Today marks my last day with the Vitamin D Council, as I continue to pursue pharmacy school in Oregon.
When I began my role as Community Coordinator, I was instantly filled with hope and enthusiasm to change public health one blog, tweet or newsletter at a time. I arrived ready to share my vitamin D knowledge with anyone who would listen. However, it didn’t take long until I realized my vitamin D knowledge was far from complete, despite completing a 30-page thesis paper on the role of vitamin D in blood pressure and holding a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition. This realization was humbling, yet exciting all at once.
Every day, new vitamin D research poured into our database, ready for the Vitamin D Council team to sort through. I witnessed the evolution of knowledge on vitamin D firsthand, which is still far from over. It astonished me how much information on the importance vitamin D, a single micronutrient, could be learned and how much remained unknown.
I also witnessed the growth of the Vitamin D Council over the three years I spent here. During this time, we began selling our in-home test kits, launched our Q&A forum, developed sites in Urdu and Spanish, launched a new website and created personalized newsletters.
When I began, about 40,000 people subscribed to our weekly newsletter. Now, over 75,000 people receive our newsletter on a weekly basis. The Vitamin D Council received two million annual website views, and now the number has risen to about five and a half million. Furthermore, our Facebook followers have more than doubled from 21,900 to 49,100. While these numbers only appear as simple statistics of our growth, they represent something much more. These numbers reflect the community I became a part of, the people who carried the Vitamin D Council forward every year through annual fundraisers, the people whose lives were changed by vitamin D and in return, they wanted to help change others’ lives. These were the people that I talked to every day on the phone or via emails. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to represent this proactive, determined, intelligent and compassionate group of individuals during my time here at the Vitamin D Council. I have written it hundreds of times in the newsletter, but I truly mean it: the Vitamin D Council would not be where it is today without you, our avid supporters and our loyal friends. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I also cannot thank Dr. John Cannell enough for providing me with this opportunity, and even more importantly, for being the intelligent and strong-minded activist that he is. He began this non-profit in the bedroom of his house as he sifted through thousands of pages of research, unlocking the key to a rather large mystery. He was determined to share this information, the detrimental effects of vitamin D deficiency on human health, and he did just that, positively impacting lives of thousands.
Of course, I cannot forget to thank all my wonderful coworkers who turned into lifelong friends. Jeff Nicklas acted as a mentor for me. He invested a lot of time, energy and effort into my training to ensure that I was the best employee I could be. He led by example, with his strong work ethic, compassion and devotion to the job. Will Hunter could always dissect the most complicated of studies and produce a fascinating yet easy to understand blog.
The current, in-office team at the Vitamin D Council consists of Dr. John Cannell, Missy Sturges, Riley Peterson and myself. If you haven’t heard the moving story of Missy Sturges’, the Executive Director, journey to health with vitamin D, you need to now. Seriously, stop reading this blog and watch this video. Missy has a personal and deep-rooted connection to vitamin D, which led her to pursue a degree in nutrition. Her dedication to help others learn the importance of vitamin D, along with the positive energy that follows her into every room she enters, is truly inspirational. Riley Peterson, the Vitamin D Council prodigy, started here as a freshman in college. She meets her tasks with professionalism and diligence. She, too, holds a deep passion for vitamin D, as evident by how hard she works on a daily basis.
Others I would like to thank:
- Branden Welshons, our comptroller, who not only manages our finances, but also provides guidance on anything and everything if needed.
- Perry Holman, the Executive Director of the Vitamin D Society, for his continuous support and encouragement.
- Our board of directors for their wisdom and guidance.
- Reggie Einkauf, Dan Steiner, Kristian Ducharme and Minervation for building our website, the platform for our voice.
- Our freelance writers Rebecca Oshiro, Tom Weishaar and Cailin Chapman.
- Our volunteers, Ivy Walsh, Naomi Solomon, Brenda Gomez, Rupesh Navthale, Rita Umile and Lauren Bower, who have spent countless hours helping our organization.
- Drew Makowski at Heartland Assays. His hard work has enabled us to provide individuals with the most affordable in-home vitamin D test kit in the United States.
- Our friends at Biotech Pharmacal, especially Lora Daniel. Their generosity to non-profits and researchers illustrates their dedication to improving public health.
As I continue to pharmacy school, I will never forget the knowledge or the people I have gained in my life from the Vitamin D Council. In fact, I plan to utilize my skills and information on vitamin D in pharmacy, practicing integrative medicine.
While I may not be writing blogs or newsletters, I will continue reading them. I won’t leave this special community that I have come to love. I wish you all the best.
P.S. Add me on LinkedIn!