July 02

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Sociological Observations: Getting Started at ALSF

I’m very much an observer of people, and my trip from Wisconsin to Philadelphia to begin my PULSE assignment with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation provided plenty of fodder for my unofficial case study. First a moment of self-analysis and reflection; my husband deftly navigated the organizational quagmire that faced us due to my packing with frustrating ease and good humor. What resulted from my “there is NO WAY” this is all going to fit” resulted in a neat, orderly Rubik’s cube of totes stacked neatly in the back of my Ford Escape (nicknamed “Kodiak” in honor of the trip). My next suggestion was to mark our journey with culinary adventures of the unhealthy kind: Linda’s Bakery, West Salem, WI is a local haunt that’s always dangerous to our diets, and Handel’s Ice Cream  in Canfield, OH made relocation to this community particularly attractive. What’s not to like about a double scoop of Red Sky at night (raspberry ice cream with chocolate truffle chunks)? Our nearly 900 mile trip was punctuated frequently with road construction and rain, and we arrived ready to move into my temporary home.

Handel's
I was lucky enough to find fully furnished accommodations convenient to the ALSF offices, but last-minute, the previous tenant decided to remain through the weekend. We made our headquarters in a hotel, and familiarized ourselves with Philadelphia and the surrounding area. I’ve visited numerous times in the past, but it truly is a fabulous city: history, culture and great food abound! You probably notice a food-related theme to my areas of interest. I secured garage parking near my apartment, and also did some research around residency permits and parking. For $35 (for an entire year) and an application to the Philadelphia Parking Authority, I can park in the District around my apartment (only) with no restrictions. For the application, I needed to provide car registration, a letter stating I am the primary driver of my Company car (on letterhead-which ARI provided), and the lease with the address of where I’ll be living. Although street parking is always in limited supply, it’s great to have a backup that was economical and fairly easy to obtain.
Today was my first official day with Alex’s Lemonade Stand! A mixture of excitement and nerves were combined with a little sadness as I dropped my husband off at the airport this morning. The staff at Alex’s (30 strong) could not have welcomed me more warmly. During their staff meeting I had the opportunity to meet everyone and learn their roles, as well as tell them a little about myself. Following that session, HR Manager, Lisa, walked me through the nuts and bolts of their organization, and has been a ready presence to my almost constant stream of questions. Another great staff member is Tucker, a Bernese Mountain dog (owner Gillian Kocher), not much smaller than some horses I used to ride. What was hysterical was his commentary throughout portions of the staff meeting. I’ll be sure to heed his counsel throughout my tenure here. After lunch, I met with Liz (Co-Director and Alex’s mom), and she talked about her vision and direction for the Foundation named for her daughter in the years ahead.

Gillian & Tucker-ALSF 2013
My primary project with be centered on implementation of a Strategic Business plan. Sound familiar? I continue to be reminded of the commonality that we all share when operating in a business environment. I’ll be delving more deeply into the process over the next few days and weeks, and can’t wait to share it all with you.