#OHBlogging Volunteer Night at #MedWish

Last Tuesday I was given the wonderful opportunity to learn about a local organization changing saving many lives and improving the quality of life for everyone. MedWish International is located in Cleveland, less than an hour drive from where I live. Tucked away in a building complex shared with the Cleveland Clinic, those simply driving by may never know the magic they are passing.

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Photo respectfully borrowed from Poise in Parma

Luckily the Ohio Blogging Association was given the chance to learn about the organization and volunteer.  So along with the following people I now know about the magic.

I know a lot of write-ups focus on official stats and press releases, I have even written this way before. Not this time. Over the past week I have told nearly everyone I come in contact with about the volunteer night.  While I may not be a memorized the sales pitch, I think my fascination and passion are more than any marketing campaign can provide. However, I will share from their website, the official mission statement, value statement and core values.

Mission Statement

MedWish International is a not-for-profit organization committed to repurposing medical supplies and equipment discarded by the healthcare industry with the objectives of providing humanitarian aid in developing countries to save lives andreducing waste to save our environment.

Value Statement

MedWish International provides donated medical supplies to individuals and organizations dedicated to providing care that directly lessens the burden of suffering people in under-served areas regardless of religious or political affiliation. Medical supplies and equipment provided by MedWish International may not be sold.

Core Values

MedWish will conduct itself adhering to the following core values:

  • Humanitarian Focus – we are dedicated to providing medical aid to lessen the burden of suffering people regardless of religious or political affiliation.
  • Environmental Consciousness – we will look for every opportunity to recover, recycle and redistribute all in-kind donations.
  • Community Benefit – we give back to the community through the use of local services, employment and partnerships.
  • Integrity – we will “do the right thing” operationally, financially and socially.
  • Respect for Our Employees, Volunteers and Partners – we will support an environment of respect, collaboration and safety.

We began our evening after introductions with a tour of the facility. We stopped in a beautifully painted hallway highlighting the many areas of the world MedWish has provided supplies. One of our tour guides told a story about one of the founders (I believe) who witnessed (or heard about?) a young woman who was in an accident. The medical staff was able to stabilize her and it seemed with proper care she would pull through. Unfortunately, there was a tube missing from the ventilator and it would have been impossible to get one in time. A piece of equipment probably tosses aside in excess countless times from our programs, could have saved this woman’s life.

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Needless to say this impacted me. Especially since I spent the day in the ER only 2 hours before arriving on site. A story for another day. We continued to walk through and saw where deliveries are dropped off, various sorting stations, and racks with prepared equipment ready to move on to their new homes.

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If you have only skimmed so far, let me break it down to you how this program works. In a standard hospital lots of things come in kits. When you go for a gallbladder removal, or heart procedure or whatever the tools come in a large kit where everything in wrapped on its own and then sealed together for easy grab-an-go access. When the “heart kit” for example is opened maybe only 3 of the 10 tools are used. What happens the other other 7? Despite being individually wrapped, they are no longer considered sterile. It is cheaper to throw them out then it is to put them through a re-sterilization process. (UNBELIEVABLE!)

MedWish collects these items and sends them to other countries where such supplies may not normally be available. Those who receive the supplies are aware they items may or may not be sealed in a protective way. Sometimes where they go there is no electricity or running water. Our standards can’t be pushed onto them, as difficult as it may be to accept. IMHO I’d rather them attempt to do some good with a tool boiled to clean it, then to not have the tool at all.

What about expired items? Well, if MedWish finds items no longer safe for use with humans there are two possible alternatives. First, the items may be donated to another agency with non-human functions. Rubber gloves may be “expired” based on their casing, but they’re still safe to use for clean up. Those may find a home at a local animal shelter. There’s also the option for the public to come and claim supplies. As long as you agree the use is non-human and non-medical. MedWish has had Girl Scout troops collect items to be used in art projects.

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Can you even grasp the social, economic and environmental impact?

How are recipients chosen? Well, good question. MedWish works solely on a process of having people ask for their help. They do not partner with anyone exclusively and they do not seek out recipients. In their minds it doesn’t do any good to send 10 new ultrasound machines to a hospital without working power, right? Also, they don’t pay for these items as they’ve all been donated. The only cost is to pay for shipping. We were told a story where one hospital received a package they paid $40 in shipping coats to receive. When they itemized the contents it would have normally cost $27,000. Try to wrap your head around that information.

What did OBA do to help? We put together medical kits. Our small, but might force formed an assembly line and built “medical burritos”.  Well, we called them medical burritos due to the way they were wrapped. Really they were standard medical kits. Inside were gauze patches, tweezers, various sized/shape scissors, cleaning treatments and other things.

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We were very proud of our contributions and I know personally, it feels great to give back. This was an organization where I can’t imagine anyone having an issue with what they do or who they help. I have every intention of following up and returning to volunteer on my own. Any locals want to coordinate with me and go together?

Need more information on MedWish? Check them out on Facebook and on Twitter. Also, their big Band Aid Bash is coming up on Saturday, April 27 at the non-profit’s warehouse.

What’s the next Ohio Blogging Association meetup? I’m glad you asked. RSVP by April 8 at the Facebook event page for our meetup at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday, April 17. Learn all about the Last days of Pompeii. Bloggers, blog readers, tweeters… everyone is invited!

OBA supports the Underdog

Last Thursday night I attended the August edition of OBA meetup. (Ohio Blogging Association). We headed up to Cleveland to checkout the ever so delightful Happy Dog restaurant and conduct a blogger’s roundtable in the “basement” aka the lower level known as the Underdog.

The roundtable was set up by the mastermind of OBA, Alicia of Poise in Parma, who will be speaking at FitBloggin‘ in September on the concept of taking your online community offline. I attended not only to see some of my friends and fellow bloggers, but because I have the great privilege of liveblogging from FitBloggin’ at Alicia’s topic and I was hoping to get an insider’s preview before the big event!

Mostly Alicia asked various questions about our motivation for starting a blog, how we keep up with it, which tools of social media are we most comfortable with (especially with an emphasis on safety) and probably the big question of the night : Why attend an offline function as your online self?

One thing many people pointed out is this misconception of bloggers being antisocial or holed up in a room trying to create or promote controversy. Many of us began our journey as an exploration of self or as a way to reach out to others on a topic or experience where we felt alone when faced with immediate resources.

For me: I began ROJ Running as a way to document my journey to becoming a marathoner. At the time it was a scary and overwhelming process and one I did not take lightly. Most of my area runner friends were faster or more competitive than me and I needed a community where slower did not me “There’s time to improve”, but instead meant “You’re still having just as much fun”. Anyone who continues to read 3+ years later knows little has changed in that realm. Ha ha. My motivation to continue blogging? Not only the community I find myself a part of, but also it is my mental health and “me” time. My job can be very emotionally demanding, and sometimes I need an activity where it’s only me and my little piece of the world. Plus, I love to write and be creative.

Fellow Bloggers in attendance:

Now obviously the night was about more than talking! It was also about eating!

The Underdog has the same food menu as the main Happy Dog upstairs, but also features old movies*, old cartoons* and several fun arcade type machines and a shuffle board. *I reserve the right to not be yelled at for what I deem “old”.

To order food you grab a tear off sheet and start marking your choices. One starts with an all beef or “veggie” dog and adds all the toppings your heart desires. I was put off by the price ($5.00) because let’s admit it, that’s high for a dog! I’m not a food snob, I am picky. I think all hotdogs taste the same. Plus, I wasn’t all about the many and varied options. Most were spicy, or had some weird fruit base. See why this isn’t a foodie blog? There was a momentary panic when I thought I was told everything was cooked with vegetable oil (shouldn’t/can’t eat it) but as luck would have it the main dogs were canola, the day was saved! Food allergies doesn’t mean I have to be healthy.

What’s on that creation? The dog, then baked beans, bacon, egg, and nacho cheese. Yum yum. Although everyone else got in on the fries or tots and tons of sauces, I had to pass, the fries were in the v-oil. Look how fun it seems though!

All in all it was another awesome night with an awesome group. I always enjoy hanging out with people who appreciate my special relationship with my phone and apps and all things social media.

Want to join in on the fun next month? We’re headed to an Indian’s game! GO TRIBE! Join us for a happy hour gathering before (somewhere on/near East 4th – suggestions are welcome!) or meet us up at the game. Details are over at the Facebook event page with more details coming soon!

OBA Goes Backstage at PlayhouseSquare

Last Wednesday evening I had the great pleasure of taking a tour of several theaters of PlayhouseSquare. As a member of the Ohio Blogging Association, I join various other friends each month for a little “off-line” socialization. Past meet ups have included a pizza night at Whole Foods, volunteering at The Cleveland FoodBank and taking a biking tour of Cleveland.  This month PlayhouseSquare and the Partners organization were kind enough to offer us a behind-the-scenes look into one of my favorite places to go and pretend to be high society. It also takes me back to high school when I would anxiously await performance after performance and felt alive out on the stage.

At the start of the tour, background was given on the main theater, the Palace Theater. Much of what you see is the original look, and we were shown where people would exit their carriages and “new-age horseless carriages” in order to attend performances. I took a moment to imagine living in a time when places like this were uncommon and taking in the beauty of my surroundings.

Highlights of this part of the tour (for me) were hearing about the club area in the basement. Apparently back in the day it was quite the place to hang out. There were laundry facilities complete with a dryer room! We may think this is simple and silly now, but in those times when traveling, people often had to pack and travel with wet garments or simply avoid washing items at all. The Palace had a room where clothing could be hung and continuous hot air was pumped through. How amazing?!

Sadly, much of the art was lost, and it is unknown how or when or where, but the beauty and splendor remain nearly 100 years later. Did you know Playhouse Square is one of the largest theater renovation and restoration projects?

We went backstage and looked out into the empty audience. Many commented on how scary it would be to perform.  I felt a twinge in my heart when I realized how comfortable I felt and how much I missed it all.

As much as I miss performing, I also miss backstage duties and as we learned about flies and mice I glanced around and noticed playbills affixed to the walls. This brought an even bigger smile to my face as teenage me felt our behaviors on the high school stage were some how validated by knowing professionals do the same things.

After the Palace we made our way over to the State Theater. IMO this theater was very similar except for being smaller. However, later research would reveal this isn’t the case at all. The Palace seats 2800 and the State seats 3200. The State also is the theater for shows like The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera. On the way we stopped in the dressing rooms, where I paused to pretend to get ready for my big night.

One unique aspect of the the State Theater is having “the world’s longest lobby” complete with murals painted by a then not so famous James Daugherty.

Other theaters we saw where the Ohio and Allen. The Ohio theater did not have seats as it was being renovated. I did find myself partial to the ceiling in the actual theater and the twinkling ceiling and statues in the hallway.

The Allen is a smaller stage, but had the most gorgeous lobby scenery and had such a charming history.

The Allen was never meant for stage performance, it was a silent movie theater. Behind the newly installed modern walls, you can see the light boxes (or whatever they’re called) where colors of yellow or red or blue would be cast to help set the mood of what was being seen. Up above original paintings were unpredictably uncovered during renovations and of course I’m a sucker for anything that reminds me of Greek and Romanesque art.

After the tour most went over to Alex’s for free drinks and food. I forgot I had a free drink coupon and could not afford the food, so I had good company instead. Actually I had REALLY good company, because I learned Lyn and I are probably flying to FitBloggin’ at the same time and on the same flight and she is amazing because she is going to give me a ride from the airport, since she’s meeting family when we arrive. Score for having friends and saving money. Heads up, none of the people below are me or were the people I was sitting with, but I loved this candid shot of bloggers being real.

Now for the official business of personal links and the 411 on future events.

Fellow OBA members in attendance include:

If you are interested in joining PlayhouseSquare Partners or need more information, Amanda at Clue Into Cleveland is happy to answer any questions. Her email is clueintocleveland@gmail.com.

The Partners are hosting a VP Night at the Cinema for the sing-a-long showing of West Side Story on Thursday, August 2nd. The Pre-Movie Party starts at 6:00PM, the movie showing is at 7:30PM Admission is free, but tickets are required. For tickets, please call Sarah at 216.640.8408.

Please join us on Thursday, August 16th at The Happy Dog for our next Ohio Blogging Association meetup. RSVP at the Facebook page today: https://www.facebook.com/events/442929549059947/