Mary Bersot, MedShare Trustee and Western Regional Council Chair, was recently named a top-three finalist in the “Volunteer of the Year” category of the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews. As part of this honor, she traveled to New York on September 14 to attend the group’s fifth annual awards ceremony, and had the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ bell the following morning.
Mary has been involved with MedShare since 2008, when we expanded to Northern California. Her leadership and fundraising efforts were instrumental in making this expansion successful during a recession, and she continues to build community awareness of our mission to responsibly recover and redistribute surplus medical supplies to those in need around the world.
We’re thrilled to share Mary’s account of this incredible honor and trip, in her own words:
“It isn’t often that an individual can take the spotlight and represent an organization such as MedShare in front of 600+ people, and then in Times Square. I recently had that privilege, however, when I was selected as a finalist for the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by Invest in Others and InvestmentNews in the Volunteer of the Year category. Clearly, it wasn’t me that was nominated. It was MedShare, and I was honored to represent this incredible organization.
First, I didn’t expect to be one of the three finalists and was surprised and honored to be included. On September 14th, my husband and I went to New York for the Invest in Others’ fifth annual awards ceremony to honor financial advisors who make a difference in their communities. We were also invited to ring the opening NASDAQ bell the following morning with the other finalists and sponsors. I have been in the investment business over 30 years and my dream has been to ring the bell and launch another trading session; I had no idea that I would feel such emotion and pride at being part of MedShare.
Upon entering the dining room the night of the awards ceremony, I was in awe when I saw the photo of the recipient country flags on the wall of MedShare’s Western Distribution Center on the main screen. This photo was chosen as part of the colorful backdrop as we met the other finalists, and I couldn’t help but recognize the sharp contrast between the lavish ceremony and the folks we serve both at home and abroad who couldn’t imagine such a fine event. Those flags helped me stay focused on why I was there.
I am just as happy making labels for the boxes of supplies bound for Haiti as I am taking a bow in front of 660 people. What those attending the reception didn’t see were the thousands of volunteers and staff behind the scenes that have made it possible to ship over 700 forty-foot containers full of much needed medical supplies to countries around the globe. One person can’t possibly take credit – it’s truly a collective effort. The contribution MedShare makes to global health is enormous, and as the story was told throughout the event more and more people expressed a genuine interest.
It was overwhelming to think that I was recognized by my peers at the event, and the next morning I found myself as excited as a kid entering Disneyland when I walked onto the NASDAQ set. I didn’t really care if the market was opening higher or lower – I was just excited to be there. We had our individual photos taken at the podium, which were then projected outside on the 3 story NASDAQ tower in Times Square. We rang the bell as a group and went outside, where we had our photos taken again. I had no idea that behind me would be MedShare’s logo projected two stories high for all of Times Square to see! I felt such pride and excitement. Now I know what it means when someone mentions their fifteen minutes of fame!
I am proud to be part of an industry that gives back and to have had the opportunity to share the MedShare story with the many remarkable people I met. My hope is that the recognition MedShare received those two days continues forward so many, many more lives can be saved.”
-Mary Bersot, MedShare Trustee and Western Regional Council Chair
This article is an excerpt from our October e-newsletter. For more – including a letter from CEO Meridith Rentz, our Clinton Global Initiative Commitment with icddr,b and Americares to strengthen health systems in Bangladesh, and how to get your family and friends involved – click here.