by Ivan Martinez, Director of Outreach & Wing Operations
Santa Barbara Outreach Activity Report
Before Command Pilot Jeff Moorhouse took the reins of Southern California Wing Leader in 2019, he was the California Central Coast Area Leader and became an outreach superstar. Mission requests in the California Central Coast had been on a steady decline and missions flown fell below the 100 missions-a-year mark in 2018; meaning we were reaching less families in need of transportation assistance for their health needs. Our data repeatedly indicates that a decline in outreach activity equals a decline in missions flown and patients served. We knew we needed to reconnect with the local healthcare and social service community to rebuild awareness to help us deliver health and hope.
Jeff led the charge in getting the word out – supported by the HQ staff and myself – to every health provider and social services agency we could connect with, which turned out to be more than a few. From hospitals, domestic violence agencies, nonprofit patient-support organizations, hospice groups, local radio and TV, you name it, we approached all and were mostly welcomed with much curiosity to hear about free flights for patients. It didn’t hurt that Jeff is highly active in the philanthropic communities of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. I’ve had the pleasure of joining Jeff on numerous occasions to meet with our existing partners and present our services to potential new requesters.
The following process is what we’ve done several times in the past with other Wings, and have found it to be most effective in our outreach efforts. First, and possibly the most challenging, is initiating contact with new leads and partners, finding the right person in the agency who will take a few minutes to hear AFW’s “elevator pitch.” This initial step is one that I can pass along and help volunteers throughout the Wings with these opportunities. Thanks to our new Outreach Community Portal, we now have a tool able to provide the necessary information and resources to keep track of these efforts. Once “in the door,” things tend to start falling into place then finding a local volunteer available to schedule an in-service presentation or other meeting with key staff members. The Outreach Toolkit (found in the Community Portal) provides any volunteer the tools needed to step into the process and conduct an in-service presentation including: slide presentation deck, digital copies of AFW literature, attendee sign-in sheet training tools, videos, etc. We plan to soon launch training outreach videos to help volunteers get a better idea of the process. We know it’s not as easy as it may sound with so much information to convey. Most of us just want to fly, right?
But twelve states is a lot of ground to cover and impossible to do without the help of volunteers like Jeff. Luckily, I’ve never met an AFW volunteer who isn’t passionate about our mission and excited to share with others. Just ask Jeff.
“Sharing the Angel Flight West story with health providers, social service agencies and community service groups is almost as rewarding as actually flying our patients. These groups and organizations are particularly engaged when the story is being delivered by an AFW Volunteer Pilot along with Ivan. Each and every time we deliver our message, we have people in the audience who invite us to additional meetings and groups. What we have learned is that we need to continually get in front of these organizations reminding them who we are and what we do as there tends to be turnover in staff. Once someone leaves and a new person takes their place, our story needs to be told again.”
During the year of our outreach activity, our flights for the Central California Coast shot up to more than 200 missions flown in a single year. We’re reaching more families and patients who would otherwise not be able to access treatment. I joke with Jeff that he should run for mayor, as it seems at every turn during our outreach outings together, we would run into someone he knows. He immediately places an AFW brochure in their hand and jumps right into it. We thank you, Jeff, for sharing your passion, dedication, and love for our mission. You have my vote.