Melinda Richardson held a Shot@Life happy hour in New York past April.
How did you first get involved with the Shot@Life campaign?
I first got involved through volunteering with the UN Association and realized that the two went hand in hand to raise awareness and have a direct impact on the development space.
Tell me how the Shot@Life happy hour in New York went.
We held a fantastic event on April 6th at Pranna on Madison Ave. in New York City. Over 50 young professionals were in attendance and we shared more information about the Shot@Life campaign and how everyone can get involved. In addition, as this was the start to Advocate2Vaccinate, we discussed congressional meetings in district that we are working on now.
I saw that you do a lot of fundraising. What kind of fundraising do you do and how do you manage its effectiveness?
Fundraising can seem like a daunting task, but when it’s for a cause you truly believe in that is having a demonstrable impact people will come together. Shot@Life contributes 100% of what is raised to the cause – this is something important to share! Not everything has to be a big fancy gala (while fun it can also become a full-time job!). In fact, many bars, restaurants, and other venues will donate a portion of proceeds on certain nights and will offer their space – especially on “off-nights” like Mondays or Tuesdays. With young professionals, I have found that they want to connect and learn and a happy hour is definitely a way to do this along with raising funds. Ultimately, it’s about connecting people and showing that they can have a direct impact.
What does fundraising for Shot@Life mean to you? What did you learn?
It means we are able to help even more children. Sometimes it’s easy to think – there should be a doctor or a nonprofit or someone else doing things – when in fact we each have something we can contribute. Whether it is through social media, a financial contribution, advocacy, or learning and sharing – all of those things collectively make a big difference. I was fortunate to be able to join the Shot@Life team and other champions on a learning trip to the Philippines last year and it is remarkable to see the progress that is being made. It seems that only bad things make the news but here is an example of how international aid and support has come together to help make people’s lives better and to give everyone a chance. This was so powerful to see firsthand and to know that every dollar counts and that because of what we do, children are living healthier lives and getting a chance.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment with the campaign?
I think raising awareness here in New York City has been big, since we have the UN here and so many people working with nonprofits and interested in development – and before any of those interventions can have a real effect the very first thing every single person needs is their health. The Shot@Life campaign focuses on this first crucial step in development. That is making sure that children are healthy and free from disease, which should be a basic right of people and children everywhere.
What do you want people to know about being a Champion? What would you suggest as the best way to get involved in the campaign?
Anyone can get involved! All you need is to care about people and how we can help them. Being a champion means learning what you can do and having the support of a large group of passionate individuals who make things happen. From your community, to the congressional level, and to the UN and agencies working abroad, these are all tied together and ultimately made up of people we can all work together.
Watch Melinda Richardson’s trip to the Philippines in 2015.