December 12, 2016 8:53 am

UPR-RP Chapter on the rise

Written by Sam Roberson

14523248 1075804579202742 8844398243053405975 nOmar Rene Torres Ferrer es el presidente de la UPRRP MEDLIFE Capítulo. El capítulo ha visto crecimiento de 30 personas a más de 400 miembros.

Como empezaste a trabajar con MEDLIFE? y Porque elegiste MEDLIFE? 

Comencé como miembro de MEDLIFE en el 2013. Solía participar en algunas de las actividades de Servicio Comunitario, pero mi currículo académico no me dejaba mucho tiempo libre para esto. No fue hasta el año pasado, dialogando con la pasada Presidenta, que es una gran amiga, cuando decidí que debía trabajar a tiempo completo con MEDLIFE. MEDLIFE tiene una filosofía que aspiro poder llevar conmigo toda mi vida, pensé que la mejor manera de perpetuarla era impactando al capítulo de forma directa, fue por  eso que decidí trabajar como Presidente de MEDLIFE UPRRP.

Que nuevas estrategias has utilizado como presdiente de su capitulo para llevar apoyo y inspirar estudiantes a trabajar con MEDLIFE?

Creo que el “ejemplo” es la forma más rápida y efectiva de motivar e inspirar. Me gusta estar presente, me gusta participar de nuestras actividades, no tan solo organizarlas. Solamente estando allí puedo entender lo que sucede, lo que hacemos y a quiénes estamos ayudando. Yo me considero un miembro más, pero con más responsabilidades, creo que es la mejor forma de hacer que otro miembro se motive a trabajar con MEDLIFE.

En tu opinión, cual es el mejor éxito de su capitulo? 

Creo que el mejor éxito de nuestro capítulo es nuestra participación en las Clínicas Móviles. El pasado año contamos con la participación de más de 75 voluntarios entre las clínicas de invierno y verano. Para este año contamos con alrededor de 95 participantes solamente en las clínicas de invierno, por lo que esperamos que cada año este número siga creciendo.

Que hicieron para recolectar muchos fondos para Kirua?

Tuvimos varias actividades para recaudar fondos para Kirua. Sin embargo, la actividad en la que más dinero logramos recaudar fue en una llamada “Off with his hair”. Les cuento, yo tenía el cabello largo, así que la directiva y yo pensamos que sería una buena idea establecer una meta de donaciones y si alcanzábamos los $250.00 me cortaría el cabello, raparía la cabeza y lo donaría. Logramos recaudar $645.00, creo que todos querían que me lo cortara. Así que hoy ya no tengo el cabello largo, pero cuento con la satisfacción de haberle dado un giro tan extraordinario con algo tan cotidiano como dejarse crecer el cabello.

Tienes algunos consejos para otra capitulos?

Sí, les diría que nunca debemos rendirnos a lo que aspiramos. Y me refiero a nuestra magnitud como capítulos. A veces pensamos que porque somos unos pocos no podemos generar un   cambio significativo, pero impactar la vida de al menos una persona es suficiente. MEDLIFE UPRRP comenzó siendo un grupo de alrededor 30 personas y hoy somos un capítulo que cuenta con 472 miembros activos. Posiblemente los que estemos trabajando hoy no veamos los frutos de lo que hacemos, pero alguien tuvo que sembrar el árbol del que hoy comemos. ¡No se rindan!

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Cual es su mejor recuerdo trabajando con MEDLIFE?

Tengo varios recuerdos. La actividad que más recuerdo es el primer MEDLIFE Spot que realizamos, en donde nos encargamos de adoptar un espacio, que hemos visitado mensualmente, para llevar comida a los más necesitado. Sin embargo, debo decir que lo más que llevaré conmigo será cada una de mis reuniones con la Directiva. Mi trabajo, sin el apoyo de un grupo de trabajo tan extraordinario como con el que cuenta nuestro capítulo, sería en vano. Cada discusión, cada actividad que organizamos, cada conversación, cada reunión y hasta nuestras salidas como Directiva las llevaré siempre. La Directiva de MEDLIFE se ha convertido en mi familia inmediata, con ellos no solo me llevo los mejores recuerdos trabajando con MEDLIFE, sino grandes amigos que sé serán para toda la vida.

Que planes tienes para el futuro de su capitulo?

Esperamos poder impactar a más personas. Queremos que Puerto Rico y el mundo se entere de la buena labor que realizamos, queremos regalarle esperanza a aquellos que ya no la tienen. Por eso seguiremos trabajando arduamente para poder recaudar más fondos, realizar más actividades de Servicio Comunitario y reclutaremos más voluntarios que nos ayuden a llevarle medicina, educación y desarrollo a familias de bajo ingreso en todas partes.

 This interview has been translated to English

How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?

I started as a member of MEDLIFE in 2013. I started by participating in some community service activities, but my academic curriculum didn’t leave me a lot of free time. It wasn’t until last year, talking with the last President, who is a very good friend, when I decided that I should work with MEDLIFE fulltime. MEDLIFE has a philosophy that I hope to follow my whole live, I thought the best way to follow it was to make direct impact on my chapter. Because of this, I decided to work as the president of MEDLIFE UPRRP.

What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?

I believe leading by example is the fastest and most effective way to motivate and inspire. I like to be present, to participate in our activities, not just organize them. Just by being there, I am able to understand what happened, what we are doing and who we are helping. I consider myself just another member, just with more responsibilities. I believe this is the best way to work to motivate other members to work with MEDLIFE.

In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?

I think our greatest success is our participation in Mobile Clinics. Last year we had more than 75 volunteers in Summer and Winter Clinics. For this year we have around 95 clinics in Winter Clinics alone, and we are hopeful these numbers will keep growing each year.

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What did you do to raise for the Kirua project?

 

We had various activities to collect money for Kirua. Nevertheless, the activity that we made the most money with was called “Off with his hair.” Let me tell you, I had long hair, and the director and I thought it would be a good idea to establish a goal for donations, which we hit at $250,  and I cut my hair, shaved my head and I donated it. We collected $645, I guess everyone wanted me to cut it. Today, I don’t have long hair, but I feel satisfied to have made such a big change with something as everyday as letting hair grow.

Do you have any advice for other chapters?

I would say never quit working towards what we aspire to. We can have a big impact as chapters. Sometimes, we think that because there are only a few of us we cannot generate a significant change, but to impact the life of just one person is sufficient. MEDLIFE UPRRP started as a group of around 30 people, and today we are a chapter comprised of more than 472 active members. It’s Possible, some who worked then didn’t see the fruits of their labor, but somebody had the plant the tree. Never give up!

What is your favourite memory working with MEDLIFE?

I have a lot of memories. The activity that I remember most is the first MEDLIFE Spot that we did, where we choose a place to visit each month that we visited monthly to bring food to those who needed it most. Nevertheless, I should say that what most moved me personally were all of my meetings with the board of directors. My work, without the support of the extraordinary group of people that make up our chapter would be in vain. Each discussion, each activity we organize, each conversation, each meeting and outing together as a board of directors never fails to move me. The board of directors of MEDLIFE has become like a family to me, with them I do not only have the best memories working with MEDLIFE, but great life friends.

What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?

We hope to impact more people. We hope that Puerto Rico and the World will be affected by the good work we are doing, we want to give hope to those who have none. That is why we continue working hard to be able to raise more money for community service and to find more volunteers to help us bring medicine, education and development to low income families everywhere.

A massive thank you to Foothill High School, California for sending a group of 18 students from their MEDLIFE chapter to our mobile clinic in Lima last week. We would like to give a big thanks to the initiative and cooperation of these students and their parents.  As minors, the students had to be accompanied by chaperones, something they organised themselves to make the trip a possibility.  It is so amazing to see such determination so early on for these students to get out to Lima and help serve the underprivileged communities we work with!

IMG 6112High school students help MEDLIFE staff set up for the mobile clinic.

IMG 6129Setting up a tent for the tooth brushing station.

IMG 6131A little boy looks on eagerly as the clinic is established in his community.

IMG 6239Tooth brushing is always a popular station at the clinics with around 300 children attending the station each clinic week.

IMG 6457The children in the communities were especially excited to see our volunteers at the clinic.

IMG 6462Some volunteers getting hands on experience at the dental station.

IMG 6726Some of the children playing games with the volunteers after the clinic.

IMG 6778Looks like the community will be sad to see these volunteers go!

A massive thank you to everyone who attended the Lima mobile clinic last week.  Thanks to our volunteers, we were able to treat 481 patients with medical attention, 86 patients were able to see our dentist and 133 got to our OB station.  We are looking forward to continuing to support our high school chapters and seeing more and more high school students at our clinics.    

In July of 2016 MEDLIFE held two trips in collaboration with Broadreach for high school students in Ecuador, where we delivered the same immersive hands-on experience that we do for all of our volunteers. Thank you to all of the volunteers who participated for doing a great job and creating an incredible experience for all involved. Over the two weeks we had 247 general medicine patients, 98 breast exams, 35 pap smears, 49 dental patients, and taught 133 kids how to brush their teeth. We will continue expanding opportunities for high school students so that we can bring the MEDLIFE experience to a whole new group of students. 

IMG 4697Volunteers on a tour of an indigenous market.

IMG 4850

IMG 4954Listening to a patients heartbeat during clinic.

IMG 4969Volunteers working at the dental station, where they saw 49 patients.

IMG 5051Preparing medicine at the dentist station.

IMG 5775

IMG 6532Taking a patients blood pressure.

IMG 6938Applying fluoride at the tooth brushing station.

IMG 6637 Volunteers painted local schools for the development project portion of the trip.

IMG 6196The school wasn't the only thing that got painted!

 

We would like to give a huge thanks and congratulations to Univeristy of Georgia MEDLIFE chapter, who was able to raise an incredible $9476 to put towards the Ecuador earthquake relief fund. Their work will have a significant impace This is what the UGA board had to say about running a succesful chapter and fundraisers. 

2The UGA MEDLIFE chapter volunteering at a local food bank.

How long has your chapter been around?

Our chapter was founded in Fall 2010 with 10 active members.

How big is it?

We had 258 active members in our chapter this year with a 10 member executive board.

What was your reaction when you first heard about the earthquake?

We were shocked and saddened by the news, especially when we realized that the earthquake had such a high magnitude.

How has your chapter fundriased in the past?

Our chapter hosted a benefit concert to raise money to build a bathroom for a school in Tena that was in desperate need of improved sanitation, and UGA students volunteered at a mobile clinic over winter break to help complete the project.

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How did you fundraise so much for the earthquake so quickly?

We feel a personal connection to this part of the world and wanted to do all we could to help! Over the course of our school year at UGA we fundraised money through large events such as our annual Spring 5K and winter benefit concert, as well as through smaller fundraising initiatives such as selling Peruvian scarves bought from MEDLIFE mobile clinics, baked goods, Butter Braids (a baked goods company), and Homeless Help Cards (a phone app used to alleviate poverty). Additionally, we hosted a Kaplan course auction, held many percentage nights at local restaurants, volunteered to clean our UGA stadium, and canned downtown Athens.

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What obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Making our cause stand out at a university with hundreds of service organizations was definitely a challenge, but communicating our passion for MEDLIFE's mission to others through social media, advertisements, and everyday conversations helped to make our fundraising efforts a success!

What advice do you have for other chapters thinking about sponsoring a project?

Make sure to start planning large fundraising events as early as possible, but also remember to be flexible! Don't be afraid to try new ideas and initiatives. If you share your enthusiasm for the specific project with other students and members of the community, they will be more willing to support you!

How do you feel about the impact you are making with the money you raised?

We are proud of what we have accomplished, and we are very grateful for our members and executive board for their continuous teamwork and dedication to this cause. However, we also realize that our contribution can only alleviate a fraction of the pain and suffering in Ecuador. We hope to return to Tena, Esmeraldas, or Quito on future mobile clinics in order to help rebuild the communities that have become so dear to us.

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Anything else you would like to add?

Although fundraising contributes a great deal to relief efforts, hands-on service is also a key component of global disaster relief. In April, some of our members volunteered with Medshare, a nonprofit organization that organizes and packages unused and surplus medical supplies to send to countries in need. All of the supplies we sorted were sent to Ecuador. Fundraising provides the means for making these relief efforts a reality through service, so we want to emphasize the importance of volunteering to bring Medicine, Education and Development to Low Income Families Everywhere.

 

unnamed 1Sarah Simko

Karis Barret and Sarah Simko collectively raised $1,646 in their 50:50 campaigns. Here is what they had to say about how they ran successful campaigns and their experience on their trips!

Why did you decide to do a 50:50 campaign?

 Karis: To make a difference , even a little difference and try and raise as much money as I could. It also helped with trip fare, which was nice.

Sarah: That was the same way that I found out about it. I found out about it right after I signed up to go on the trip to Peru. And I thought it was a really great way to help contribute to MEDLIFE and the clinics financially.

Karis: I signed up last minute, so about two weeks.  I sent it out to friends and family and asked them to send it to there friends and managed to have some people donate. If I had started earlier, it would have been easier to get more money but I did what I could with the time I had.

unnamedKaris Barrett

 

Sarah: I also signed up for the trip last minute. It took about two weeks to raise the money. I wrote support emails and sent them out to family and friends letting them know about the trip and how their money can make an impact on the people I would be working with in Peru.

What obstacles did you overcome fundraising?

Karis: I'm from Canada, so lots of people didn't realize it was going to be in American dollars. I also had a lot of family members not know how to use paypal. Some times they just got another family member to send money over paypal and gave them cash. Also, people just gave a little bit less because of the exchange rate, which is terrible right now.

Sarah: The paypal issue was my only obstacle. That was an issue for some family members.

Karis: Especially the older ones, they just wanted to put in a credit card. What's this paypal thing?

Sarah: They would call and ask, "How does it work? Can I just not do that, can I just send you money?" … No!

How do you feel about the money you raised and the impact you made?

Sarah: The most memorable part of the trip was being able work one on one with people. And just seeing how loving and grateful they were towards us just made me want to do this more and I felt really good that I was able to raise some money to contribute to the healthcare they needed.

Karis: The most memorable part for me was seeing how grateful everyone was. And seeing how much it was needed just really reinforced why we are doing this. And made me feel better about raising the money that I did and helping buy supplies.

What would you do differently next time?

Karis: Start earlier!

Sarah: Start earlier than I did and send it to more people!

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