On Thursday, October 10, senior undergraduate Brown students Michelle Shnayder and sophomore Charlotte Bilski hosted an event for SACH. The following is about Michelle’s personal experience learning about SACH and deciding to join the cause.
"My name is Michelle Shnayder and on Thursday, October 10, I had the honor of introducing Save a Child’s Heart Young Leadership Chairman Michael Littenberg-Brown to the students of Brown University. Months of planning, weeks of advertising, and days of fundraising all culminated into one incredible evening learning about SACH and Mr. Littenberg-Brown’s story. With the help of Brown RISD-Hillel, Charlotte Bilski and I were able to introduce SACH to community members on campus and to present the non-profit with almost $400.
"It all started with my first trip to Israel. While spending a week traveling throughout the country for a birthright trip in 2010, I felt deeply connected to my Jewish background. I wanted to give back to the people who had welcomed me so warmly, so two years later, I found a way to return as a volunteer. I raised $1100 for the Jewish National Fund and spent a week in Israel performing service activities like planting gardens, cleaning parks, and picking a harvest. While there, I was introduced to the NU Campaign, a T-shirt company that sells merchandise for various non-profits and donates 20% of its profits to that organization. We heard about several groups sponsored by the NU Campaign, one of which was SACH. As a student, aspiring to be a physician, I believe that every child deserves medical treatment, regardless of background or ability to pay. Listening to SACH’s mission statement, it became clear that my interests aligned perfectly with SACH’s goals, and I knew I just had to get involved.
"I wanted to bring SACH to Brown’s campus, so when I returned, I immediately reached out to the community at Brown RISD-Hillel for support. I had never planned an event before and did not really know how to make my vision into reality, but several students, including Charlotte, were eager to help. We bounced around ideas of how to contribute to SACH and share it with other Brown students. We had originally planned to show some clips about SACH and bring in a doctor to talk about heart surgeries, but then Rachel Eisen, Hillel’s Senior Engagement Associate, presented me with another opportunity. She informed me that she had read in The Jewish Week that Michael Littenberg-Brown, a former Brown student was heavily involved with SACH. I contacted Mr. Littenberg-Brown, and luckily, our guest was more than willing to make the trip.
"We spent several weeks emailing back and forth about logistics about the event, and I worked with Charlotte and to take care of room reservation, food, media, and advertising. Who knew there was so much to take into consideration when planning an event? When the week of the event finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many students stopped by our table on the Main Green to hear about SACH. All week long you could hear, “Come hear how you can save a child’s heart!” We handed out flyers promoting the event, informed people why we were supporting the cause, and acted out a skit to instill curiosity and provide a gist of what SACH is about. I even put my gymnastics skills to good use, performing back flips to attract people to our table. We ended up selling about 15 t-shirts for $20 each and about 20 bracelets for $5.
"The day of the event, an intimate group gathered to listen to Mr. Littenberg-Brown. His short film, showing pictures children who have been saved by SACH and places that they came from, was especially touching. At the conclusion of the presentation, while enjoying the sweets at the dessert reception, everyone raved about the speaker. The evening ended powerfully with Mr. Littenberg Brown meeting an unexpected guest: Sarah, a student at Brown whose family had adopted a child saved by SACH. Sarah had come to express her gratitude to SACH, and it was the perfect end to a lovely evening.
"Originally, raising money for Save a Child’s Heart was just a unique way to get involved and support an interesting cause. However, since then, my connection with SACH and my passion for the contributions SACH makes has grown. This event is not just a one-time service-project. I plan to continue working with Chairmain Littenberg-Brown throughout my time at Brown and after.
Next semester, I will be planning an event called Flip Your Heart Out, an effort to raise money by asking people to sponsor a gymnast on the Brown Gymnastics Team to perform a designated number of flips. After Brown, I plan to bring SACH to wherever I attend medical school, putting on more events to raise money and spread awareness for an organization very close to my own heart.”