MEDLIFE at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a big presence on campus with their effective recruitment efforts and dynamic events. Though part of the MEDLIFE community since 2010, the upcoming year is bound to be an exciting one for this Big Ten chapter. Along with growth in membership, UW-Madison is looking forward to working on a large-scale water project for which they are partnered with MEDLIFE and an international corporation.
When and how did your chapter begin?
Wisconsin MEDLIFE began five years ago when Chris McCarthy heard about MEDLIFE from a friend at another school. Since then, we are proud to have grown our chapter to over 70 members strong!
What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus?
We promote MEDLIFE on campus through tabling in high traffic areas on campus, and manning those tables with exec members who can provide students with information about MEDLIFE. Other publicity events include fundraisers and events. Some past fundraisers include an event called “Bucky’s Got Talent”, a campus-wide showcase talent show, our 5k, “Active For Agua” where both students and Madison community members participated in a fundraising event. Other events usually include collaboration with other student orgs. Wisconsin MEDLIFE is part of the Global Health Coalition on campus. This coalition sponsors many health related conferences like Wisconsin “Public Health Week”, where MEDLIFE exec members help plan out the week’s events, bringing in keynote speakers and speaking themselves about the work MEDLIFE does. Next semester, we are hosting either a date auction or fashion show, which will require collaboration across campus.
What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?
The first three weeks of each semester is a prime time for recruitment. We table heavily in dining halls, high traffic buildings, and at the student org fair by having exec members man the tables and provide info about MEDLIFE! One other strategy that we use is an email blast to the whole campus of 42,000 students through an email listserv we obtain from the office of the Registrar. We have also found it effective for members to spread MEDLIFE awareness through word-of-mouth. Many new chapter members are gained by others sharing their experiences they’ve had with the organization. New members are required to do the same things as every other member. Each semester, we ask members to complete seven “points” and pay dues to be in “good standing”. Points are acquired by attending meetings, participating in volunteering events, fundraisers, marketing events, and socials. Dues are either $25 for the academic year, or $15 per semester and both options include a Wisconsin MEDLIFE t-shirt.
What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year?
Wisconsin MEDLIFE organizes chapter socials and volunteering events to keep members engaged throughout the year. Past social events have included campfires at Picnic Point off of Lake Mendota, dinners and ice-skating. Volunteer events have include making food for a soup kitchen, campus clean ups, nature preservation projects, and volunteering at food pantries in the Madison area. We also have made toothbrush packages for donation to MEDLIFE that member bring with them on MEDLIFE trips.
What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?
Our goals for the 2014 and 2015 year include running successful winter and summer clinics, as well as finalizing a partnership with the Coca-Cola Company in developing a clean water project for those in need in Lima. Executive board members Jeremy O’Brien and Aaron Anderson, along with MEDLIFE staff Tim Anson met with Julia Sobrevilla from Coca-Cola PerÃº this past summer. She explained that Coca-Cola has the funds to cover the project we proposed. She threw some more logistics back at us to figure out, and exec members Jeremy O’Brien, Mari Sandoval, and Lauren Gladowski are meeting with her again this January in Lima for the second time. The project calls for purchasing tanques de aguas with filters, and distributing them to communities in need. Since the first meeting with Coca-Cola PerÃº this past summer, Wisconsin MEDLIFE has organized a “Water Project” committee with our members. Tori Charpentier, Development Corps Director at Wisconsin MEDLIFE has been running the committee, and been in contact with MEDLIFE in Lima, fostering grassroots organizing on the community end with Carlos Benavides, MEDLIFE in Peru’s Director. Hopefully this January with the hard work Wisconsin MEDLIFE and staff in Lima has been putting forward, we will finalize the plan and partnership with Coca-Cola.