Today, I was talking to Senora about Operation Luna. We gave her all of the bags for the shelter in Tijuana back in December, yet she hasn’t had a chance to deliver them, and we have been worried about the possibility of having the bags confiscated at the border. So, today we talked about other organizations that already bring donations to Tijuana to bring our materials with them as well. Senora told me that she has a date set for Spring Break to either bring the bags on her own, or if she hears back from the organizations, she will give the donations to them instead. Either way, I will just be happy for the victims of the hurricane to receive the donations and have to worry slightly less about their feminine hygiene problems. Honestly, looking back, I cannot believe how far this project has come. I had no idea we would have so much success, and that we would be able to extend the project to a global issue. I have learned to take pride in my actions, yet at the same time be modest and be okay with making a difference without seeing the change, so the benefit is purely for others and no self-reward. I have tried to be more selfless and to continue to uphold my values or caring for and helping others.
I took a couple hours of texting back and forth to finally plan a project and meeting place, but we eventually decided on sewing pillows for women with breast cancer, and I volunteered my club house as a place to meet. Yesterday, as a side service project, I met with 3 other girls in the National Honors Society Club to start our project, making pillows for women with breast cancer. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed, as I had only sewn a couple of times when I was younger, but one of the girls went through the steps to make the pillow with us. First, we had to cut the cloth into somewhat of a heart shape, then cut that in half so the pieces matched to be sewn together. Then, we sewed the pieces together, turned them inside out to hide the thread, then left a little space open to stuff them and then sew them closed. In the 2 hours, each of us was able to make two. I found that by my second one, I was starting to get into it more and get better at making the stitches smaller and tighter. I hope that next time we meet, in a week or two, I will be able to improve my skills even more and enhance my creative side. Again, this is an activity in which I won’t be able to see the results of the product given to the women, yet I hope I can make their daily life slightly easier.
As I mentioned last week, I thought of the idea to take Operation Luna to CSF, yet Bella didn’t want to because she thought we would have enough already. We have a CSF meeting coming up, so I decided to text both Michelle and Bella again to ask if they wanted to do the drive through CSF, and added that I think any extra supplies can help. Michelle said it was a good idea, yet Bella still never gave a clear answer, hinting at waiting. I think it is weird that she wanted to do it through ASB but not CSF, just anyway to get supplies since we couldn’t do it through ASB. I had written an email to Mrs. Heydenrych, the CSF advisor, about the CSF meeting and topics I wanted to cover during the meeting, but I was waiting to see if Bella agreed before including the idea about Operation Luna as the first semester service project. She said that she would ask Mrs. Heydenrych at the meeting about it, but I had already told her that I needed to talk to Mrs. Heydenrych beforehand and plan the meeting. So, now that she seemed like she agreed as she was willing to talk about it, I decided to send my email. It was very weird though, because Bella then said she was sending an email as well. I thought this was very unnecessary, and just showed that she wants control and won’t trust others to handle tasks along the way. Seeing this, I again resolved to make sure I never make others feel this way, I want to show my trust in others and let them voice their opinion. When she gave us the page of our “job description,” I said great thanks, and I said maybe we can discuss this at our next meeting and make sure we all agree everything is equal and we all know what jobs we have. But, surprisingly, she shut me down, wouldn’t hear my opinion, and wanted it left exactly as she made it. Later today, after I looked over the descriptions, I felt like my role should include emailing companies to ask for discounts and finding the best companies and deals, and Michelle felt like she should also be handling media and more communication. Yet, Bella won’t let us discuss. Once again, I am learning from others on how to make myself a better person. I want to just try to keep working together and work through being treated poorly, since this project is important.
Today we met at Barney and Barney again for a quick meeting. Tracy first told us about softcup, which is disposable and softer and may be a better option for many women. But then Bella started talking about a phone call she made, that I found really weird because Michelle and I didn’t know that she made it or what was happening. I was really confused in the meeting because, I personally share everything that I do and I find it really important to communicate what we are doing and information we find. As she started talking about WTLC and calls she made, I was trying to get the information she said was on the calls, but at the same time she was going back and forth between calls and I was trying to process what she was talking about. I got some of the information, that certain companies only accept certain items, but I was still so lost and when I asked her about the calls after she said she didn’t take notes and they didn’t really say anything on the calls so I still feel like I am missing information. We also talked about researching more news outlets, similar to the San Clemente Times, so we can try and get the word out about our distribution. We decided that our goal for the first distribution would be for the beginning of October, so we need to set a date for a school drive and to try and find more ways to raise money. The Lake Forest Shop and Dine is another option for fundraising we talked about, either putting a box outside for people to donate as Michelle suggested, or I also thought we could put flyers in the packets everyone receives. Bella also mentioned at this point that when she talked to Mariposa they said we could go through them to do fundraisers at grocery stores, as we need to be a nonprofit in order to have a fundraiser through a grocery store. When Bella told us this, we started talking about how we could use the nonprofit status of Mariposa to gain leverage and help get other donations. So, we established that we will have three distribution sites: Laura’s House, Women Helping Women, and WTLC, with a goal of 25 bags per site for the first distribution. We might also base the bag amounts on the shelter’s popularity, since WTLC may need more than Laura’s House sice it is less well-known. Now that we have the distribution sites finalized, we can confirm with divacup this information, and set up a conference using the conference system at Barney and Barney.
Tracy said we could split up certain roles, and I was happy she brought it up and she could help with this as we have had many problems so far. Right after I thought everything was going perfectly after the last meeting and we were working together so well, Bella asked to have a meeting. To summarize, she expressed again how she wanted to be the sole leader of the project and how she was worried what would happen if we both/all wrote about the same project on our college apps. After mentioned that I am genuinely interested in this project and I want to see it through and possibly turn it into a business then she was a bit more settled with it, but there were many more texts and hours spent trying to find a solution. In the end, I compromised because I wanted everything to work out well and to find a solution, so I said that I would support her in the project and let her take more of a leadership role. I think that by doing this project we are all leaders and it is our project, as we have all worked together all summer and we all wanted to start the project together after talking to Mrs. Farmer. So when Tracy started talking about splitting up the roles, I really didn’t know what to think at first, as I didn’t think Bella would be okay with it and I didn’t want to confirm anything with Tracy before ensuring Bella wanted to split up the roles. We ended up setting roles, that Michelle would be social media, Bella distribution, and I would be financial, with the thought that we could each have an adviser of the three of them. We also discussed that Michelle and I switch because she had a lot of experience in financial and I had already performed a lot of work in social media. Throughout the whole project, Michelle and I have been on the same page pretty much, yet it is so hard for all three of us to fully communicate. Seeing how others lead and control, it makes me think back to what we talked about at the IB conference, how a true leader shows confidence in others work and tries to find solutions. I just want to make myself a better leader by learning from this experience and seeing how others lead. I try to let others voice their opinions, let them know I trust their work, communicate, and share everything I am doing.
After the meeting, I texted Michelle to see if we could switch as we had talked about. I was really interested in the social media and communications aspect, as I had already been posting on Instagram, following other accounts, liking posts, and emailing news outlets, and I want to get the word out. Michelle told me that she was also interested in social media and didn’t want to switch as she has done a lot with financial work through high school and she wanted to try something new. At this, I first tried to find a way that we could both do social media, she would handle the social media and I would handle contacting news outlets, and then we both work on parts of the financial aspects. We both realized though that we need separate projects and that they would have to be assigned so we could work on them with distinct jobs. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I was ready to sacrifice the social media job, when Bella called. She helped me to finalize my decision and made me more confident in choosing the financial aspect, so I texted Michelle and we worked it out. I think it will be a great experience, as I have never really worked with this type of project before. I will be figuring out the best deals and how to allocate our money, managing the bank account, the gofundme, and figuring out what we need to buy and how much of it for each bag and company. Although there is a lot of work ahead, I am excited for another learning experience and that Michelle and I were able to work this out together. I am just going to try to make the best of it, learn everything I can, and have a great experience.
As we figured out the situation with splitting pur roles, we also started to talk about the school drive. When it was brought up during the meeting, Michelle and I were both worried because we had been planning and working on a drive for Operation Refugee Child during the first week of school. We think that it will be too much to ask people to bring items two weeks in a row, and it is a lot to ask Mr. Nguyen. So later, when we began to talk about sending emails to Mr. Nguyen I was still worried, and as I thought about it more I came up with another way we could do the drive. I am the CSF president so I have wanted to organize a drive or project for CSF and suddenly it clicked. We could do the Operation Luna drive through CSF. I was so excited, it would help solve so many of the original problems I mentioned: we wouldn’t overload Mr. Nguyen, we could get more support as people don’t listen to the announcements, it would be different than the drive that just happened so it wouldn’t be too much overload, and it could be the project I have been looking for. I immediately texted Bella and Michelle, as I didn’t find any downsides. Bella was worried that we aren’t allowed to go through any other organization for a CAS project, so we figured we should ask Mrs. Farmer before deciding. Once we hear back I hope that Bella is still on board with the idea then I can pass it by the CSF coordinator, Mrs. Heydenrych.
Today, Tuesday August 9th, Bella, Michelle, and I presented to the Barney and Barney office. To prepare, we met, skyped, and edited the power point. Last night, Bella, Michelle and I skyped for about an hour and a half to practice our presentation. We went through it a couple times: changing some weird wording, and splitting the talking and moving pieces of information around. We had met an hour before we went around at the Spectrum for Operation Refugee Child last week to split up our parts, yet we got so much more done today. Bella and I skyped for about 20 minutes while I was at my dad’s office (after running) and we edited the power point: with some wording, order, and design changes, then later we all skyped to go over everything and practice. We were able to add our new logo that Michelle’s sister made, a pink moon with Luna written in cursive over it (we all loved it). I also typed up a draft of what I was planning on saying, shown below:
All the practice from MUN and numerous school presentations paid off. For the first 45 minutes, Barney and Barney presented about their company history, then the donation recipients, Assistance league and Marisco, presented. As they finished, and Tracy started to introduce us, I started to get nervous for the first time, and I was worried what everyone would think about this topic and how they would be able to handle it. As Bella started to introduce us I got more comfortable seeing how attentive the audience was, and then I began to speak. Bella spoke first about how Mrs. Farmer inspired us, then I talked about our mission, then Michelle about businesses we’ve contacted and things to keep in mind, Bella about actions we’ve taken so far, then I talked about how everyone there can help, and Michelle finished it with our social media links. I think it was also interesting to be part of a business and to hear everything their business is doing, all of the charitable causes, and what they do as a company. The Barney and Barney company size significantly increased over the years and it was interesting to hear their story. They donate to eight causes a year, giving $1000 to each one, and they hold a golf tournament and other events to help raise money. Although I don’t think I am going to major in business I think it will be great to be a part of a team and to work together, yet also to volunteer and contribute to the community. One thing that one women mentioned stuck with me, that we know that we have a responsibility to our community and we need to give back and empower others, that I feel perfectly summed up my feelings with this project. Besides making sure every human has basic necessities, I do feel empowerment, contribution, and leadership in a community are so important. I loved the warm feeling they gave us, and how they gave us their full attention, asked questions, then afterward so many of them wanted to help us and kept offering their services.
At this point, it is amazing to see how we are all working together and we have gotten through some difficulties we had in the very beginning with working as a team. I was also amazed at the reactions and the support we received, as Kay from Assistance League offered us bags, and from Marisco offered us connections and to help us find ways to raise money and possibly become a business. The head of all the Barney and Barneys, Mrs. Lieberman, even handed us $100 cash afterward and was tearing up. I was surprised that everyone was comfortable with our topic, and even laughed at our introduction comic.
After we headed straight to the union bank to deposit the cash, which brings me to another point. Tracy, Stacy, and Chelsea have been helping us so much and giving us so much of their time. Not only do they meet with us, but they do so much work behind the scenes. They have been promoting us on social media, organizing in their office, setting us up to present to their office, making a flyer, and they went around to multiple banks in order to set up a bank account for us (after our gofundme scare).
After the meeting, we sent emails to both Assistance League and Marisco. Bella wrote first drafts then we helped her edit and add to it. To the Marisco email, I thought she should add to ask for any ideas she has for starting a business/nonprofit or for ideas the project, for any connections she mentioned earlier, ideas on how to raise money, as she mentioned we could have the women design bags then sell them for revenue and to set up a meeting. I also thought we should add that we met them at Barney and Barney.
A few weeks ago, when I was talking to my English teacher, Mrs. Farmer, and my friends, Michelle and Bella, Mrs. Farmer told us that women in shelters and prisons don’t have access to basic hygiene products. All three of us were immediately appalled and wanted to change this horrific fact. I believe that women and men should always have access to the basic, necessary feminine hygiene products, and no matter what ethnicity or background, they deserve to be treated equally. It is terrible that they have to suffer and without these basic products. I also read about other issues in which the government was debating whether or not to put a tax on basic feminine products, that I believe are needed just as much as toothbrushes and products we use everyday. I was already very aware and interested in this issue, so Mrs. Farmer’s additional news created an ever greater need to act.
So, we created “Project Luna.” We decided on “Luna” because the moon has a 28 day cycle just as women do. We hope to fill and distribute 500 bags to women in need. Mrs. Farmer recommended that we meet with her friends, who are also support this cause. So far, we have gathered information on a variety of companies, including LunaPads, Playtex, Kotex, SheThinx, and Always, and we started to draft emails that we will send to businesses to ask for support and donations. When I was working on finding this information today (Saturday June 11), I found that it was really hard to find the contact information, and that many companies just have a form to fill out on their website. We have a meeting on Tuesday, June 14th, in which we will share our draft emails and solidify details and progress.