What do a holiday tree lighting expert, a man from Lewiston and a friend in New Orleans all have in common?  They all took time out within the last few weeks to personally say "thank you" for the work we do here at the ACLU of Maine - on issues as diverse as voter protection, marriage equality, and medical marijuana.  And I have to say - it feels great.  We always know there are real people at the other end of our advocacy - it's truly what keeps us going.  We keep them in the forefront of our minds, telling and re-telling their stories as we speak to lawmakers, the press and the public, but it's all too rare that we get to hear from them directly after the fight is over.  So I was totally surprised to have three such conversations in a short time. 

The first, at about 9:15 on election night, I received this adorable photo from a dear friend, Emily Posner, in New Orleans along with five brief words - "Can I get married yet?"    
She and her partner weren't willing to move to Maine unless and until Maine passed marriage for same sex couples.  Later - that night, after we had joyfully confirmed the win for marriage equality, Emily told me she is now making plans to return home to our great state.  If that weren't reward enough, she finished with, "thank you, thank you, thank you!". 

The next day, a message got passed along from a Lewiston Somali man.  He mentioned the voter protection work we were doing at the polls on behalf of eligible voters.  He had heard about the incident in Auburn where I stepped in to protect the rights of two Somali women who came to vote with an interpreter - and was calling simply to say "thank you".

Last but not least, I was on the phone yesterday arranging for tree decorating for my parents when the electrician surprised me by saying - "hey, I hope this isn't weird, but I think I know who you are.  Aren't you the one who wrote the medical marijuana bill?"  He proceeded to tell me that his brother has Crohn's disease, and if it weren't for marijuana, he literally wouldn't be able to eat.  He finished the conversation again saying, "I hope it's not too weird that I brought it up, but I just wanted to say thank you.  It means more than you know."

And in the spirit of the season - I say back - to all of them - thank you for taking the time.  Hearing these stories and knowing we made a difference in peoples lives is tremendous reward.