February 17, 2012

Manuela: CARES´ Social Media Maven

Manuela in 2009
I write this blog with much pride, as it is in honor of a longtime volunteer, friend and colleague, Manuela.  The two of us first met via computer, as so many activists do.  We shared a passion for helping animals.   

When Manuela wanted to memorialize the loss of a puppy, she asked Heather Mansfield, then, the Nonprofit Community Manager of change.org, for advice.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Heather for suggesting that Manuela raise funds in memory of Lua the puppy for Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety, better known as Amazon CARES.

I wrote about Manuela previously, and you can read the blog here.  Manuela started her personal fundraising page for Amazon CARES on May 13th, 2009.  It happened to be my Birthday, and I am grateful every day that I learned of this extraordinary woman and thus received the greatest Birthday present a person could ever wish to receive....Her wonderful friendship.

Manuela in 2011 with Marilyn, a rescue dog from peru
Manuela involves herself in many wonderful causes, and she was named “Changemaker of the Year” by change.org.  When I needed help with Facebook,  Heather suggested Manuela, and to my complete surprise, Manuela accepted.  She dedicated herself to this volunteer task is if it were a paid position!  She deserves many accolades.  Instead, Amazon CARES has received the accolades due to her energy and spirit.  

As a tiny nonprofit with operations in Peru, one could never have imagined the social media interest we have generated thus far.  In addition to helping to build our Twitter follower base to more than 11,000 followers, Manuela has played a role in other "honors."

Manuela worked as a virtual volunteer, and lived miles away.  One fortuitous day she moved to Atlanta!   This is the USA base of Amazon CARES and where I make my home when I am not in Peru.

Amazon CARES began in 2004 and I lived in Peru through 2008.  Now I travel between the two countries.  The workload had become too much for me, and despite my never having received a salary, I did not hesitate in offering Manuela a paid position which she accepted.

Manuela and I have learned from one another, and we have learned much from mistakes made, as well as the lessons offered by time and experience.  A great deal of our success has been due to Heather Mansfield.  Her blog, Nonprofit Tech 2.0, her Webinars, and more recently her book, Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits.  Soon, I will finally meet the woman I consider my Mentor in person!  Heather Mansfield is conducting a day of training in Memphis on March 15!

Days ago, Lewis Humphries wrote an article "Why Google+ Could Emerge as the Key Tool for Nonprofits in 2012."  He wrote:
Amazon Cares provides a further example of best practice when it comes to using Google+, especially in terms of boasting a strategic and integrated approach to communicating with different audiences. While linking prolifically between alternative social media sites to create an extremely interactive network, the nonprofit also pays specific attention to the benefits of Google+ by using tailored imagery and detailed posts to inform its volunteers and benefactors. The Amazon Care Google+ page is a testament to engaging in constant and well-thought out interaction, and proves the value of assessing each social media tool on its individual merit.
I am writing this blog from the Peruvian Amazon.  Manuela is managing everything in the US.  Who else but Manuela deserves credit for the statement quoted above? 

For all that you have done and continue to do, I salute you Manuela.  I value you as a best friend and as if we were sisters. 

Yesterday we rescued a dog with 6 newborns.  They were born on the street.   At Amazon CARES, one humble honor we can bestow upon a person is the naming of a dog.  This Mother dog has been named Manuela.  One of her pups will be named Lua, in honor of the puppy Manuela mourned years ago.  

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Manuela, or in support of the rescued Manuela and her puppies, please do so.  Any amount helps!  Donate through PayPal to sponsor@amazoncares.org and be sure to note the reason for your donation!


Molly Mednikow

P.S.  During the formative years of Amazon CARES, many volunteers paved the way.   I owe many thanks to these early volunteers, and I will address them in a forthcoming blog.  Some of these early volunteers continue volunteering to this day, with little reward or recognition.  They are Ana Garcia, Linda Schwefel and Dawn Christianson.  Thank you for your volunteerism on behalf of animals in need.