Gertrude De Vose

"[We] will be innovative, aggressive and successful in generating revenue to achieve our mission...." These words could be the motto of American Lung Association of Pennsylvania volunteer Gertrude De Vose. This core strategic Lung Association goal has been Gert's creed this past year, as she led the Philadelphia Asthma Walk in the leadership role of Family Team Chair. When Gert took on the role of Family Team Chair, we challenged her to raise $10,000. She accepted the challenge without blinking an eye. Halfway through the season, she increased her goal to $20,000. Gert ended up raising $22,315 for the May 2006 Philadelphia Asthma Walk. Gert led her team to raise more money than any other family team in the country! 

Gert comes from a family of 17 children, a number of whom have suffered with asthma. With tons of siblings, nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews in the South Philadelphia area, Gert has earned the title of "favorite auntie." Gert organizes the family trips, parties and reunions. She is also the home that everyone comes to for Sunday dinners and holidays. In order to reach her aggressive fundraising goal for the Asthma Walk, Gert set out with determination and a plan. She knew she would need a lot of creativity to motivate her huge family to reach her vision. She first organized her own Family Team Steering Committee, made up of a select group of her family members to help with setting goals and decision-making. She introduced the idea of having one fundraising event a month over the course of 8 months. With the help of her committee, Gert organized bowling parties, skating parties, shopping parties, flea markets, barbecues… you name it they did it!

In addition to her monthly events, Gert was hard at work recruiting team members and coaching them to raise money. Her goal was to recruit 35 team members. She called each one and asked about their workplace environment and encouraged them to look into corporate matching gifts. She helped motivate them with fundraising ideas, such as the Dime-A-Day campaign, which her sister ended up launching at her company, asking for daily donations of ten cents from her co-workers. Gert was a constant encouragement to her family and always had a fresh approach or idea to help them meet the challenge at hand. Gert also hit the streets. She went into local restaurants and retail stores asking for sponsorship support, or whistle sales. Whatever anyone was willing to do, she jumped on the opportunity.

As the leader of our Asthma Walk planning committee, Gert helped formulate a new idea for coaching teams. With limited staff resources, the committee heard our concern about how our the Lung Association could manage one-on-one visits and coaching for over 100 Asthma Walk teams. Gert was instrumental in planning and developing a Team Building Night. All the previous year's team captains were invited to attend this night of presentations from the planning committee members, who shared their experiences and successes. The event ended up being very successful and the Lung Association plans to hold it annually to help team captains grow their teams and learn new fundraising and team-building ideas. Gert's job as Family Team Chair for the Asthma Walk was to serve as a "model" team captain, exemplifying what can happen when a volunteer is dedicated and passionate. Gert is a team player. Though she was working devotedly on her own projects, Gert was instrumental in helping other committee members accomplish their own goals. Gert spent a whole week helping one volunteer at a crucial time when she had many of her own deadlines to work on. With Gert's support this volunteer was able to bring her vision to fruition. No job is too small for Gert. Though she was the featured speaker for our Kick-off Luncheon, she also arrived early to help blow up balloons. Though she was leading the start line for the Asthma Walk, she stopped off to pick up 500 pretzels for refreshments early that same morning.

Not only is Gert a successful and amazing fundraiser for the Lung Association, but she also looks to fill any need she can when it comes to furthering our mission in the local community. She is passionate about educating the community about asthma and other lung disease. She has served as a spokesperson for the Lung Association in various venues and public forums. Gert was very involved in our advocacy campaign to help Philadelphia go smoke-free. She testified about the effects of smoke on people with asthma to the Philadelphia City Council and has sent letters to the editors of the local newspapers. With Gert's help the American Lung Association, along with our many coalition partners, succeeded in convincing Philadelphia's local government that our city should be smoke-free. As of January 2007, Philadelphia's smoke-free workplace law will go into effect. Gert gets the Big Picture about developing relationships and resources for the American Lung Association. When the Asthma Walk planning committee determined that we needed more media coverage in order to grow our event Gert utilized her networking skills to reach a reporter on a major local network. He was so impressed with Gert's passion and dedication that he agreed to do a feature story on our event. Gert personally cultivated this relationship so that now this reporter is a friend of the American Lung Association and willing to help in other areas as well. If Gert cannot be present to help with a particular project, she recruits other volunteers who can! Gert recruited her nephew to serve as a camp counselor when we were in dire need of counselors for Asthma Camp. She also recruited help for our Asthma Olympics.

With Gert's leadership, the Philadelphia Asthma Walk continues to be one of the most successful in the country. Without raising money we could not provide the programs, research and advocacy in our community. Gert's family team of 35 people raised 15% of our total funds for the Walk! Of course the money raised is critical to our local mission, but there are other contributions Gert has made that are at least as important as the funds she has raised. As the American Lung Association of  Pennsylvania has gone through several organizational changes in recent years, it has been a challenge for us to find invested volunteers who are really committed to us and our mission locally. Gert has truly invested herself in the work of the American Lung Association. She is not concerned for her own fundraising success as a volunteer, but for the accomplishment of the important work to promote lung health and prevent lung disease in our community. Gert's commitment has inspired others to give of themselves in a similar way. Her passion and dedication has challenged our committee and other volunteers we work with to come alongside her and work for the common cause. Others take note of her dedication, which gives the Lung Association credibility in our community. We are building up the future of the American Lung Association, one committed volunteer at a time. And Gert is helping us forge that path, by setting the example and leading the way for others.