I caved to peer pressure a month ago, agreeing to act as “Ambassador” for The Sanford Annex, (my building/department) in our month-long United Way Campaign. The theme this year is “United, We Are Unstoppable” and UW did a lovely video telling the story of their aim this year, which is to stop homelessness before it starts. If you want to watch it, you can click here.
The video tells the story of a single mom who loses her job and because of that is forced into living in her van with her young son. The boy constantly has with him a toy firetruck symbolizing his dream to grow up and be a fireman. At some point as he grows up homeless, he literally throws away the toy firetruck, meaning he has given up on his dreams. They do a visual rewind, and through help from UW the mom is able to get a job, keep their home, and the boy grows up to be a fireman. (I tear up just writing about it!)
A major factor in agreeing to do this was the fact that due to Covid, the campaign would need to be mostly online, but I needed a way to reach the nearly 200 people in my department, more than half of which are working remotely. I came up with making an Annex centric video with my iPhone that played off of the UW video’s story using the TicTok ‘pass the coffee mug’ meme. If you want to watch this video, click here.
My video starts off with an inspirational message from our department’s leader, then cuts to the same little boy as in the UW video playing with the firetruck. He passes the truck out of frame to his older self (entrusting his dream as he gets older). The older kid tosses it away again, but this time a Sanford/United Way volunteer picks it up, dusts it off, and hands it out of frame to my boss where the kid’s dream turns into word signs using variations on the campaign theme United, We, Are, and Unstoppable. These word signs are passed along out of frame by mask wearing employees to signify, that we are United even though we are distancing. We even through in a bottle of hand sanitizer! I have to say it turned out great, and I’m very proud of it. AND, everyone really enjoyed it.
So, on the heels of the video’s success, “How hard can this Ambassador thing be?” I thought. And with over half of our department working remotely, online is absolutely the best way to reach everyone! I quickly came up with virtual versions of events, and over the past two weeks of October my co-workers and I have enjoyed playing a Virtual Scavenger Hunt, and Virtual BINGO. This week we are running a Virtual Marathon, and next week we will hold a Virtual Silent Auction.
Well, I found out that it isn’t hard, per se. Its just time consuming. Luckily I have a boss who is very supportive of this effort. It helps that Downtown Dad is the overall Sanford Campaign coordinator, and that the community outreach people from United Way are friends, so I get a lot of encouragement!
I want to keep the pieces and parts of this campaign here as an archive to refer to later if I need to. I’ve even sent my kickoff email to another department’s ambassador so she can use some of what we’ve done. It will be interesting to see how much she understands, and can modify to use in a different setting!
United Way is such a great organization. I’m very happy that I caved to the pressure. It has been a great experience bringing our employees together, having fun, and raising awareness and money for this great cause!