Joanne Barr, 54, never wanted attention. She has only ever wanted a life without trouble, and for a long time, what she had in Williamsport, a mountainous town in Central Pennsylvania, was just that. She never thought there would be a time when people would know her story. But then again, she never thought Donald Trump would be president, and when that happened, everything changed.
Last month, Barr, a lifelong Republican, went to the Women’s March on Washington, allowed The Washington Post to accompany her and returned to Williamsport, where she found a mailbox that was soon filling with letters from all over the country and the world. “So much mail,” she said. “And for someone who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. It’s been overwhelming, but I didn’t realize there were so many wonderful, nice people.”
One day late last month, she went to the mailbox again and collected more letters, one of which bore a New York address. Thinking it was just another letter like the others, she absent-mindedly opened it. Then she saw the letterhead: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“While I know that we are disappointed and heartbroken by the outcome of the election, I am heartened to know that the experience of this campaign has been empowering for you,” the letter read. ” … Never forget that you are powerful and valuable and that one person can make a difference.”
Clinton has offered words of encouragement via Twitter to her supporters and on Monday recorded a surprise video for a conference focusing on women’s leadership, but otherwise has kept a fairly low profile since her November loss.
Barr took the letter into a hardware store she manages, framed the photo, and hung it in her house, “someplace where I can look at it every morning to give me the inspiration I need to keep on fighting for what I feel is right,” she said. It’s only one of many ways in which she says the election has emboldened her. She has joined the League of Women’s Voters, and, for the first time on Monday night, attended a meeting for the Lycoming County Progressives.