Cleo Hendrickson, Director of Community Initiatives at the Jersey Coast Chapter, and Kathy Lass, former Director of International Services at the St. Louis Chapter, were recognized at the Partners for Measles Advocacy 8th Annual Meeting for their chapters' outstanding contributions to the fight against measles. Collectively mobilizing more than 700 volunteers over the year and raising more than $26,000, their creativity has ranged from charity balls and auctions to chocolate roses and community walks.
On behalf of The New Jersey Coast Chapter, Cleo Hendrickson (left) receives an award from Jill Grospierre for the chapter’s work on the Measles Initiative.
Wings of Inspiration
Chapter leadership, volunteers, staff, and communities have made this cause their own, so as the Measles Initiative succeeds, they do too. One reason for such broad support may be the Initiative's ability to speak to even those who have never experienced measles or who have never heard of it. From "Help Save Another Mother's Child" to "Children reaching children," as Kathy Lass put it, the goal of saving a life $1 at a time is an inspiration and resonates with many audiences.
"I was immediately moved by this program," said Cleo about her introduction to the Measles Initiative. "Over the years, I continue to have inspiration in many forms, and hearing of the Initiative's success, reducing global deaths by 68% and deaths in Africa by 91%, was one of my proudest moments."
Both Cleo and Kathy have seen children who are too young to understand what measles is get involved in fundraisers. That enthusiasm and eagerness to help improve the lives of other children, even with pennies, is another source of continual encouragement.
"It's great to know that each of us can make a significant difference, even with a small donation," said Cleo.
"I was completely shocked to learn that we would be recognized at the conference, but I was glad to bring back that plaque for the chapter," said Kathy Lass, who retired from her position just before the conference.
Kathy Lass stands by a photograph of soldiers who helped make chocolate roses to raise money for the Measles Initiative.Photo Credit: Rachel Kleinberg
Cleo and Kathy had a chance to speak briefly about their work on fundraisers and with their communities. They felt that it was motivating as well as humbling to be recognized and to know how successful they had been in the country. For all those visiting from partner organizations, field offices, and vaccination campaigns, their personal anecdotes tied together the technical details of the conference with the special stories of how important their work is to not just those receiving immunizations, but also to those who believe that every donation makes a difference and brings the Initiative one step closer to its goal.
Cleo concluded that, "It is also a reminder that we could do so much more if more chapters were involved. If every citizen in this country donated just one dollar, the results would be truly profound."
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative-led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization-provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns worldwide. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.