It’s the final countdown

Well I hate to say it, but I only have one more week of work with JDRF.  Boy did the last six weeks go by quickly!  I know I already posted earlier this week about what it was like working during the CEO transition, but I thought I would post one again at the end of my sixth week at JDRF to reflect on my time here and what I hope to do in the week I have remaining.

This week was a busy one.  It began on Monday with the hectic, abrupt transition from Jeffrey Brewer to Derek Rapp as President & CEO.  The communications department was a little crazy that day, but by the end of it, we had done our job of communicating and monitoring the audience’s reaction, and I’d say it was a job well done!

Throughout the rest of this week I have been working on compiling lists of donors and fundraisers who have given $50,000 or more in the last fiscal year.  This includes Gala donors, Walk captains, Riders, major givers, etc.  I’ve been compiling all these various lists into one comprehensive spreadsheet organized by Donor Relations Officer (DRO) so we can have the DROs cross-check and make sure we didn’t miss any major donors.  After THAT we will use this list to send out research progress reports to keep our donors informed about how their dollars are being put to use and how JDRF’s research is making progress toward turning type one to type none.  It’s honestly been a bit of a crazy process.  Pulling all these lists from different people has required a lot of back-and-forth emailing and waiting and following up and waiting again.  And then once I get the lists from people, I realize that almost every one of the lists is formatted differently, so it’s required me to do a lot of experimenting on Excel to figure out the best layout to include all the correct information.

The other main project I’ve been helping with this week is updating the Research Information Volunteer (RIV) roster.  JDRF chapters have RIVs in order to help communicate research news to chapter members and keep them informed.  RIVs participate in monthly Webinars, receive email updates, and other training in order to keep up-to-date on the latest JDRF research.  Paige needs to orient and train new RIVs, so I have been contacting every chapter to confirm the RIV we have for them on file and ask if they have any new RIVs that we should know of.  Again, a LOT of emailing back and forth.  My inbox has been quite full this week!

On Thursday there was all staff meeting with Derek Rapp.  Thursday was Derek’s first day in the office after being on vacation with his family.  The 40-minute meeting comprised of his introduction, speech, and a Q&A session for all staff.  I can’t tell you how valuable it feels to be at JDRF at such an important time.  Derek seems like he will do a great job as the head of JDRF, and I can’t wait to see how research continues to progress after Jeffrey’s leadership.

Cool side note: Derek gave a special shout-out to the Communications department in his speech, thanking us for doing a great job handling such an abrupt transition.  Even though he probably has no idea I’m part of the Communications department this summer, it felt AWESOME to be recognized!

After the meeting, Hannah, Jenni, and I left work early to go meet up with Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999 and founder of Students with Diabetes, the wonderful organization that gave us these internship opportunities!  It was so wonderful to see her again after being apart since the SWD Conference in June.  Nicole is in town for an International Board of Directors meeting.  We met her at Double Tree, where she was staying just a street over from JDRF.

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We spent time discussing our internship experiences, what they’ve taught us, and how they’ve impacted our potential career choices in the future.  We also had the opportunity to meet John Brady (Chairman of the Board) and Dick Allen (former Chairman of the Board).

Having the opportunity to sit down and chat with Nicole provided some great reflection time and discussion.  After only six weeks with JDRF in NYC, I have learned SO so much.  Here are some of my reflections/thoughts/learnings from my internship experience so far:

  1. I really enjoy communications work.  As a Community & Public Health Promotion major, I have always had in the back of my mind the goal of becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).  Even if I wasn’t a CDE, I would still want to be involved in diabetes education in some way or another.  Working with JDRF this summer has shown me a lot of different types of work, though.  I enjoy monitoring media.  I enjoy reading and writing diabetes blog posts.  I enjoy crafting emails and updating messaging.  I enjoy organizing.  I’ve discovered that there are many things I enjoy!  Thanks to the experience I’ve had this summer, I am currently thinking of pursuing a graduate degree in Health Communications.  Whether for a diabetes company or not, I love being a part of a communications department and the work they do to communicate an organization’s mission and keep the staff organized and informed 24/7.
  2. I want to continue blogging.  Thank you, Nicole, for encouraging all of us interns to keep blogs about our experiences!!  That encouragement combined with the exposure to the diabetes online community (DOC) I’ve gained this summer through T1D in the News has really convinced me to continue blogging, specifically about living with type 1 diabetes (T1D).  The DOC is amazing.  I want to continue to be a part of it and contribute to the discussions, encouragement, and support it provides so many.
  3. There are more ways to be involved with JDRF than just participating in the Walk.  I have been a Walk Team Captain for the past two years and am registered again for the Cleveland Walk to Cure Diabetes this fall.  After being with JDRF this summer, I have been exposed to so many parts of JDRF that I didn’t know existed!  For example, the T1D Voices Council.  Or advocacy in general.  Or the Ride to Cure Diabetes.  Or becoming a Research Information Volunteer.  There are so many ways to be involved with JDRF and stay involved, even if don’t end up being employed by them in the future.  There are so many ways to help them turn type one to type none!!!
  4. JDRF’s research is amazing and is providing real hope for a future with no T1D.  Seriously.  Encapsulation?  Artificial Pancreas?  Yes please!!
  5. I have gained so many skills, connections, and experiences.  From learning new acronyms like DRO, RIV, ODST, ED, and so many more to helping to manage the communications side of the CEO transition, I have gained so much experience!!!  I have continued to improve my writing skills, my communication skills, my time management, organization, and priority skills, and much more.  And on top of that, I have met some really great people!  Nicole Johnson, Jeffrey Brewer, and the entire Communications department.  It feels great to have such strong connections to JDRF!
  6. T1D friends are the bomb-diggity.  Have I mentioned how amazing it is to have people in your life who know what it’s like to really live with T1D?  Because it’s fantastic.  Here are a few examples:
    1. Kady keeps a drawer of low snacks in her desk.  On days that I exhausted my glucose tabs or fruit snacks?  I could sneak over and use some of hers!
    2. Having a roller coaster of a day with my blood sugars?  There are four.  other.  people.  in the office who know exactly what that feels like.  Not only do they know what it feels like, but they tell me it’s ok to come in a little late to work if my numbers are high and making me feel sick in the morning.  (It happens once or twice).
    3. Had a crazy night with no sleep because of low blood sugars?  Guess what?  So did my friend!  And we can rant together about how frustrating it is to not wake up to our CGM alarms!
    4. They get it.  They get how frustrating it is that no one else completely 100% understands living with T1D.  They understand the strange low symptoms that sometimes you can’t describe with words (Remember, Jenni?  When we rejoiced over realizing we both fell that strange tingly feeling on our tongues when we’re low?  No one has ever understood that!).  They understand the exhaustion that comes with a roller coaster day.  They understand the need to “unplug” from the CGM for a few days.  They just understand 🙂
  7. Never be afraid of a new experience.  I was really nervous to live in NYC by myself all summer.  I was really nervous to work in the NYC headquarters of a company that is on the forefront of T1D research.  I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know if I’d be a success or failure or something in between.  It turns out it didn’t matter what I thought.  This summer was nothing like I expected!  I learned so much, dealt with loneliness and exploring a big new city, gained professional and personal experience in the diabetes world, and became a stronger, more well-rounded person because of it.  Never be afraid of a new experience, because you never know.  It might be better than you expected!

As you can tell, I have loved my summer internship experience with JDRF, thanks to Students with Diabetes.  Although I am extremely homesick and cannot WAIT to spend seven days at home before going back to school (oh gosh.  School.  I hardly got a break!), I am also a little sad to leave the JDRF office.  It feels like I just got settled!  But I am excited to come home and take what I’ve learned and integrate it into my life at home.

Looking ahead, I am very excited for this weekend and next week.  Tomorrow, Hannah, Jenni, and I are going to a free showing of The Hunger Games on Roosevelt Island together.  I’m really excited!  Then next week I am going to see Ingrid Michaelson at Summer Stage in Central Park with my dear friend, Alana, who lives on Long Island.  And THEN my parents are coming to get me!  They’re going to take me, Paige, and Kady to lunch on Friday, my last day, and then I will show them around the office at the end of the day.  The office is even throwing a “Goodbye Amy” party, complete with cheesecake, my favorite!

I feel very fortunate to have spent a summer in this city and with this company.  I wouldn’t trade it!

 

 

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Walking that tightrope #showmeyourpump

Everyday this week while compiling T1D in the News, I continue to see articles, blog posts, tweets, and the like about Siera Sandison, Miss Idaho 2014, and her #showmeyourpump campaign. I posted my #showmeyourpump photo last week, and I have loved all the openness I have seen on social media about showing pumps, pens, CGMs, and the like. People aren’t shy about showing off their diabetes!

Ever since the big news about Siera Sandison wearing her insulin pump onstage for the Miss Idaho competition, I have been trying to follow her social media accounts to keep up to date on her campaign and all the awareness she is creating.  Yesterday she tweeted:

For upcoming blogpost: what is the most common question or misconception you encounter when discussing diabetes with others? #showmeyourpump

Well, I’m going to take a break from writing about my internship and take this opportunity to respond to Siera’s blog prompt!

Up until this past year, I honestly didn’t experience many of the outrageous questions or misconceptions that many people with T1D encounter everyday, but simply because I wasn’t very open about sharing my diabetes with anyone.  Sure, my closer friends and family knew I have T1D, but I never intentionally took the time out of my day to bring this topic up to my more casual friends, acquaintances, or introductions.  If the topic came up I would give the simplest explanation of T1D as I could, leaving very little signals that welcomed more conversation on the topic.

Sure, I’d get the occasional, “Wow, so you really have to watch what you eat, right?” or “You have diabetes?  But you’re so slim!”  But I tried to clear up those misunderstandings as quickly as possible and move on to another topic of conversation, unless the person I was talking to shows a genuine interest in learning more about the disease and how I live with it.

Only in the past year or so have I gained more of a confidence in talking openly and freely about living with T1D without trying to end the conversation as soon as possible.  I’ve learned that by welcoming conversation and inquiries, yes, I do get more crazy questions and misconceptions, but I also receive a lot of understanding and desire to know more about the disease and how I manage it.

SO now to answer the actual prompt.  After thinking on this for a while, I guess I’d have to say the most common question or misconception I encounter when discussing diabetes with others is the following: People seem to think that as long as I do the “right things,” (count carbs, check my blood sugar, and give insulin) I am able to perfectly control 100% of my numbers 100% of the time.

FALSE FALSE FALSE!

Oh HOW I wish this were true.  Seems simple, right?  My pancreas doesn’t make insulin, so as long as I calculate the right dosages of insulin to take with my meals and my high blood sugars, everything should be a-okay, right?  Wrong.  Type 1 Diabetes is a complicated disease.  Every day presents a different set of circumstances.  While other people’s bodies automatically regulate their blood sugar levels perfectly no matter what curve ball life throws at them, my body is left powerless to the threats that stress, exercise, food, sickness, and a dozen other things pose to my blood sugars.

One of my favorite online posts explaining the exhaustion that comes with trying to “perfectly” manage blood sugars with type 1 diabetes is written by Riva Greenberg, who describes Type 1 diabetes in this way:

 Type 1 diabetes is a tightrope walk — all day and all night taking action to anticipate, prevent and recover from my blood sugar going too high and too low.

Yet no matter how hard we try to balance on that tightrope, type 1 diabetes is relentlessly unpredictable.  What works one day doesn’t work the next.  The insulin that you so perfectly calculated to cover that bowl of cereal you just ate? Turns out it wasn’t enough.  Your doses have been the same for weeks and producing nearly flawless numbers?  This week they decided to be different.

While I understand why people who don’t have T1D would think it’s a perfectly controllable disease, I still get frustrated when they ask me questions like, “Oh, your blood sugar is high today?  Why?  Did you eat too much?  Did you not calculate your insulin correctly?”

No, I didn’t eat too much, and yes, I calculated my insulin correctly.  There are just way too many other factors in my body affecting my blood sugars that I am not aware of.  The body is unpredictable.  It is impossible to know every single thing that is going on in my body every single second of the day.  It is amazing how seamlessly undiseased (is that a word?) bodies work to stay functioning every single day.  Only through having T1D have I gained a true appreciation for how our bodies work.  Who would think that missing one little hormone could have such an effect on how the body works?  It is SO much more difficult to control blood sugar levels manually than it is with a functioning pancreas doing it for you.

Writing this post reminds me of a hypoglycemic episode I had back in March while I was at school.  I was studying with my boyfriend, Matt, near the fireplace at school, when all of a sudden he noticed I was typing the same sentence twice in an email, zoning out, not reading as quickly as I normally do, and dozing off even though it was only 8 pm.  He realized I was going low.  I didn’t have my CGM in that day, so I hadn’t been alerted to my low blood sugar (I had also been struggling with hypoglycemic unawareness, not usually feeling low symptoms until I am in the 50s or 60s).  He tried to give me sugar tabs, but I was belligerent, stubborn, and slightly violent in refusing them.  (I don’t even recall this episode past trying to write the email I mentioned earlier).  He eventually called 911 and an ambulance took me to the hospital, where my blood sugars was 19 mg/dl.  People, that.  Is.  DANGEROUS.  I remember coming to and seeing a team of nurses and EMTs surrounding me, with Matt in the corner of the room.  My blood sugars came up quickly and I was able to leave the hospital that night.

Why do I bring this story up now?  Because for the days following this episode, I was bombarded with questions.  Going to a very small university, word spreads quickly (as do prayer requests – I go to a Christian school, so many had been praying for me when they heard I was in the hospital).  I felt very overwhelmed with care and concern and was very appreciative for all of the love that was shown to me.  I felt cared for.

Yet I also felt a little intruded upon in some ways.  Some people asked me questions (with the best of intentions) like, “Why did your sugars go so low?  Did you not eat enough for dinner?”  or “What did you do, how could you not have known they were dropping so quickly?” or even “Hadn’t you been managing your numbers well this week?”

While I can make some educated guesses as to why my numbers dropped so quickly, the mysteries of the human body are just that: mysteries.  I can try as hard as possible, I can devote all my time and energy to blood sugar control, and I can vigilantly pay attention to every bump in the road that might cause my blood sugar to spike or plummet, but ultimately it comes down to this: my own efforts will never quite measure up to what my body was made to do on its own.

Until a cure comes, I will continue walking this very shaky tightrope.  But I might lose my balance a few times…  It just happens.  🙂

JDRF’s Transition to a new CEO: A busy day in the communications department

With only two weeks left in my internship with JDRF, I am sad, excited, and extremely grateful all at once. I am sad that in two weeks I will no longer be working for JDRF (though of course I will always be a part of JDRF’s work through my own fundraising and advocacy efforts). I am excited to go home for one week and spend some quality (but sadly brief)  time with my loved ones before moving back to campus for fall semester. And I am so grateful that I was given this huge opportunity to learn and gain experience at a company like JDRF, who is on the forefront of type 1 diabetes research to find a cure for all of us who live with T1D.

It’s only Monday of my second last week, and I already know this week will be a crazy one. Last night, my T1D friend and fellow intern Jenni Maizel, texted me with a screenshot of Jeffrey Brewer’s (as of today, former President & CEO of JDRF) facebook announcing that he will no longer hold the same position at JDRF. I had no idea why, how, when, or any specifics about this transition, but I knew that my next day at work would likely be a busy one with such a huge transition happening. And how crazy is it that I happen to be interning with JDRF at such an important time??  I love experiencing such big happenings such as this one!

I arrived at work early this morning (about 8:40 am) to find that there were already three others who had arrived early as well: Anne (VP of Strategic Communications), Paige, and Brian. Paige came to my desk and asked if I’d like anything from Starbucks, as she was going to get breakfast since the three of them had been in the office since 6:30 this morning. WHOA. Cue the beginning of a hectic day in the communications department.

I opened my email to find two “urgent” emails in my inbox about the transition from Jeffrey Brewer to Derek Rapp, JDRF’s new President & CEO. Finally, it all began to make sense. Jeffrey has left his role at JDRF after having done some amazing work resetting JDRF’s research strategy, fundraising strategy, and management and governance systems. Now, after accomplishing this important work, he has left his position as President & CEO and it is time for a transition to new leadership. Derek Rapp, who’s son Turner (fellow SWD intern!) has T1D, will be JDRF’s new President & CEO. He has served on JDRF’s International Board of Directors since 2010 and has been actively involved in JDRF’s mission and work. Jeffrey has set JDRF on the right course for research, and Derek will continue to propel JDRF’s work turning Type One to Type None.

At 9:30, the communications department had a quick meeting in Anne’s office to discuss the transition and how we would be communicating this information to different audiences. I could tell right away that today would be an important (and crazily fast-paced and busy) one. There were so many things to do and take care of! How do we communicate the transition to staff? To donors? To volunteers? What language do we use? How do we answer questions about the transition?

At 9:00 am, we posted a press release regarding JDRF’s CEO transition, which has certainly gained attention from various media outlets. As I was working on T1D in the News, I saw links to our press release pop up throughout my news searches of the day. At first they trickled in slowly, and then all at once I saw dozens! News sure does spread quickly thanks to the Internet!

Having the experience of being in the office on a day like today has certainly given me an appreciation for what the communications department does every day! They handled a very big, important transition with style and poise to ensure that audiences everywhere understand the transition accurately and correctly.  I’m really excited to see the progress that JDRF continues to make toward finding a cure while under new leadership.  So much progress has been made in the past few years, and it will only get better from here!

For example – One of JDRF’s research concentrations has gotten some special attention in the media lately: encapsulation.  Here’s the idea behind encapsulation: “New beta cells are created and wrapped in a permeable, protective barrier which is implanted in the body. The new beta cells release insulin when needed while the barrier protects them from being destroyed by the autoimmune attack.” (quotes from JDRF’s website) “Encapsulated cell therapy has the potential to virtually eliminate the relentless daily management burden for those living with T1D: no need for multiple daily insulin injections or pump therapy, no more constant blood testing and no more carb counting. People with T1D would just go about their daily lives for extended periods of time as if they didn’t even have the disease.”

Last week, ViaCyte announced that they will soon be moving ahead to human trials for encapsulation.  SO EXCITING!

JDRF is making huge strides in creating a world without T1D, and I love being a part of it all.  Personally and professionally.  Personally, encapsulation could change my life.  The idea of having a simple outpatient surgery to implant new beta cells every few years seems miles better than daily finger pricks, site changes, sensors, carb counting, and the like.  Professionally, it’s been so fascinating to be a part of media tracking what JDRF releases to the media.  Last week I tracked our press release about ViaCyte’s announcement and BOY did it get a lot of coverage.  I helped Christopher, our Director of Public Relations, create a list of all the media outlets that had picked up our release.  There was over 8 pages worth – and I didn’t even get them all!  Like I said, I’m gaining a growing appreciation for what the communications department does at JDRF.  It’s incredible.

Aside from those two very exciting announcements, today’s tasks at work were fairly normal.  I am working on compiling lists of donors, Walk Team captains, and Riders who have donated or raised $50,000 or more in the past year in order to send them research progress reports throughout the year.  We like to keep our donors and fundraisers in the know about how their funds are being used to turn Type One into Type None!  It’s been an interesting process of pulling lists from different departments and compiling/streamlining them into one cumulative list.  It’s tedious, but very enlightening!  There are so many dedicated donors that I am personally so very thankful for.  Without the generosity of donors and the leadership like Jeffrey Brewer and now Derek Rapp, who knows where JDRF would be!  I sure don’t, but I am thankful for where we are and where we’re heading in the future.

Exciting times for the T1D community, people, exciting times 🙂

#showmeyourpump

This Sunday marked the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Week, and I have certainly been immersed in diabetes awareness this week! The DOC continues to amaze and encourage me every single day: to see their advocacy efforts, their work to change #dstigma and how people talk about type 1 diabetes, their optimism about the future in research for a cure… I could go on and on.

There has been one story in particular that drew my attention (in addition to many others!) this week. Sierra Sandison, who lives with T1D, was crowned Miss Idaho 2014 this week. What’s more, Sierra wore her insulin pump onstage for the swimsuit competition! Talk about self-confidence and stepping out for diabetes awareness!  Her crowning received much well-deserved attention and respect from the DOC.  Yesterday, Sierra shared a photo on Facebook from the swimsuit competition along with a call to action for all those with T1D:

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There it is. I would never have dreamt of posting a swimsuit picture on social media, but diabetics from all over the country have been asking to see me and my insulin pump on the #MissIdaho2014 stage. Honestly, it is terrifying walking out on stage in a swimsuit, let alone attached to a medical device. My message to everyone, diabetic or not, is that we all have something that doesn’t “measure up” to the beauty standards set by the media–and that is okay! It does not make you any less beautiful. We also all have obstacles, challenges, and trials. Diabetes turned my life upside down when I was first diagnosed. Don’t let your challenge hold you back or slow you down. Use it to, not only empower yourself and grow as an individual, but to serve and influence other people as well. 

With that said, I have faced my fear of proudly showing my insulin pump! Now I want to see YOURS! Post your photo on social media (insta, twitter, facebook–make sure it is shared publically so I can see it) with the hashtag #showmeyourpump! The nationwide support from my fellow diabetics this weekend has been AMAZING! I can’t wait to see more of you guys! 

This is not limited to just girls, or to people with pumps–I want to see YOU and whatever your daily battle with diabetes looks like. 

Sierra, you are such an inspiration!  I was diagnosed when I was 10 years old, and I have always been self-conscious about showing my pump site and CGM site when I wear a bathing suit.  Teenage girls are already self-conscious enough as it is, right?!  We all have obstacles, challenges, and trials that can overcome us, but not if we choose to overcome them!

While I won’t be sharing a bikini photo (for modesty reasons, not embarrassment reasons 🙂 ), here is a photo of me wearing my insulin pump proudly on the waist of my skirt today!

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I have always loved wearing skirts and dresses, but it has taken me a long time to feel confident and comfortable about wearing my pump visibly while doing so.  For the longest time, I wore my pump on a leg strap (think like a big garter with a pocket) around my thigh, which was often tight and uncomfortable.  But I would willingly sacrifice comfort for so-called confidence over and over again.  Over the past 6 months or so, I have gradually been putting my pump on the waist band of my skirts instead of hiding it underneath where it is often so tight and uncomfortable!  I have grown confident and proud to wear my pump so visibly.  It brings questions, comments, and conversation that are all welcome because they bring about awareness and education.  Thank you, Miss Idaho, for inspiring and encouraging so many people with T1D to embrace who they are and still live life to the fullest!  #showmeyourpump

Time’s flying by!

So my third week at JDRF absolutely flew by, with it really only consisting of two and a half days.

I continued to work on T1D in the News every day, which still remains to be one of my favorite tasks.

I also submitted some notes I took while doing competitive research on other non-profit organization’s volunteer spotlight techniques. JDRF currently posts volunteer spotlights that feature notable, passionate volunteers that have significantly impacted JDRF. The communications department is looking to update and refresh how we put these spotlights together, so I was given the responsibility of checking out how other organizations do similar spotlights! It was pretty fun. I spent some time browsing websites of other non-profits and jotting down the features I thought were best about various spotlights.

In addition to T1D in the News and volunteer spotlight research, I helped Shawn with contacting people for permission to reprint charts from studies published in medical journals for use in our research progress reports. This was probably the scariest thing I have done thus far and let me explain why… JDRF uses charts and figures in our research progress reports to show donors how their money is being used to fund research in addition to how much progress our research has been making. These charts and figures often come from studies that are JDRF-funded but are published in other journals. Therefore, we need to get permission to use those charts and figures. Sometimes we get permission to do so, but only with a fee. Well, with JDRF being a non-profit organization (in fact, the non-profit organization that funded all of these research studies in the first place), Shawn asked if I could look into getting the fees waived, or at least decreased significantly. Oh boy!! I told her I would contact the woman who gave us the permission and fees and explain to her our situation and our request to waive the fees. It all sounds pretty simple, right? Well here’s the thing. Making phone calls kind of terrifies me. I don’t know why. I’m usually a pretty good conversationalist and communicator in person and in front of groups. But the idea of picking up a phone, dialing a number that belongs to someone I do not know, introducing myself and explaining why I’m calling, and then trying to “get my way” so to speak? It makes me so nervous!! Let’s just say it took me a good ten minutes to simply calm myself down and psyche myself into making this call.

I ended up leaving a message and giving the woman Shawn’s number.

Hahahahaha all that nervousness for nothing!

Aside from that nerve-wracking endeavor, Tuesday was pretty fun. JDRF hired a new Director of Public Relations, Christopher Rucas. We had a welcome lunch for him on Tuesday, much like the welcome lunch that was given for me, Hannah, and Jenni on our first day. He has a lot of experience and seems to be very good at what he does. I like him so far! Paige and I met with him to go over T1D in the News and how it can be improved, which is actually now something I am currently working on THIS week – improving the document itself and how it is compiled. It’s pretty interesting.

On Wednesday, like I mentioned earlier, I got to leave earlier to catch a plane back to Cleveland. My flight was scheduled for 6:29 pm and I allowed myself PLENTY of time to get through security, as I knew Newark Airport would be busier than Cleveland. Turns out it took me only 20 minutes to get through security, so I was left with 2-3 hours before my flight to wander the airport… or so I thought…

My flight ended up being delayed until ONE IN THE MORNING. Not. Fun. There were massive thunderstorms and long story short, our plane was coming from Florida and detoured to Baltimore because of the storms. And there in Baltimore it stayed until the weather was safe enough to fly to Newark. Which ended up being 1 in the morning apparently. I did, however, see many planes take off and land between the hours of 6:29 pm and 1:00 am… so not really sure why ours had to be delayed so long… But anyways. I got home safe and sound at 3 in the morning and promptly fell asleep. I was POOPED.

On the bright side, waiting for six hours at an airport gate provides some unique bonding experience. Especially with cute toddlers. I seem to be quite the kid magnet, as a few toddlers curiously were staring at me and trying to touch me as I sat behind them at the gate. I ended up making funny faces and playing with them for a little bit of time. It definitely brightened my evening 🙂 And then, the next morning at Lakeside, I woke up and came downstairs to Ellie, who walked over to me sticking her arms up in the air in the classic, “Pick me up, pick me up” position that toddlers love to do. I picked her up and she just snuggled right into me for a good five minutes. Ahhhhhhh, bliss. Family. Rest!

I won’t say a whole lot about my weekend on vacation, but I will share some pictures! It was a wonderful weekend, and I felt like I could’ve stayed at Lakeside forever. Matt got to come, too, which I loved SO much. We went to our first wedding together, experienced Lakeside together (we’ve both been long-time Lakesiders, but never met until this year), and had great family time together. All in all a great respite weekend in the middle of my internship experience in NYC 🙂

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Fourth of July parade

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The little diva

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She loves that camera lens

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Evan and Peepaw – mouths watering while waiting for Nagoya

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Ellie kept wanting me to pick her up 🙂

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Love his face!

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We went to our first wedding together!

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Glacial grooves on Kelley’s Island

Coming back to NYC was a bit strange for me after spending (almost) five days on vacation in my little-corner-of-heaven-Lakeside-home. Surrounded by people I loved, it was so hard to go back to a little room in NYC all alone. It took me a little while to adjust emotionally.

But now that I’m back, I’m ready to work some more! I went back to work on Tuesday, and let me tell you I was SLAMMED! I came back to about 20 emails and a handful of new projects to work on. It was a little bit overwhelming, but it was so fun to be so busy.

New projects:

  • Speakers Bureau
    • Paige was recently given the responsibility of overseeing the Speakers Bureau, a group of trained staff and volunteers who represent JDRF publicly and support fundraising efforts by conveying JDRF’s plan for a world without T1D by speaking at various JDRF events across the country and throughout the year.  (Donor development events, Walk kick-offs, pre-gala receptions, board meetings, outreach events, etc.)  Now that the Speakers Bureau is her responsibility, she’s asked for my help in listening to some past conference calls between the Bureau members (there’s 14 of them) so I can get a better idea of what the speakers need, how they can be supported, and how we can maximize their strengths and skills while they are at events.  I listened to three one-hour conference call recordings and learned a LOT. I learned about what the speakers love about JDRF, what they appreciate about being the Bureau, what they find challenging, where they need the most support, and most importantly, the ways we at National can best help them.  I think the Speakers Bureau is pretty fantastic; it’s a group of some phenomenal advocates and volunteers who are really passionate about JDRF and creating a world without T1D.  I would LOVE to hear one of them speak one day.
  • RIV Roster
    • RIVs are research information volunteers.  Most chapters have one or a few.  The job of the RIV is to share current diabetes research and provide updates on new diabetes technology being developed.  This involves monthly webinars with other RIVs to receive updated research information, messaging guidelines, and the latest JDRF news.  The RIVs then communicate this information to their Chapter and the public.
    • Paige is currently working on updating the RIV roster so she can identify any new RIVs that need to be oriented and trained.
    • That’s where I come in!  First I am going through our current list of RIVs and making sure that list matches up with the master list of chapters and branches.  Then we will be contacting all the chapters and branches that don’t have RIVs and asking them if they have recently hired any.  THEN we will be contacting the chapters and branches that DO have RIVs and making sure we have the right RIV on file for them.  Lots and lots of updating…
  • Condolence Acknowledgement Letters
    • During my first week at JDRF, I was given the opportunity to proofread and update the messaging on some acknowledgement letters.  A few more were added to that batch this week, including condolence acknowledgement letters.  These letters are sent out to the next-of-kin of people who have passed away and left a gift to JDRF in their will.  In the letter we express our condolences, gratitude, and information about JDRF to the family.  We also send a letter to the firm that deals with the deceased’s account.  I went through the letters and used our updated messaging guidelines to tweak some sentences here and there to make it consistent with our FY15 messaging.
  • Updating (and Improving) T1D in the News
    • I mentioned this briefly earlier, but JDRF recently hired a new Director of Public Relations, Christopher.  Paige and I met with him to tell him about T1D in the News, and he showed us some improvements we could think about making.  We’re going to meet next week after I draft up a sample document of the suggested improvements.
  • TypeOneNation Summit Conference Call and Feedback
    • Prior to this week, I had crafted a survey to send out to the ten TypeOneNation pilot chapters.  These ten chapters were the first chapters to receive Lilly funding of $15,000 to put on a TypeOneNation Summit, or conference.  I made a survey and sent it to the chapters to gather feedback about their Summit and our support.  After the survey results came in, Emily, Kady, and I all got on the phone with the chapters for a conference call to discuss the results and suggestions!  It was so interesting to be on a phone call with about a dozen people.  The chapters had great suggestions for next years Summits.  Emily and Kady focused on asking questions about how each chapter did their budgeting, as this was the first year we received funding from Lilly to put on a conference.  It’s important to have that budgeting information so we can potentially receive more funding in the future.  We hope to have twenty conferences next year (ten more than this year).

So with all these new projects and things to work on, Tuesday and Wednesday were relatively busy.  That came to a quick halt on Thursday, as most of the office was gone in DC for the One Walk conference.  JDRF is currently in the process of changing the Walk to Cure Diabetes to the JDRF One Walk.  This conference was put on for the chapters that are piloting the One Walk!  This meant, however, that the only people left in the Communications department this week were me, Paige, Shawn, and Paul.  It was so quiet!  And pretty un-busy in my case… Everyone was gone, so I didn’t have much to work on!  I continued working on T1D in the News, updating the Q&A document, taking notes on SB calls, and other miscellaneous to-dos.  But yesterday and today sure did go by more slowly than Tuesday and Wednesday did!

All in all, I’m ready for the weekend.  I am currently sitting at Grounded, a cafe in West Village that Paige told me about.  I’m ready for my “me” time… reading, journaling, and drinking a “honey bee latte.”  Mmmm…

Until next time!  Thanks for reading 🙂