Gail has been an outspoken advocate and, more importantly active organizer of hundreds of high-profile events and campaigns to promote understanding and action for groups who do not usually have a voice, especially in the world of health. Here are a few samples:
Gail created “FearLess October” which was a 200 part, month long program to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental illness. She enlisted sponsorship by a major psychiatric hospital, but they were joined by a coalition she created of 25 member agencies. In addition to a guide of all of the event components throughout the month, Gail created a directory of services for people seeking help for mental health, by category, and distributed these free throughout the community. The project was the winner of the best education program and the best public awareness campaign that year by the Mental Health Association of Virginia.
Education about People with Disabilities
A division of the department of labor which implements the American’s with Disabilities Act works to employ people with disabilities. They wanted to reach employers in a larger, more non-threatening way. Gail created the Employment Resources Conference which brought together over 300 employers, human resource providers and government agencies. The event included a detailed guide of services for employers as well as a fair in which over 30 exhibitors showcased services for employers
Employment for People with Disabilities
A sheltered workshop which ran a bakery was opening a new deli. Gail set a date for a grand opening and invited elected officials and other people of influence. She designed and sent out postcards inviting existing customers of the bakery to the opening. Then she created a contest for elementary age children to have the opportunity to create a new sandwich. This sandwich would become part of the menu and be named after the student. The contest information ran full page, at no cost, for two weeks in the Junior section of the largest regional daily newspaper. In addition, Gail sent out contest information to all of the public and private schools in the area. The NBC affiliate news station covered the opening throughout the entire morning news. The reporter learned how to make the sandwich from the child live on the air and sampled food from the deli throughout her report. Gail also created a related “work day” in which 30 elected officials and people of influence in the community worked side-by-side with disabled workers at the deli for a couple of hours. The total campaign generated 5 articles in local papers, 7 stories on television news, 5 radio interviews, and over 50 radio promos—all free of charge to the company.
Other examples include:
Adolescent Substance Abuse Programs: Gail created a group home for children of parents of alcoholics and other drug addicts. The home gave an opportunity for single mothers to seek residential rehab treatment without losing their children to the state. The home also ran a summer camp, programs throughout the year, and individual and group therapy.
Job Corps Day: Gail brought 80 students of the Federal Job Corps program- at risk youth who were learning a trade- to use their new knowledge to volunteer at centers for children to upgrade facilities for free. Over $75,000 worth of work was done at locations including: building a playground at a childcare center for economically underprivileged children, upgrading landscaping and play areas at city parks at the Salvation Army, and improving infrastructure at local schools.
Youth Education and Action
Working with the Greater Philadelphia Federation of Settlements, Gail was asked to set up a pilot project for non-violent-juvenile-offenders. Using the youth group model, she worked with a group of boys who ages 14-17 teaching and empowering them to create their own programs for themselves and their peers, including a weekend retreat and programming materials. She also published a manual on the project which was duplicated in other states. During the summer of the test project there was zero recidivism among any of the participants.