Hello! My name is Madeleine and I'm the Director of Strategic Partnerships at FIMRC's Headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As part of my role I work with FIMRC Chapters, and each year go on a Chapter Tour to visit as many FIMRC Chapters as possible! This year my colleague, Zane Randell, came along for the majority of the ride to meet with our partners at different institutions. I wanted to share why Chapter Tour is so important to FIMRC, with the good, the bad, and the ugly (truth) about being in a car for one month to visit our biggest FIMRC supporters!
So you thought our FIMRC family was tightly knit? Well we’ve reached a new level. When HQ staff members buckle up for a wild ride across one third of the United States, we try to visit as many chapters as possible. This year we added even more to our agenda by including partnership meetings as part of our trip. It’s always an adventure, being able to visit different states, eat local cuisine, and, of course, meet with different FIMRC chapters.
So. Many. Podcasts. A long road trip offers up a great opportunity to catch-up on your favorite podcast episodes and discover brand news ones! Zane introduced me to several podcasts including Modern Love, The Moth, and Planet Money. Another way to pass time on the road is to invent different games and competitions. For example, we discovered that I’m uniquely incapable of taking pictures of state signs while Zane is a pure pro. Zane is also better at holding his breath under tunnels. Basically, Zane is just better. Finally, the food. Traveling around the U.S. gave us a chance to try many local specialities -- leading to interesting challenges of eating in the car. We tasted a wide-range of local delicacies, from cheese curds to BBQ to boiled peanuts to french fry sandwiches, and even gas station coffee.
Sorry if this is obvious, but it’s the chapters. There is nothing more satisfying than connecting face-to-face with people you email throughout the year and having great conversation. Some meetings (like Harvard, University of Georgia, and Michigan State University) involve Executive Boards where we can discuss planning for the year, what awesome events they’ve already had, and how to support FIMRC’s mission. Some meetings (Notre Dame, Liberty University, and University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign for example) involve presenting to chapter members and sharing how central they are to FIMRC’s success by making an international impact right from their campus. The very best though, is seeing E-Boards that are so passionate that their excitement seeps into chapter members. A feeling of pride exudes from me in seeing the great leadership that takes place. Leaders we met with throughout this chaptership tour are providing meaningful ways to engage their members and truly commit to FIMRC’s efforts (looking at you, UW La Crosse).
The Ugly (Truth)
Late nights and early mornings quickly become tiresome, and it’s impressive how good you become at taking turns napping in the car. There were many cups of not-so-great coffee just to have some caffeine, and I won’t even touch on the fact that not one salad was eaten during Chapter Tour. But no amount of bad coffee can outweigh the amazing experience of meeting with our our partners and chapters in person. The passion we saw for FIMRC’s mission made it all worthwhile and we were honored to see many others out there advocating for what we believe in: access to healthcare for every single person in the world. The month we spend on the road getting people excited about FIMRC is nothing in comparison to the daily efforts of our staff on site or the chapters who help fund Adopt-a-Projects and volunteer at our project sites. I love that we can provide extra support for those who give so much to change lives in the communities where we work. We have advocates throughout the world, and we wish we could visit all the chapters that support FIMRC, but it’s always refreshing to connect with a portion of the people who are passionate about our cause.