Hurricane Sandy: When Personal Meets Professional

Carmen helping with one of our personal care pack events earlier this fall.

Our wonderful GlaxoSmithKline PULSE volunteer, Carmen Lennon, has been helping our communication efforts during her six month assignment at our Santa Barbara headquarters. Born and raised in Philadelphia, many of her family and close friends have been affected by Hurricane Sandy.  She graciously agreed to share her perspective with us on relief and recovery efforts and its close ties to home. 

In my seven years working at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), I have come to truly believe in our mission to help people ‘Do More, Feel Better and Live Longer.’ Never has that mission been clearer to me than these past few months when I have been on assignment at Direct Relief International as part of GSK’s PULSE volunteer program. Recently, the work of Direct Relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy has made things even more personal for me.

GSK and Direct Relief are the perfect partnership, as Direct Relief’s mission is to improve the health and lives of those impacted by poverty, disaster and civil unrest. Those of you who have read my blogs posts before know that I have sometimes felt removed from GSK’s mission and that being at Direct Relief working on their communications as they have responded to emergencies and disasters across the world has helped inspire and re-energize me.

Carmen (far right) with her family in Philadelphia

This has been particularly true as I watched the news and saw that not only had Hurricane Sandy devastated countries in the Caribbean but it was headed straight for my family and friends back East. For the first time since coming on board at GSK, the office was closed, so I knew things had to be bad. There was no power, no heat, little food, flooding and dangerous roadways. There was nothing I could do but wait by the phone for updates to know that my loved ones were safe.

But out here, Direct Relief was springing into action. They located clinics that needed help and supplies, reached out to corporate sponsors and donors to ask for product donations and cash, and kept people updated with state of the art technology.

They work as a well-oiled machine and to know their efforts were going to help people who live in the places that aren’t just pictures to me but places where I live and have spent time, touched me in a way that I can’t put into words. And through it all my colleagues out here just wanted to know if my mom and the rest of my family were okay.

So thank you, Direct Relief, from me and the people who receive the fruit of your labor. Thank you, GSK, for giving me the opportunity to experience this amazing organization. And thank you to the people who have kept those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in their thoughts and who have donated and spread the word about Direct Relief.

My friends and family are safe and their lives are getting back to normal, but for all of those who weren’t so lucky my thoughts are with you and there are people out here working to get you what you need.

I encourage you to learn more about Direct Relief and their work. They do this every day and not just during disasters. Consider a donation to help them continue their efforts. One hundred percent of donations go directly to those who need it.

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