Special guest – Rebecca Rothney of Pack for a Purpose

I wrote about Pack for a Purpose when I was in South America.  As part of my research I got in touch with one of it’s founders Rebecca Rothney.  She and her husband Scott established the organization after recognizing community needs in their African travels.  I was really impressed by their idea and curious to hear more about the organization, so I asked her for an interview.  Here’s what she had to say:

You and your husband Scott conceived the idea for Pack for a Purpose on safari.  How did you manage to take it from the light bulb stage to reality?  The idea is deceptively simple, but as you say has a big impact.  I’m curious how you made it happen.

First I discussed the idea with as many friends and acquaintances as possible so I could assess the idea. I received 100% support for the idea. Since my tag line reads “Only spreads sheets on beds, thinks blackberries are for cobblers and believes text is found in a book”, I knew I would need help to make my idea into a website! I contacted generous and highly skilled friends who were willing to donate their time to make Pack for a Purpose a reality. I cannot express enough how important a community of caring friends was to make this happen.

What is the most rewarding thing you’ve donated to date?

While it is always extremely rewarding to see children’s faces light up when they are playing soccer with an actual ball instead of a pile of rags, or using a ruler in a class where there had been none previously, we would have to say that being able to provide a clinic with its first stethoscope gave us a special sense of accomplishment.

How do the kids react to your donations?  When you delivered those first soccer balls were they wary?  Surprised?  Delighted?

Within five minutes of receiving the soccer balls, with their teacher’s permission, they were playing a game on a dirt field with unbridled joy.

You include a card with all donations saying, “This package from _______ was made possible by finding your needs list on the Pack for a Purpose website.  It is our pleasure to be of help.”  This is brilliant because it let’s the people know your donation is designed to fit a specific need.  Whose idea was this?

Once again, it was another fantastic friend, Eric Goldberg, who came up with the idea. We ran into each other while walking the mall on a rainy day. We started discussing the website and Eric asked “How will people know where the supplies are coming from?” “I haven’t thought about that,” was my reply. Eric immediately suggested a printable card and our amazing web designer, Erik Macenas, had it up on the website that evening. My greatest good fortune is having terrific friends.

You publish “success stories” on the website.  Have you found that word of mouth is helping to create a buzz around your efforts?

Word of mouth is certainly helpful as well as articles in blogs like yours. Having people become a fan on Face book, which they can do on our home page, is a great way of assisting with the buzz.

Were you surprised when ABCNews.com contacted you about Pack for a Purpose?  What is your dream interview?

Not really Anne. A dear friend of mine who lives in Italy is actually married to the reporter who wrote the article. I sent her information about the website in progress in September because she had friends in Kenya who run a Camp. I wanted her to let them know about our idea to see if they wanted to have their Camp and Project on our site. I got an immediate email back from her husband Clark who thought it was a wonderful concept and said he would like to do a small story on it. I asked him to wait until the website was actually up which he agreed to do. Having a good idea and connected friends who believe in it is a wonderful combination.  My dream interview is a toss up between Dianne Sawyer and Oprah, but really every interview that helps get the word out is a gift.

Want to know more about Rebecca or Pack for a Purpose?  Visit their website and check out their new brochure.  You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.  Me, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Oprah’s staff picks this up and invites them on to tell their exceptional story.

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