As a Jaycee we are given opportunities to change the world. For some that may sound corny but for us it is reality. Almost daily we are called on by our communities to assist people whether it be with a community garden, training young leaders, providing a Christmas to those who wouldn’t have it otherwise, building the top notch burn center, a public hospital, a recycling plant because our community needs it.
We focus daily on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. We look in our communities and come up with plans through the Active Citizen Framework to build sustainable solutions in our communities and across the world.
When we had an opportunity to work with Nothing But Nets to send bed nets to Africa to help reduce deaths due to malaria, we had long discussions. How was this a USA problem? We don’t have malaria here, do we? We don’t have to worry about getting bitten by a mosquito and catching a deadly disease that could kill us in a matter of days, do we? I mean this is a third world problem, isn’t it?
Let me share some statistics with you; 600,000 cases of malaria were reported last year, with the heaviest amount being in sub-Saharan Africa. Every 60 seconds a child dies from malaria. 1600 cases were brought back to the US this past year. We send our troops, our doctors, our missionaries, our citizens to these countries to work, vacation, volunteer and then they return home. We purchase goods from Africa, which require their citizens to produce them, when people are sick and unable to work, production goes down, which means goods become unavailable to us. In 2012, we imported $49.6 billion in goods from sub-Saharan Africa with the top five being; mineral fuel, precious stones, vehicles, cocoa, and titanium, chromium and uranium. It is very important that we focus on countries that we get resources from and that we send our resources too.
But I don’t want to overwhelm you with statistics, as a number person that is interesting to me but not to some. What I want to do is share a story with you. A story of a mom, who went to a partnership summit, to between you and I meet cool people, tour the Capitol and sit down with her elected officials to discuss important issues to her. Who sit in on meetings and saw a poster of a mom and her son from Africa on one side and a mom and her son from the US on the other side. The words across the bottom said ‘I taught my child to give, so that your child could live’. Powerful words that really touched her deep in her soul. As a mother hearing that a child dies every 60 seconds is unacceptable. Especially when there is a $10 solution that will stop this, when there is 90% success rate for folks who use the bed net, when killing the mosquitoes with the insecticide treated net saves lives, something had to be done.
As the sitting leader of a National organization that had 20,000 young, strong, active voices who believe in thinking globally and working locally, that mother could do something. As a mother of a precocious 9 year old who believed in giving and wanted to make a difference, they could do something. As the wife to an amazing husband, who buys into her crazy ideas, she could do something. So that mother loaded her family in a van, traveled to 17 states visited 85 chapters and held 60 governmental meetings sharing how members of Congress could get involved by continuing to approve funding for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund and joining the Malaria and Tropical Disease Caucus to work toward solutions and education. From discussions in a dark hallway in Taipei to this, that is how #BzzzTour was born.
Because of the great response, BzzzTour 2.0 was discussed and she knew this one had to be bigger because that is how we roll. The goal for this summer is visiting with 100 chapters, hosting 100 meetings with government officials, securing 25 of our members who are interested in being Nothing But Nets champions, sharing our message through advocacy cards to our government officials and raising $100K to send bed nets. Will this be a big undertaking, of course, but we are Jaycees and we would not have it any other way. As the saying goes, we go big or go home!
BzzzTour 2.0 kicked off on June 6th with our first official stop at the McMinnville Jaycees Relay for Life. Here Mozzie walked the track and we shared the story of the importance of Nothing But Nets while not taking away from the cause at hand. I was able to speak on the radio about our organization and our partnership and the importance of Relay as well. It was a great first event and kick-off to our tour. Next up was spending the day with the Shelbyville Jaycees, where we toured the Jack Daniels distillery and the city of Lynchburg, sharing with the members what we were doing and how they can help. Not to mention amazing lunch at Mary Bobo’s and a check presentation from the chapter. Then over to Cookeville for a meet and greet with the Chamber President and the local members. Here we shared how this deadly disease does hit closer to home and what they can do in their community to help. Another check presentation!!! Sunday started with a picnic with the Murfreesboro Jaycees again discussing our goals and sharing our stories. Then off to Camp Discovery where we worked with the Greater Jasper Jaycees talking to the campers and passing out wristbands from Nothing But Nets! What fun!!! Monday was a day full of meetings (six to be exact) with our government officials sharing the importance of participating in the Malaria Caucus and being a part of the World Malaria Day Resolution in the House and Senate side. It was great to discuss with them and share how important this cause is to our members. After we were off to the International Pillow fight with Montgomery County Jaycees. Funds were raised through this fun event to purchase more nets.
After that we headed to Kentucky, there we held five meetings over two days with government officials. Including meeting one for lunch at Wagner’s Pharmacy across from Churchill Downs, what great history and food, yum!!! We made a pit stop at the Bowling Green clubhouse and took in the building and fair office and all it’s history. Then we attended the downtown concert series with the Frankfort Jaycees, who not only had a booth to share info but President Joni got on stage and shared with the hundreds of folks there who the Jaycees are and what we do. We ended our time in Kentucky in Boone County at the Florence Freedom game. Here we got announced that we were in attendance and tried to get ourselves in front of that sportscasters camera. We had the opportunity to visit with members including Past National President Dr. Julie Metzger- Aubuchon and her family.
Now we are in Virginia, where we hosted three meetings today and tomorrow we have an event hosted by the Peninsula Jaycees who have invited the several other chapters in the area and the community to attend. We are super excited what that will bring!!!
As I sit here in my quiet hotel room, listening to the low snores of my boys, I know what we are doing is important. I know being that mom is important. I know being that JCI USA IPP (Immediate Past President) is important. There are people who are counting on us that we don’t even know. People who are hoping what we are doing makes a difference in government funding, in people caring about the cause and in the amount of bed nets they will receive next year. We are counting on our members, current and past to help us achieve that goal. We need all of you to #dreambig, #stompoutmalaria and support @NothingButNets.
Yours in Jaycees,
IPP Chrystal Ramsay-Dyess