After forming as a MEDLIFE chapter in the fall of 2012, the student group at UC Davis had a busy and productive first semester. Check out this interview with the chapter’s president, Tamara Enriquez, about how the chapter was formed, some of their fundraising ideas, and the progress they made in their first few months.
What do you think about MEDLIFE´s work?
We think that MEDLIFE’s work is exceptional — our chapter supports it 100%! We wanted to start a MEDLIFE chapter because it combines medicine, education and community development. It is important to realize that much of the health disparities that we see in Ecuador, Panama, and Peru can be addressed by education and development, thus reducing the amount of medicinal treatment that a patient has to receive. However, not everything can be prevented with education and community development. So, when MEDLIFE does provide medical treatment, the treatment is quality care performed by local doctors. We like the fact that the patients we see will have access to health care even after we leave.
How did you first learn about MEDLIFE and why did you decide to start a chapter?
I spoke to some friends at UC Berkeley about my past experience going on a medical brigade and how I wanted to start another organization with some of my friends who were also interested. They explained that they were in MEDLIFE and, immediately after, we went through the process off starting a chapter at Davis. We wanted to start a chapter because we believed that the work MEDLIFE is doing is effective. We had an amazing experience during our first experience as part of a medical brigade, but we thought that MEDLIFE incorporated more factors into the big picture (sustainability, root causes, etc.) We’re glad to be involved with MEDLIFE, especially because the staff is there for you 24/7. As a new chapter, you need as much support and advice as possible to get things rolling.
How do you go about organizing a fundraiser or event?
We brainstorm potential fundraising ideas during our executive board meetings. The fundraising committee also brainstorms events during general meetings. The fundraising officers then present ideas to the rest of the members to see if they support them. We then have the media committee begin working on the advertising materials while the fundraising committee takes care of logistics (getting in contact with whatever company we are fundraising through, determining what percentage of profits our MEDLIFE chapter will receive from the company, etc.). If money needs to be invested into a fundraiser, the treasury officer takes care of this. Once all the logistics/finances have been set in stone and the advertisement materials have been printed out, we spread the word via flyers around campus and a Facebook event for each fundraiser.
We require our members to attend a number of fundraising events throughout each quarter. Generally, all of the executive board attends every fundraiser, along with whichever members that have time in their schedule to attend. In addition to MEDLIFE members, students who have received a flyer or heard about the fundraiser through word of mouth will attend and show support for the organization.
What was your most successful fundraising event? What could be improved for the next event?
The Raja’s Tandoor fundraiser was successful. For this event, we partnered with the restaurant and were given a percentage of the night’s profit. The owner would like us to set up another fundraiser with them on February 1st!
We found that our Dos Coyotes fundraiser, which was the same type of event, wasn’t as successful because we needed to advertise the event for a longer period of time. In order to create a better turnout for our fundraisers, we could establish fundraising ideas way in advance so that the date we choose is a day where most students will not be occupied with exams. Of course, many other organizations have the same idea, so we plan to book our fundraisers from now on with a lot of notice.
We’re also planning on having our members sign up for designated flyering shifts so that we have people constantly advertising the event on campus. This will help tremendously in spreading the word about our future events.
Do you have any other ideas for other fundraising events?
During our last executive board meeting for the fall quarter, we brainstormed many ideas for the upcoming winter quarter. An exciting fundraiser that should be up and running by next week is the Peruvian craft fundraiser that we were working on last month. Richie, one of the members, has family in Peru. His mother makes handcrafted bookmarks, keychains, and scrunchies. We plan on setting up a booth and selling these during campus-wide events. We are also setting up a hot chocolate fundraiser for Valentine’s day and may also do a bake sale.
Another idea that is still up in the air for the spring is a city-wide bike ride sponsored by our MEDLIFE chapter. The bike ride will lead to one of the downtown restaurants that provides music and a dance floor. We still have to talk about logistics in terms of how to bring in the most money from this event, creating a large turnout of participants, and making sure the event will turn out safely.
Our chapter is very lucky because UC Davis is extremely supportive and provides fundraising opportunities for all registered student organizations. Sodexo, the campus’s primary food provider, allows us to work food booths during sporting games, performances, and other events. The profit we make is similar to making a wage. UC Davis is also having its annual Picnic Day in the Spring, when thousands of people come to our campus to enjoy the festivities and attractions offered by all departments. Sodexo also sponsors food booths at Picnic Day, and our chapter has the potential to make over $1,000 at this event. We also take advantage of any grants or competitions that the University offers to student organizations.
Tamara Enriquez is President of the MEDLIFE Chapter at UC Davis