Spreading diabetes awareness is something that is very important to me and has also shaped me as a future health care professional. My sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly after her fourth birthday; she is now 26 years old. The diagnosis has made my family more aware of what type 1 and type 2 diabetes means medically, but also how it affects patients daily.
Witnessing my sister’s rollercoaster battle with blood-sugar control, and learning about complications and comorbidities, made me want to take action. This was the impetus that began my journey into health care.
APhA–ASP Chapters are always looking for new event ideas to increase involvement as well as support the different patient care projects. As the Operation Diabetes Chair at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFU), I wanted to start a new and fun event that could also contribute to spreading diabetes awareness. We implemented such an event recently, which we named Coffee House.
Coffee House was an idea that was taken from my alma mater, Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA. It is a social event where the audience watches students and faculty perform a variety of talents to raise funds for a charitable cause. Having already been familiar with Coffee House and its success at my high school, I knew it was perfect to hold as an Operation Diabetes event to spread diabetes awareness and raise money for the American Diabetes Association at RFU.
Our chapter needed about 3 months to plan and execute Coffee House. First, we found a suitable event hall that included capacity for about 100 people and proper connectivity for AV equipment. Simultaneous to booking the event hall, we started recruiting performers and advertising the event, which was open to the entire university.
The largest hurdle in implementing any new event is getting people to attend and participate. We overcame this challenge by using all forms of advertising, including social media as well as posting flyers around campus. To assist further, we decided to sell tickets a week prior to the event as a tactic for securing attendance. The sharp ticket design employed maroon and dark gray, which are RFU’s branded colors. The $5 tickets were sold at a lunchtime Diabetes Awareness information booth. The low ticket price made the event more affordable and appealing to the students. The entire executive board was instrumental in promoting the event and selling the tickets to our university colleagues.
Coffee House took place on a Friday night in November, which is American Diabetes Month. We had performers arrive early so the AV equipment could be set up according to their needs. In addition to performers and attendees, volunteers were very helpful in executing Coffee House. While relevant to the Diabetes Awareness theme, it was a fun and stress-free environment for the volunteers. They assisted in selling delicious baked goods made by our members along with coffee, water, tea, and tickets at the door. All snacks and beverages during the event were sold for $1.
On a perfect autumn night, glimpses of culture and diversity were present among performances, such as a German folk dance, henna tattoo designs, and a rap act describing student life at RFU. After a short intermission, we also had our Professor and Chapter Advisor, Khyati Patel, PharmD, BCPS, talk about the importance of diabetes awareness. We raised $321 for the ADA at the end of this 2-hour event, but most importantly, every single person present enjoyed the evening.
Considering it was the first year hosting Coffee House, it was a great success for our chapter. This unique event was a wonderful way to spread diabetes awareness. The creativity and enthusiasm of the performers showed the importance they feel toward spreading awareness. We are thankful for the time and effort taken by the volunteer members, gifted performers, supporting faculty and staff, and our executive board, without whom the event would not have been possible. As the chapter makes improvements, we look forward to hosting an even bigger and better Coffee House next year!