September 12


Out of the office

My PULSE assignment at Direct Relief International as a Communications and Marketing Team Lead is pretty similar to my day job at GSK as a Employee Communications Manager. At GSK, I come into an office, sit in an open plan environment and develop communication plans and strategies for large projects. At Direct Relief, I come into an office, sit in a cubicle and develop communication plans and strategies for the entire organization. See…..pretty similar.

Recently, I had some opportunities to get out of the office and experience how my PULSE organization does their work. Both events were completely different from each other and it reinforced for me the wide-ranging activities that a non-profit undertakes to accomplish their mission.

Personal Care Packing Event

While Direct Relief is known for their international work, particularly during disasters, they do incredible things right in their backyard. The Personal Care Packing event has been going on for over 20 years and twice a year, volunteers and staff assemble approximately 3,000 packs that contain personal care items, such as soap, shampoo and lotion. In total, the packs from both packing days help an estimated 22,000 people annually in the Santa Barbara Community with an average value of $92 per family pack and $64 per men’s pack; the total yearly support is over $496,000. It is an awesome way for Direct Relief to give back to the local community and allows volunteers and local organizations to be active participants in Direct Relief’s work.

I was excited to participate in this event because it gave me a chance to meet the Direct Relief volunteers and I really got to be hands on. The event reminded me of the Day of Service we had at GSK last year to commemorate 9/11. While we weren’t packing food, it was definitely a team effort and we used a similar process to make sure the packs were filled appropriately. It took many hours and several volunteers to complete 3,000 packs and while this won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, I totally wasn’t dressed appropriately and walking around on a concrete floor for hours in 6 in. heels took a toll on my body.

Channel Cat Thank You Cruise

A completely different event I was able to attend was the Channel Cat Thank You Cruise. This cruise, around the Santa Barbara coast, was hosted by Direct Relief to thank supporters for helping to raise a record-breaking amount during the 2012 American Riviera Wine Auction hosted by the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation (SBVF) in February.

While the Personal Care Packing event was putting the rubber to the road and doing hard work to support those who need it most, the Thank You Cruise was a different way to get serious work done as well. It is easy to forget that money needs to be raised in order for a non-profit to be able to operate and accomplish their goals and stated mission. Here are two cool facts I learned on the cruise – The Channel Cat is a gorgeous luxury catamaran owned by Charlie Munger from Bershire Hathaway (he donated the use of the boat for the event) and I live next to the Santa Barbara estate of Huguette Clark (she was the daughter of William Andrews Clark and lived as a recluse in NYC for many decades before she died at 104 years old last year).