President Obama meets with letter writers on July 29, 2014

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Source:  The New York Times reporter
President Obama, sans his jacket, walked into Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque at 7:52 p.m. Central. He started unbuttoning his cuffs just before walking in.
Pool is holding outside. In the meantime, here’s some background from the White House about what’s happening:

Tonight, the President is having dinner with four Kansas City residents who have written letters to him about their personal stories of working hard to get ahead in America – both their successes and their struggles. These letters remind the President and his staff who we are working for and underscore the importance of his agenda for using all of the tools at his disposal to continue to expand opportunity for all Americans. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, a Kansas City native, called each of these letter writers to invite them to dinner with the President this evening.

Victor Fugate
In January of 2012, Victor sent you a letter to thank you for the student loan help he received from the Income Based Repayment Plan. Currently, Victor works for the Missouri Department of Mental Health and sees firsthand how the ACA is impacting people’s lives. He has also personally benefited from the ACA, using an exchange to get health care when we was laid off from his job as a financial counselor. Victory is married and has a four year old daughter.

Valerie McCaw
Last week, Valerie sent you an email to voice her frustration about how hard it is to make a living. As a single mom and a small business owner, she works seven days a week and still struggles to pay her bills. Valerie is a small business owner and engineer. She started her firm, VSM Engineering, 11 years ago and has four part-time employees. Her son is in college out of state and his tuition is almost 40,000 a year.

Mark Turner
In June, Mark wrote to you about teaching a GED program and trying to make a difference in the lives of young people. Mark works for the Full Employment Council, a non-profit that helps those who are unemployed and under employed. The Full Employment Council, along with the city of Kansas City, recently received a $1 million grant from DOL to fund Face Forward KC an initiative to provide educational services, job training and placement services, mentoring services, and legal assistance to juvenile offenders and at-risk youth. Mark has married for 34 years and has two children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Since he wrote the letter he has taken on an additional role of teaching a GED program named Project Rise. He is still employed by the Full Employment Council but wanted to highlight this additional role.

Becky Forrest
In August of 2013, Becky wrote to you about the work that was being done through her neighborhood association. Becky has been the President of the Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association for 11 years and said she has learned so much in this role. She said that she wanted you to know that people in her community were working hard to improve their neighborhood and positively impact the lives of those around them.



At Arthur Bryant’s, a popular BBQ joint, as the president ordered at the back of the restaurant, looking up at the menu on a large placard as he asked for a half slab, a bottle of water, and a Bud Light — pooler got visual confirmation on the water but not the beer.

Mr. Obama also ordered coleslaw, only to be told they don’t have any.

“You’ve got to have some coleslaw around here, don’t you?” he said. “You’re out of it? You didn’t save any for me?”
“Come on, man, I thought you were going to hook me up,” he added, as the workers grinned.
At the cash register, he pulled out a wallet and some cash, with a $50 bill visible on top.
“I want to pay for everybody,” he told the woman at the register, likely referring to the guests who wrote him letters.
After ordering, he headed into another room with black-and-white photos of baseball players lining the walls, where he greeted smiling diners (and the pool tried not to fall into anyone’s laps in the slightly cramped quarters).
A fast-pitch softball team of 16-year-old girls called the Titans (hometown of Glenview, Illinois) sat in spots throughout the restaurant, finishing up their meals in navy blue uniforms. The president learned they are playing in the “World Series” (which is reportedly taking place in Independence, Missouri), and said he would cheer for them.
A woman with blonde hair and glasses rose to shake his hand from another table.
“He’s so handsome, oh my God!” she exclaimed.
“I’m paying for her food,” he said after hugging her.
“You’re so handsome,” she continued. “The First Lady is so lucky.”
She became choked up as she shook his hand a final time, and he continued, sitting down with the four letter-writers — see details in the last pool report — around a table in the corner by the front window with, at that point, only large cups set out. They began to talk, and the pool was ushered out.
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