Once a week, every single week, for more than eight years, a group of ordinary Ohio women have met for coffee to talk about Hillary Clinton.
They call them “Hillary’s coffees,” because their conversations may touch on families, vacations, new jobs, weddings and funerals, but their common bond is Clinton.
The women, who range from 65 to 89, met at a Wyoming phone bank while working for Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.
“When she lost in 2008, we grieved, “said Michele Mueller, of Harrison. “There were moments when we wondered if she would run again.”
After Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, the disappointed women promised not to lose touch with each other, or their dream of Clinton someday winning the White House.
That was 424 weekly coffees ago.
And there are exactly 10 weekly coffees remaining until Election Day, when they hope Clinton will finally become president.
“I didn’t think I would ever have another chance to see a woman president in my lifetime,” said Ena Wilson, who was 81 when Clinton dropped her first bid in 2008.
“I’m just thrilled to have a second chance at it,” said Wilson, who is now 89.
As unlikely as it sounds, these six women have met once a week at College Hill Coffee Company and Casual Gourmet since 2008. They reflect about the many Clinton speeches they have attended over the years, and how she now recognizes them at a crowded rally or waiting on the rope lines outside of a fundraiser.
Their commitment to her is nothing short of extraordinary.
“My husband says there is a fine line between supporting a candidate and stalking a candidate. We’re right on that line,” Mueller said, chuckling.
After years in the volunteer trenches, these women are now campaign leaders in their neighborhoods. They are the ones who find volunteers and then train them how to effectively knock on doors and phone bank for Clinton.
If an elderly neighbor can’t drive, then Florence McGraw, 85, of Sharonville, will bring them a campaign sign and even pound it into their yard with the hammer and screwdriver she keeps in the trunk of her SUV.
She plans to drop off stamped absentee ballots to neighbors who need them.
Others in the group will throw debate watch parties for their neighbors and get-out-to-vote rallies in their garages. Some frequently host out-of-town Clinton campaign staffers, and even loan them their cars.
“We just have to stay focused and get the job done,” Mueller said. “It’s one vote at a time.”
During a coffee meeting last week at their usual table by the window, the women worried aloud about the impact Republican nominee Donald Trump could have on their grandchildren, if elected president.
“If Trump is elected, how will their lives be,” said Joyce Shrimplin, of Lebanon. “A generation will now see Trump as the standard for behavior.”
So they all make a point to discuss politics with their grandchildren, and Francie Pepper, of Wyoming, made sure all nine of her grandchildren had Clinton campaign buttons.
Christine Zevron, of White Oak, missed all of her five grandchildren’s sporting events in August because she is devoting her weekends and after-work time to the Clinton campaign.
The group is so optimistic that a few weeks ago many made hotel reservations for the inauguration. They don’t want to miss what they have waited eight years, and in theory, their whole lives for.
“It’s been such a long time that we have been fighting for women’s issues. It seems we take two steps forward and then one back,” said Wilson, who was born in 1927. “It just seems as if we never make the final step…. This would be the last crack in the glass ceiling.”