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A core part of Clean Water Action’s strategy is “strength in numbers.” The belief that if we get enough people involved in our campaigns and the movement for change, we will win.

One important way that we build that strength is through door to door organizing, or canvassing. Canvassing is the pillar that Clean Water Action was built on in the early 1970s as our founder, David Zwick, and a team of dedicated activists knocked on doors in support of the Clean Water Act.

We continue that tactic today as our canvassing teams go out into communities every night, year-round, to recruit new members, gather handwritten letters from constituents to elected officials, get donations and talk to voters about pro-environment candidates when there is an election coming up. These teams of intrepid organizers brave rain, snow, heat and cold to build lasting relationships in communities and build that strength in numbers. 

Every year we honor one of these hard-working members of our team with the annual John O’Connor Award for Canvassing. John O’Connor was a much beloved activist in the Massachusetts environmental community who died in 2001. John founded, led and supported many environmental health organizations and campaigns, and is remembered for his unique spirit, his love of organizing and his deep appreciation for the canvassers who work to build community power one person at a time.

On October 19th, at our 25th annual Fall Benefit, Clean Water Action will present the 2019 John O’Connor Award for Canvassing to Sarah Gokey, a Field Manager in our Northampton Field Canvass.

Sarah has been on staff at Clean Water for 11 months and has been a Field Manager for 5 months – leading her peers into communities to organize on the issues Clean Water works on each night. She has shown excellence in all aspects of canvassing - from fundraising, to signing up members, to gathering letters - and does a great job organizing, even when she spends part of her time in the field training new staff members. She leads by example, and is articulate and well-spoken whether she’s giving briefings to the Northampton office team, talking to members, or speaking with political aides while delivering letters from our members. She has proven her ability to excel in a variety of settings, and contributed strong leadership to the New England team, including spending a month on a “cross-train” helping out in our Providence office. Sarah is incredibly reliable, humble, and even keeled - three traits that make for a great canvass leader.

We hope you will join us in honoring Sarah at our upcoming Fall Celebration on October 19th - to learn more and RSVP click here.