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.

The Heart of Leadership (A Book Giveaway)

cropped HOL

Three weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Mark Miller’s new book, The Heart of Leadership (you can read the post here). I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but the book follows a young man named Blake through his own process of figuring out what makes a leader. He discovers five traits that represent the “HEART” of leadership:

H   –   Hunger for Wisdom

E   –   Expect the Best

A   –   Accept Responsibility

R   –   Respond with Courage

T   –   Think Others First

I have encountered three things that especially highlight the heart of leadership over the weeks since I wrote the original post.

For “A” (Accept Responsibility), there is a phrase I heard in the heat of a tense conference call that demonstrated why quiet and measured can be as effective a leadership technique as loud and aggressive. The context doesn’t matter so much — just picture clients unhappy with vendors and very worried about goals that had not been met and the very real possibility of children being adversely affected. When one party wanted “pants on fire panic,” the other party responded, “If we panic, we probably won’t solve it as efficiently.” For 19 years, I have been the client and not the vendor, which is almost certainly “easier.” I respect a vendor who had the discipline to not sound defensive, but to sound responsible.

For “R” (Respond With Courage), I read a concession message by Noam Branson, a candidate for political office, that really vibrated with courage and selflessness. The closing paragraph states, “And if I can leave you with just one request, it is not let the disappointment of a single evening discourage you from remaining engaged. For all the superficiality and theatrics of politics, there is also at its heart a majesty that is worth fighting for. Our values do not rise and fall on one victory or one defeat, they endure and take new form in every season and every debate. And the cause for which every one of us worked will be just as important tomorrow as it is today.” (Read the full statement here.)

For “T” (Think Others First), I would like to share the efforts of a young man here in town named Garrett. He and his mom Robin are working together to make a difference this Thanksgiving with “28 days of Thankfulness.” They are collecting items for Second Harvest of the Big Bend as well as for a local nursing home.  For Second Harvest, any non perishable food would be appreciated but canned fish and meats are especially good for the protein as well as whole grains (white/brown rice, steel cut or rolled oats, and whole grain pastas). For the nursing home, Robin (who is familiar with this population) recommends light blankets, socks, puzzles (can be used), sweatpants,  costume jewelry (like from Country Dollar), and stuffed animals. Please contact me and I will either get items from you or provide you the information regarding how to deliver them directly to Garrett. (Donations have been lagging a bit and we really want him to see that people will step up!) Kudos to Garrett for, as a young person, “thinking others first.”

Garrett  Bag

This Bag Is Ready For Donations!

As you can see, I didn’t list an “H” thing or an “E” thing. Would love to see your contributions in the comments regarding ways you have seen the heart of leadership exemplified.

For every comment I receive, I will enter you to receive a copy of The Heart of Leadership. It’s a great read! I will choose the winner next Sunday (11/17/13) at 10 a.m. EST. 

*I received a complimentary copy of the book The Heart of Leadership for the purpose of this giveaway.

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