My name is Mia and I am a 28 year old Rhode Islander. I grew up here, graduated from high school here, and received my college degree here. I live in the heart of Providence, which I love, but sometimes it feels a bit small and stale. Lately I have been getting an itch to travel, experience new things, and explore new places. Visiting Jacmel, Haiti with the Random Acts team helped me accomplish all three. I love immersing myself in different cultures and learning as much as I can about those cultures. I also love meeting new people and making new friends. Knowing that we have touched the lives of the citizens of Jacmel, young and old, is deeply gratifying and humbling at the same time. Seeing smiles light up the faces of children is a feeling that cannot be duplicated by any other experience. I can’t wait to go back!
Meet Mia Shaffer
Where are you from?
What made you want to go to Haiti?
In the past, opportunities for charity work were everywhere, but I never took advantage of one. I have always been interested in doing something like this, but I have never followed through on actually doing the hands on work. At this point in my life, I have the flexibility to make this trip happen so I figured now is the time to DO IT. I want to help everyone everywhere, but it’s hard to believe that one person can make a difference. After seeing the work RA did last summer in Haiti and all of the crazy support it received, I know that one person can make a big difference.
I initially began raising money figuring I could never reach $5,000. But I thought, hey if I can raise ANY money for this cause, why not? The donations came in one after another after another and they weren’t stopping. Before I knew it, I was more than halfway to my goal and I had to really think about if this was something I thought I could do. I am so excited (and a little nervous) to travel, lend a hand, and meet some amazing people along the way.
What are you hoping to take away from this experience?
I am hoping this experience changes me for the better, and I really think it will. Rarely do people get the opportunity to share in such different cultures, and to REALLY help. I am also hoping (and expecting) this experience will further open my mind. I am eager to see and learn about a culture so different than what is familiar to me and to connect with new people. I hope to make new lifelong friends, too!
How did you approach the task of raising $5,000 in donations?
For me, raising the money had no rhyme or reason to it. I joined Crowdrise expecting to raise MAYBE $1,000 or so. I sent out an email blast and the donations began to trickle in. I also mentioned it any chance I could get just so people would know. I approached people I know who have their own businesses, as well as anyone I knew that had some pull in bigger businesses. Speed was my main concern, so smaller businesses were my best bet. A friend of mine, a local business owner, is hosting a fundraiser to help with the travel. I also focused on those I knew who I felt were more likely to donate, like someone who has done work like this before, or someone who has been to Haiti before. I was extremely lucky to make the connections I made. Lucky isn’t even the word to describe it. It all happened so fast and then before I knew it, I reached the goal!
What are a few of your best fundraising tips?
Go right at them. You have to be direct. I struggled for 2 weeks in asking someone I know if his company would like to donate. I was scared that he’d think I was just hitting him up for money. FINALLY I just came out and said it. He couldn’t have been happier to help because HIS company went to Haiti last summer and built a school! You just never know what kinds of connections people have with your cause. Also, offer as much information about the trip as possible. People feel more comfortable parting with money when they know exactly where it’s going and what it will be used for. People like to know they are doing their part by donating, but they like it even more when they know their money is going to a specific need.
Can you offer any words of encouragement to those still working towards their fundraising goal?
Please don’t give up! You can do it! I never thought I’d make it this far. Don’t underestimate people’s generosity and willingness to help, especially when they hear that YOU personally will be going on the trip.