klein, Free Minds Austin

Graduate Casts Her First Ballot

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

This election season, through the efforts of activists and volunteers, numerous Americans have voted for the first time. Our own Lauretta Calamito, 2020 graduate of Free Minds in Austin, has one such story.

In her 60s and a resident of Foundation Communities, the nonprofit that is home to Free Minds, Lauretta had reasons for not voting in the past. “I never thought a politician was worthy of my vote,” said Lauretta. “I never trusted them.” A native of Staten Island, NY, Lauretta felt discouraged by corruption and a lack of checks and balances in her home town.

This year was different for Lauretta. “I wanted to take an active part and be civic minded. I wanted to vote for things that can help others, especially students and the elderly,” she said. Lauretta recalls with pride the day that she cast her vote at the Austin Central Library--when she informed the volunteer poll-worker that she was a first time voter, the woman announced it, and the entire line broke out in applause. What an apt reminder to celebrate every voice in this country.

Lauretta spent much of her adult life as a caretaker for her aging parents, and she now devotes her time volunteering for those experiencing homelessness. With this background, Lauretta says she will continue voting with particular interest in local elections, where policies can more immediately impact those in her city and neighborhood.

“There are so many who would give their right arm to vote. I thought about all those people who can’t, and I’ve realized it really is a privilege,” said Lauretta.

We thank you, Lauretta, for reminding us of the power of our voices!

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