A week ago, 28-year-old Erika Dungee (pictured second from left) decided to respond to Beyonce Knowle‘s (pictured far right) e-mail, asking President Barack Obama (pictured center) supporters to donate to his campaign for a chance to win a dinner with the President, her husband Jay-Z (pictured far left), and herself at the 40/40 Club in New York. Dungee could never have imagined that the Obama campaign would call her just an evening later and announce that she was indeed the winner.
Flying from Pennsylvania to New York, Dungee, a kindergarten schoolteacher, and her husband, Bill, a school administrator (pictured second from right), embarked on a night they would never forget. NewsOne spoke exclusively with the young parents of a 2-year-old and 5-month-old to find out why President Obama being re-elected is a priority for them, what were their impressions of the commander-in-chief, what type of hosts did Bey and Jay make, and what indelible moments will they share with their children and grandchildren for years to come.
NewsOne: How did you know about the contest?
Erika Dungee: Well, I got an e-mail saying that if you donated to the President’s campaign, that you’d be entered to win, you’d get the option to meet the President, so I thought that would be really awesome.
NewsOne: How did they contact you when you won?
ED: They contacted me on Friday by phone at like 5:30 p.m. They just said, “Congratulations, you won the contest.” I was just completely floored, because it was just a day between the entering and a day between me winning so it was really fast.
NewsOne: How did you prepare for the event?
ED: We didn’t have time; everything was rushed. [They alerted me that I had won] on Friday, and we flew out on Tuesday. We had to decide on something presentable cause we were meeting the President, Beyonce, and Jay-Z. And I just looked everywhere to learn a few things about his education policies, so I would be prepared for our “Access Hollywood” interview.
NewsOne: But you guys definitely went shopping?
ED: Yes, we had to find something presentable for the event.
NewsOne: Once you got to the event, what did you discuss?
ED: We definitely talked about teaching, and my husband is the business manager for the school district that I work at. We definitely talked about education because if it wasn’t for federal funds, our school would basically be closed. We definitely let them know that we, public schools, need to get that financial support from the government. Because if not, a lot of us would be shut down.
NewsOne: How did the President respond when you told him who you are and your position in the school system?
ED: He was really responsive. He told us he had our back and that he knows we’re in the trenches and just hang in there. They’re doing everything they can to restore some of the funds to public schools.
Bill Dungee: With the federal funding, I mentioned to him that one-fifth of our budget here in the school districts is federal funding, and he said he was going to try his best to get more funding out to public schools because our governor has really cut our state funding. We’re an economically depressed area, so our tax base isn’t great at all. We depend heavily on federal funding.
ED: Since one-fifth of our budget is federal funding, we operate on about $15 million and we receive approximately $3 million in federal funding.
NewsOne: What is the impression you got from the President?
ED: With the President, it was just his voice; he was so warm and welcoming, and that was the first thing I felt from him.