Several Sundays ago, May 20th, I attended the National Stationery Show (post to come soon!) as a guest. I was Gina Mulligan’s guest and it was and she is awesome!
For those of you who haven’t read my blog and don’t know what the big deal is about Gina and I meeting a few weeks ago, let me explain.
My relationship with Gina starts with the social network site Twitter. Yes, Twitter.
I don’t remember the specifics, but I somehow got wind of her and her non-profit Girls Love Mail, an organization seeking handwritten letters for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, via a tweet that I saw and I contacted her immediately. Our brief exchange of tweets led way to longish emails talking about our respective projects and ways we could work together. They also included stories being shared – I shared with her my stories about my grandmother’s death from breast cancer and my father’s recent death and my subsequent dream and business and she shared with me her own story of being diagnosed with cancer and receiving letters as she wrote her book. We were both moved to start a collaboration and well, a relationship was born!
Meeting Gina in person for the Stationery Show was incredible. Prior to last month, Gina and I had only corresponded via email, twitter and mail (she baked cookies and sent me some at Christmas!). While I had no worries about whether we would get along or not upon meeting, I was definitely curious to meet the woman I had spent a few hours corresponding with. We were modern day pen pals! As I knew she would be, Gina turned out to be such an amazing person-kind and goodhearted and as I told her many, times, I thank Twitter for our meeting.
Social media is a great and useful tool, but too often we reach out and talk to people, but don’t make real connections. Meeting Gina was a moment where the power of social media merged with real life. Social media can be a huge soul sucking waste if all you’re doing is looking at people’s profiles instead of living your life, but it can also be an amazing instrument in bridging gaps and spaces that you might have never otherwise known.
See, I had been itching to volunteer with a breast cancer organization that is not the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I’m not badmouthing Komen at all. They are a great organization and have done so much in the fight against breast cancer. In fact, I used to donate and run the Race for the Cure in Washington, DC in honor of my grandmother who passed away from the disease in 1992. I no longer do and it’s not because of the issue they had with Planned Parenthood earlier this year. No, I stopped because I worked for a cancer non-profit in my 20s and I saw the mismanagement of funds and started questioning what would happen if a cure for cancer in general was found. What would organizations like my old employer and Komen would do? They operate like corporations and are constantly after money, so what would their next steps be?
I don’t want anyone to think that I have a distrust for all non-profits, because I don’t. As a matter of fact, between 2006 and 2011, I ran four marathons and raised money for blood cancers through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ‘s Team in Training program, but looked into their spending before committing to raising money. Having relationships with children and adults who have benefited from LLS definitely made that connection stronger and more visible. I know the same can be said for Komen, but something about them and I just didn’t match several years ago and I’ve since moved away from supporting their organization personally.
Having said that, Gina does work with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but her organization does so much more and because of that, I feel like I’m more connected to breast cancer patients and the cause. The letters written to her organization go into the hands of women who need the positive energy that comes from written words and from knowing that someone, a stranger, is supporting them through a tough time in their life. This is why I love Girls Love Mail and why I am so honored to have partnered with Gina when she first started the organization and to have a relationship with her. Her husband, by-the-way, is pretty awesome, too!
Again, I am so grateful to Twitter and for timing being on my side. (I don’t spend all day on Twitter, so having seen the tweet about her was good timing in deed!) I also also grateful to the National Stationery Show for being held in New York City – it brought me and Gina, who lives in California, together for a few days and it was wonderful!
I encourage everyone to sign up to write a letter. The stationery sheet that you can download when you sign up was designed by me specifically for Girls Love Mail.What are you waiting for? Go write a letter! Bring a smile to a woman’s face. I’m sure you’ll be smiling as well.
Oh, and Gina, if you read this post, THANK YOU! You are one rocking woman!