In Turn: Ellyse’s OutLook, Part 3

In a series of posts, Ellyse Look shares her journey as an Asian American Donor Program (AADP) intern with us in a series of thoughtful and detailed reflections. It’s a revealing window into the everyday ups and downs and the minutiae of donor recruitment. Her diary is also testament to a truly hands-on experience, and a great example of how AADP empowers their interns with real responsibility and a space to express their views. It’s the new generation’s turn to add their voice to the conversation.

AADP intern Ellyse Look at a drive

Intern Ellyse always makes a good point

August 4, 2012

On Saturday I was at the Santa Clara County Fair. For the first time, I did a drive completely on my own. There were no other recruiters or volunteers. It was a bit tricky since I had to make a few trips to and from the car. Thankfully the other vendors were very understanding and were willing to help. The fair was very slow because the drive was in the morning to early afternoon and people were slowly trickling in during the later part of the afternoon. Since I was in a vendor area, people came to view what was being sold, so I had to reach out to a lot of people from my booth. Most people were not familiar with marrow or stem cell donation, so much of my time was taken explaining the procedures and the purpose of donating. A majority of the time people wanted something free from the table, so I had them take a flyer.

On the bright side, I got to talk to a lot of people and correctly inform them. I also got a few people interested in volunteering with our program or setting up drives because they had a family member or close relative who needed a marrow donation. By the end, I had only single digits of registered individuals with very few flyers and candy to give out. Not one of the most successful drives in terms of numbers, but it was definitely an experience that I can say I did on my own.

San Jose Farmer’s Market, Volunteer Party, and Piedmont House Raffle

Things have been getting really busy here lately. We have a lot more patients with very proactive families. This leads to a lot more drives, which means a lot more planning and coordinating.

This weekend was the AADP Volunteer Party. It was the first time we had an appreciation party for the volunteers while I’ve been an intern and it was great seeing some familiar faces. It was at City Beach in Fremont and I was introduced to bocce ball. I have to say, I’m a pro now! I also got to see some of the former interns and AADP has a great intern legacy that I hope that I’ve contributed to!

Right after the party, I went to help the Executive Director Carol sell raffle tickets at a house showing event. It took place in a fancy neighborhood in Piedmont. The house made me think of a bed and breakfast in Napa, and I expected to walk out the door into a winery. The catering was fabulous and I ended up networking with a lot of bay area residents who were passionate about the cause. I think everyone left pretty happy and relaxed after this event.

The very next morning I helped Thi, an AADP outreach coordinator, with a farmers’ market drive in San Jose. Our expectations were not too high because most people in the morning were focused on getting their fresh produce. However, in the later afternoon people began to warm up to the idea of marrow donation. I think the best part was that we connected a lot with the vendors at the market who were sympathetic to our cause. I think a lot of the vendors hoped to see us every week thereafter because they wanted us to be a regular part of their farmers’ market. It was a nice way to end the weekend.

Fairfield Tomato Festival

This would have been my last week at AADP, but I extended my internship to the end of October. So my mid-internship test was the Fairfield Tomato Festival.

This festival would be a big drive for me because a patient’s family would be there. A bunch of the nurses that were helping the patient would be present too. Not to mention they had been publicizing these festival drive dates heavily by telling as many media sources as possible and had asked most of their Kaiser coworkers to come out this weekend to register. They estimated that the turnout would be approximately 60 people.

Since I was put in charge of this drive I had to arrive very early to check in and set up. Most of the staff and other vendors were very friendly. There was an issue about other vendors taking preassigned spaces, but luckily most vendors were willing to share some space.

It was a very hot weekend and the Fairfield winds did not make it easy to keep our tent up. I must have tied everything down with packing tape or plastic zip ties. Thankfully the nurses and the patient’s family were very proactive at passing out flyers and getting the word out. It seems they were driven to work hard because they had a personal connection and were extremely passionate about helping the patient.

The first day we had a decent amount of traffic. The battle was mostly telling people what our cause was and just informing them of what was going on. The second day was another story. We had a bunch of nurses and their co-workers and family members generating a lot of excitement and commotion at our booth by shouting out “Become a stem cell donor! Help save Kyle’s life!” They basically took up both sides of the walkway, which got the attention of at least 90% of the passers-by. Since many people came to register, it attracted even more people to come over! We ran out of clipboards and places to sit so rapidly that we had to borrow seats of neighboring vendors!

I could really tell by the end of the second drive that the nurses and family members had a feeling of exhilaration and hope. I am so happy we did well for both the patient and for AADP. I think I passed my test.

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