Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

HOW SOON IS NOW?

When I was running recently, the lyrics to one of the songs on my Playlist were “How Soon is Now?”

Since I became a Shot at Life Champion in 2013, and a Champion Leader in late 2014, I have learned a lot about vaccine-preventable diseases and the potentially fatal barriers children face in many countries. I have met incredible people, and seen I have seen government “at work.”

If it were up to me, I would take a plane across the world and personally administer a child in Nigeria, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, the three countries where polio still exists, a life-saving vaccine. I would put together the $20 worth of vaccines that will give lifetime immunity from measles, polio, pneumonia, and diarrhea to the children who are currently dying every 20 seconds from those diseases and just do it.

The problem: simply vaccinating children is not simple.

Simply vaccinating children takes the intricately coordinated efforts of people in the affected countries, manufacturers who make the vaccines, vehicles who transport the vaccines, copious amounts of funding, and an alphabet soup of accounts and programs including UNICEF, GAVI, CDC, and USAID. “Simply” vaccinating children a world away takes the involvement of us here in the United States. Although there are many reasons, three of the main ones are:

  • the existence of these diseases anywhere is a threat to children everywhere (as we have seen with recent US-based measles outbreaks)
  • prevention is infinitely more cost effective than treatment
  • it is the right thing to do.

As a Champion and Champion Leader, I have had many great experiences in two short years:

Two Shot at Life Summits in Washington DC

Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

With fellow champions Nicolette Springer and Sili Recio in March 2014

Meetings in the Washington, DC, offices of my Senators and Representatives

Meetings in the Tallahasssee, FL offices of my Senators and Representatives

In-Depth training on vaccine-preventable diseases, advocacy methods, and communication strategy

Meeting Jo Frost of Supernanny fame

Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

Meeting other Shot at Life Champions who are hands down among the most committed, intelligent, creative, funny people on the planet

Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

Publication of two Op-Eds, including this one, and a Letter to the Editor in the Tallahassee Democrat

An appearance on WTXL to discuss World Immunization Week 2014 (tune in again on Monday, April 27, between 6 am and 7 am for this year’s appearance!)

In the midst of all these opportunities, I can grow frustrated though. It is easy for doubt to seep in:

  • How will this lovely hotel luncheon/fancy hors d’ouerves event/[insert very first-world goodie or experience here] make a difference?
  • How will that e-mail, letter, phone call, or tweet I sent to my legislator matter?
  • How can I, “just a mom,” do anything for that child in Pakistan?

I recently read A Simple Idea With Huge Potential by Mark Miller, and his post helped me channel those worries in a different, more productive way. Mark described a plan to accelerate his team’s performance by “assigning a champion to each large body of work.” Among the attributes expected of his “champions” was this:

Ensure the work gets done. 

I may not be able to travel to Pakistan to vaccinate a child personally, but I can develop the expertise to make sure our government supports the President’s budget fully so that funding and support for critical global health and global vaccine programs is sustained.

I can inform, advocate, and fundraise for the cause of global vaccination.

I can recruit fellow committed, intelligent, creative, funny people to join me. Heck, you don’t even have to be funny!

We are holding a Champion Training this Wednesday night, April 29, from 8-9:30 p.m.. Please join us, even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to being a champion. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn more! Click this link to sign up and get on the distribution list for the April 29 call.

I may not be able to completely fix the problem now, but I can commit to being a champion for ensuring the work gets done.

WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME?

Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

Shot@Life–UN Foundation, Mozambique, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 (Photo/Stuart Ramson)

I am joining my fellow Shot at Life Champions in Advocate 2 Vaccinate, a coast-to-coast challenge for global vaccination that coincides with World Immunization Week (April 24-30). I am pleased to be joining several of them in a blog relay. Here’s the lineup:

Friday, April 24: Jennifer DeFranco with Let the Relay Begin…S@L, A2V, and Me! 

Friday, April 24: Nicole Morgan with Want to be a Super Hero?

Saturday, April 25: Nicolette Springer with Advocate to Vaccinate: You Can Be a Champion! 

April 26 – Pam Brown Margolis with It’s World Immunization Week! Let’s Keep My Little Readers Healthy #vaccineswork #WIW15 and ME!

April 27 – Cindy Levin with Many Actions Save Many Lives

April 29 – Ilina Ewen with Advocate2Vaccinate During World Immunization Week

April 30 – Andrea Bates with Advocate2Vaccinate: World Immunization Week

Felisa Hilbert also wrote about her champion experience in The Power of One.

Making a Difference: How Soon is Now?

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

“Pronouns Matter” and Other Favorite Quotes

Since I was undecided regarding what to blog about today, I checked my “drafts” folder and decided to tackle one of the 23 “posts-to-be” that had never seen the light of day. The oldest one is the list of Mama Kat prompts for the week of April 11, 2013. One of the prompts is “list 6 of your favorite quotes.” Seems like a timeless one to me, so here goes.

 Six Favorite Quotes

Pronouns Matter. ~ Me

I have been a user of the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, signifying my strong belief that the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls should be returned immediately to their families. What I am having trouble reconciling, though, is the thought in my head that if the reaction (of some) to the current influx of Central American children across our borders were to have its own hashtag, it would be #sendbacktheirgirls. I know these are two very different situations. Each one is complex and presents components that are extremely difficult for outside governments to intervene in. As I said in Cindy Levin’s post:

“Although I like the hashtag #bringbackourgirls (and use it daily), I have to honestly ask if we would consider these girls “our” girls when it was the basic matter of helping them get access to education (and health care, and parity, among other things) were it not for this crisis? We can all do better, not just when there is an immediate crisis but when there is a long term smoldering one as well. And for every girl, everywhere.” 

It seems that with these Central American children we have found ourselves dealing with the effects of a long term smoldering crisis. I suspect part of the difference is that the Nigerian girls are an ocean away and the Central American girls (and boys…) are on our territory. I just don’t understand how the Nigerian girls can be “ours” while the Central American girls are “theirs.”

2014-07-02 09.44.19

A day I ran for “Saraya,” one of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus

So many inspiring quotes flow through my social media stream every day. Many of them give me a momentary spark of “yeah!” “so true!” “you only get one shot!” I have struggled, however, with the truth of those sentiments in the face of the reality of my obligations and choices I made decades ago which made it harder to truly “follow my bliss.” I guess the part of this that sticks the most is “say to yourself what you would be.” Without clarity about the eventual goal (what you would be), it’s possible you’ll waste a lot of time along the way expending your energies for things that don’t matter.

Only 3% of people have written goals; the other 97% work for them (paraphrase) ~ Brian Tracy

Hmm…. the value of including this favorite quote was being honest with myself about the fact that I have not listed my goals for this year. Problem solved. The “sub 30 5K” goal is a perennial. I am not giving up.

2014 goals

2014 Goals

The map is not the territory. ~ Alfred Korzybski

I love this one, and it is in the same family of concepts (to me) as the Epictetus quote. This quote seemed relevant to my work as an administrator at a program subject to many different agency rule sets, some state, some federal. You may have a single-spaced 40-page technical guidance document holding you to what font size to use, what match rate to apply, what literacy level to write your materials to, but are you doing the task you set out to do? (which in our case was insuring uninsured children). It also applies in a more broad context to life; are we so busy ticking off mile markers that we don’t realize that the town we originally set out to visit is now deserted?

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. ~ Rumi

A wise therapist gave me an assignment once to “check out whatever instantly appeals to you at the library and go away for a weekend and immerse yourself.” The only books I remember checking out were a childbirth book and a family relationships book. I wonder what I would check out on a similar assignment now, decades later. I know I love social media, and I know people I trust in the industry have advised me not to do it for a living. The appeal of social media (and the beauty of it) is the ability to write and communicate visually, along with “connecting the dots” of people who would not otherwise come into each others’ lives.

“Every problem has a solution.”

This quote is from the movie Philadelphia. Besides the obvious truth of the quote (even though solutions often seem elusive), the movie holds special meaning for me. Wayne and I saw it shortly after his sister Ann died, and it seemed to tap into some deep emotional crevasse that had already been pried open.

Ultimately, “every problem has a solution” ties into my #1 (“pronouns matter”). Some problems in our world seem to only have solutions riddle with imperfections that take those solutions out of contention. I think, however, we must not give up trying, for “our” girls, “their” girls …. for all girls.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.