WARREN - Margaret Elaine Price has not had a lot to smile about in recent months.
On April 28, the woman lost her husband, Minister Grady E. Price, to respiratory failure.
Then, three weeks ago Price received a letter that put a smile back on her face that she expects to remain well past the Christmas holidays.
Photo by Raymond L. Smith
Margaret Elaine Price displays the White House invitation to Tuesday's holiday party.
Price, 62, is among several hundred guests invited to attend a holiday reception Tuesday at the White House.
"When I received the invitation in the mail I thought it was a post card," she said. "My husband and I received those in the past. I set it aside to open later."
Later that night, when she finally got around to opening the letter, Price had to read it twice before realizing what she had in her hand.
"It was an invitation to a White House reception," she said.
Price jumped up and down in the center of her living room like a teenager at the thought of going to the White House and personally meeting President Barack Obama.
"I'm so excited," she said.
She does not know who nominated her for the honor, but thinks the invitation came because of her activities in helping Obama's 2008 election campaign and subsequent community work. The invitation is for her community leadership.
In 2007, when then-Sen. Obama was seeking the Democratic Party nomination, Grady Price, then an associate minister at Trinity Church, heard an Obama speech and became intrigued by the young candidate. The more he heard and read about him, the more intrigued he became.
"Although we were people who voted in every election ... to be honest, we were not politically active," Price said. "But there was something about Obama that my husband reacted positively to. When he spoke at the Covelli Centre, we went to see him.''
''There were not many men that impressed my husband - other than Jesus Christ - but he was impressed by Obama," Price said.
It was then that the Prices realized they could no longer sit on the sidelines.
The couple, along with Twila Freeman started Trumbull 4 Barack 4 Change, which started out with six members, expanding to more than 150 through the course of the campaign.
"We never worked on a campaign before, so we mostly followed our instincts about what to do," she said. "We registered more than 2,000 new voters in Trumbull County in a two month period. We did a lot of door-to-door campaigning in sometimes very cold, wet weather."
Freeman says once they started Trumbull 4 Barack 4 Change it was not hard to attract others to to the cause.
"A lot of people, like myself, never thought we would see an African-American elected president, so when people realized he was a viable candidate, they were eager to become involved," she said.
After Obama was elected, many members of the group realized there still was a lot of work to do on a local level, so they changed its name to Trumbull for Positive Change.
"We are working on those things that will be positive for the areas, including improving the schools and the recent mayoral election in Warren," she said. "We feel that it is important for people to become educated voters."
Earlier this year, prior to her husband's death, Price received a call from someone in the Obama administration .
"I thought they were calling about the upcoming campaign," she said. "But they did not mention the campaign. They were asking how my husband was doing and expressed concern that I should not allow my own health to suffer.
"I was touched," she said.
Price already is gearing up for the 2012 election campaign.
"There are some people who have been disappointed with the president's record, but they have to realize he can't do it alone," she said. "He must receive help from members of the House and the Senate to get things done."
Price's only disappointment right now is that her husband is not here with her.
"My husband was looking forward to this campaign," she said. "He would have loved the idea of going to the White House and talking to the president."