ENDA

Recently, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been all the rage.

I wouldn’t normally post about political hot topics, except this piece of legislation is one I have quite the connection to. Not only am I a big fan of workplace equality including gender identity and sexual orientation, but I also played a part in the buzz surrounding this bill.

Working for the Fund for The Public Interest, I represented the Human Rights Campaign educating the public on the approaching legislation of ENDA and fundraising for the organization.

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Similar to some summer jobs, this took place outside. Unlike any jobs I can think of, I asked complete strangers to stop and talk to me about gay civil rights. Within five minutes I was asking for a monthly contribution.

Well that escalated quickly.

This is where the PR mindset comes in, which explains why I was able to excel at this unique skill. For me, it wasn’t five minutes of talking to a stranger.

It was five minutes of creating a relationship. Five minutes to get to know the people who were willing to take a moment out of their busy lives for a contemporary issue.

I’ve often said that I would jump at the chance to learn every single person’s life story. People fascinate me- and meeting 30+ Minneapolis area residents and tourists a day was one of the most meaningful and fulfilling things I have ever done.

Some people avoided me, some were rude, but those genuine connections- authentic enough to lead to a monthly financial commitment and exchange of personal information- made any unfortunate encounters worth it.

The reality is, public relations is all around us. Each conversation I had was basically a live press release for HRC, it was the epitome of community outreach. I knew the organization like the back of my hand, and was always prepared to elaborate on their goals or explain past controversial decisions.

This was not a strategic communications internship of any sort, but I recognized the opportunity to develop public relations experience and make an impact with each interaction. This is what makes resumes three dimensional- unique approaches and mindsets, and the ability to use any opportunity as one for growth.

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Downdogs for Diabetes

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In honor of November being national Diabetes Awareness month, I’d like to shine light on my sorority’s successful philanthropy event this semester. A community yoga class benefiting the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation, the 2nd Annual Downdogs for Diabetes event proved to be a great success.

Last year as the sorority’s philanthropy coordinator, I created this event as our fall semester fundraiser. It brought in over $2000 by selling tickets to the community for $5 ahead of time and $6 at the door. As the instructor and pioneer of the event, there were details that could’ve have gone smoother.

Our philanthropy coordinator this time around, Jess Lieberman, maintained the framework for the event, but made it even better.

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Me with our Philanthropy Coordinator, Jess Lieberman

The remodeling of the U of M Recreation Center came at the perfect time, as we were able to host the event in the gorgeous Beacon Room. This also simplified the process of renting speakers and other audio necessities, seeing as the space in the Rec. was complete with a stereo and microphone system that I am familiar with, as an instructor at the Rec.

The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation funds the research, education and awareness of diabetes, among many programs designed to support sisters and alumni in their personal and professional lives.

This year, through Downdogs for Diabetes, were able to raise over $3000 for the Foundation.

Counteracting the not-so-healthy Pancake feed held every February for the cause, this event displays the value of health while engaging the community. To encourage involvement, a competition was held among the other Greek chapters. Whoever had the most members attend the class would be awarded a private yoga lesson, taught by yours truly. Kappa Alpha Theta was awarded this prize and will be having their private yoga class soon!

All in all, the new location and improved audio system provided for a great event. However the effort Jess, also a strategic communications student, put into the promotion and organization of the event made all the difference. Save the date for another fundraising event, being held on Saturday, December 7th, 11 a.m.-2 p.m!

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Vermont Branch Company

Some say addicted, some say unhealthy, I just describe my shopping habits as dedicated.

As an avid shopper, you find that when a purchase is made that is of poor quality, everyone and their mother will find out.

A sweater ripped after two wears? Food poisoning from the local deli? Someone in these situations will spread the word to friends, enemies, and the person behind him or her in the grocery line to avoid this company at all costs.

However, praise rarely receives the same press.

For this reason, I would like to thank the VermontBranchCompany for providing me with one of the most positive online shopping experiences of my life. Found on Etsy, this tight-knit family business catered their design to my interests.

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Creating candleholders and other products out of birch, the family often carves initials and hearts as gifts for couples. Interested in the design for a round of sorority recruitment, I asked VermontBranchCompany to carve the Greek letters of Alpha Gamma Delta into the candles instead. Without hesitation, they produced 15 perfect candles.

Furthermore, when the candles arrived, they were accompanied by a handwritten thank you note set in a birch place holder. These candleholders fit with the decor flawlessly and added a personal touch that looked like it had be planned for months. I have loved working with this company and promised our returning business for the next recruitment season.

Moral of the story, it’s all in the ask. Hope you check them out as well!

St. Thomas Up ’til Dawn

Last night, I had the opportunity to take part in the St. Thomas Up ’til Dawn event. Throughout the fall, each regional St. Jude office holds Up ’til dawn events at local college campuses.

For region 6, St. Thomas marked a halfway point in the UTD season. Last week College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University raised $22,587 for the patient families of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Winona State, Drake and Iowa State are on the horizon.

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Up ’til Dawn calls for students to create teams and fundraise prior to the event. Teams arrived at UTD around 11 p.m., settling in and enjoying food from Subway, Chipotle and Kind.

At midnight, the event began and a St. Thomas student, Chase Baumgartner told the moving and uplifting story of losing his best friend, Dylan Witschen, a past St. Jude patient. The tellings of the friendship that developed through playing football together, reminded all participants how vital it is they help children “stay up for good.” The Dylan Witschen Foundation thrives in the teenager’s memory.

Throughout the night, participants were entertained by team challenges and minute-to-win-it style games.

One inspiring student, Brittni Sundby, encouraged people to donate by promising to shave her head if she reached her personal goal of $1000. Reaching her goal 9 days before the event, anticipation built. Updating peers and family on Facebook, Brittni confirmed that she would indeed be shaving her head to show support for the children who have no choice but to be bald.

Nearing dawn, Brittni donated her long auburn locks, stating “those kids need hair more than I do” and is now rocking a bald head. Brittni served as the co-director of the St. Thomas UTD executive board and on team St. Jude Rockin Eboard, whose fitting tagline was Bald is Beautiful. The teams and St. Thomas community raised $23,170 for St. Jude, reminding everyone on the St. Jude team of the value of events like these.