"My heart is full of compassion and love for my friends and loved ones who are affected by the flooding that is taking place near Rio. I know what is like to lose your home to flooding as it happened to my family when I was 18 years old. Thousands of people came to aid our community. Those acts of love changed me forever. Brazil is near and dear to my heart. The people there have blessed my life so much. There are hundreds of people who are missing and presumed dead and many who have lost their homes. Please do what you can to help us help those beautiful, open, and loving people. We are all connected and assisting, praying, and blessing those who are in need right now in Rio is a blessing of duty and love that will return tenfold."
MonaVie Founder and Vice Chairman
To donate to the Niteroi Flood Relief Fund, click here.
The following was written and sent in by Gabriel Ponce, MonaVie's head of public relations in Brazil, which will give you a bit of insight into the devastation currently rocking Rio, followed by details of how you can help:
The storm that hit Rio starting Monday, April 5, has left 138 dead across the state. The areas west and north, and especially the regions near the center of the capital of Rio and city of Niteroi, in the metropolitan area, where the MORE Project is located, were the hardest hit, with floods and mudslides. According to the Civil Defense, as of this moment there are 72 deaths in Niteroi and approximately 14,000 homeless and displaced people throughout Rio and Niteroi. Mayor Jorge Roberto Silveira declared official mourning for a week – “Niterói has never recorded a rain like that.”
The city is practically closed. Even today, some of the streets that give access to other parts of the city are closed because of mudslides or flood. The mudslides are the main problem now, affecting the poor people who live in the favelas (slums), which are located on the hills.
The MORE Project assists people in 12 of the approximately 130 favelas in Niteroi. From those 12 favelas, Morro do Estado, Boa Vista and Juca Branco are the ones most affected by the mudslides.
In the Cova da Onça slums, a mudslide buried two houses with six people. A man escaped, but could not save his wife and his son, "I was sleeping, did not hear any noise or anything. When it came, came taking everything. I tried to save my wife and my son and I could not, man. Can’t find them," he said.
In the Juca Branco slums, one of The MORE Project students lost his one-year-old brother in a mudslide that hit half of his house.
All the favelas including Vila Ipiranga are in imminent risk. People are being advised to leave their homes immediately. Those who lost their homes were relocated to public schools, leaving behind their few material possessions. They need mattresses, bedding clothes, blankets, towels, diapers, hygiene supplies, water and principally our love and prayers.
UPDATE: Since receiving this news from Gabriel yesterday evening the mudslides have taken another toll on one of the favelas, most recently destroying over 40 homes; 200 are missing as a result.
We’ll give you more information as we receive it. Short updates will be posted primarily to The MORE Project Facebook page and then to the MonaVie Facebook page, Twitter and BlogMV. Follow us via any of these links and you’ll be sure to get the most current info. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section.
"Get me outta here, please get me out of here." That was the cry for help from Marcus Vinicius Vieira de France, eight years old, last Tuesday, April 6, in the Morro dos Prazeres in Santa Teresa, downtown Rio. Hours later, on Wednesday, April 7, he was dead upon being removed from the rubble, to the dismay of his father who pulled his body from the arms of firefighters and left screaming and crying amid the mire. The scene moved residents and the team who participated in the rescue.
It’s funny how people can go to work and for the most part, know very little about the people we work around. Of course, some may like it that way, but I believe there are compelling stories to be found all around us.
For Vincent Romney, Senior IT Project Manager at MonaVie, running and staying in shape was a way of life and some might say “he could run all day long.” And now…he’s gonna try! This weekend, Vincent is going to participate in the 24 Hours of Utah, that’s right…running for 24 hours in beautiful Moab, Utah! I'd call him crazy if he wasn't doing it for the coolest reason on the planet.
Why would someone do such a thing?
I’ll let Vincent answer that with an excerpt from his blog:
“Now enter my daughter Paislee, who wants to do something to make the world a better place, and I introduce her to the MORE Project. We dropped by and talked to Valerie, and she mentioned the “MORE Expeditions”, and instantly, Paislee had her volunteer opportunity. Now she just needed a way to start raising funds… see the pending convergence?
So I pay my entry fee for the 24 hours of MOAB, and we start collecting pledges from anyone and everyone willing to support this combo of philanthropy and insanity. Sounded simple enough, but now the concept of logistics set in. I need support for the entire 24 hours including; pacers, food preparation, sleeping arrangements for the pacers and support crew, etc. I initially sent out a request for volunteer help to the entire IT department I work in, and WOW! I work with some great people!”
Isn’t it great to hear other MonaVie employees helping out their co-worker? Kudos to the following MonaVie employees who are going to help out:
Bruce Arnett, Director of Software Development - Pacer
Daniel Eastman, Change Control Manager – Pacer/Co-team Captain
Chandler Childs, Senior Technical Writer - Pacer
Steven Proffit, Technical Business Analyst - Pacer
Joshua Jackson, Technical Business Analyst - Pacer
Steve Brigham, IT Help Desk Assistant – Logistical Support
We’ll be following Vincent and the team this weekend on his challenge and you can follow along too as we give updates on Twitter, or you can follow Vincent @vinceromney.
For those who want to donate to help Paislee’s MORE Project Expedition trip, you can go to Vincent’s blog, http://www.ultraoldguy.blogspot.com/ (love that title!), and click on the MORE Donations link underneath the picture. If there are any who would like to donate per mile, you can email Vincent directly at email@example.com.
As the Social Media Promotions Manager for MonaVie, I get the privilege of working with Shante and the rest of our Marketing team and have been following you all on BlogMV, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and it truly is exciting. One of the projects I helped spearhead was MonaVie’s involvement with Alyssa Milano’s UNICEF Haiti Tweet Challenge that I discovered on of all places…Twitter!
Alyssa had been involved in the Haiti Relief efforts from the beginning and partnering with UNICEF and using the power of social media and Twitter, the challenge was afoot! The idea for MonaVie to take on this challenge was pitched to our executives, and they all loved it! Within a half an hour, emails were flying back and forth to make this a reality at the Anaheim Regional, and MonaVie responded by not only matching the amount, but doubling it! I was lucky enough to be able to communicate our efforts to Alyssa and she was very grateful and many of you saw her tweet “@monavie” to her 740,000 followers numerous times as other companies donated as well. She was also grateful when we sent her a case of (M)mun!
Last week, I was able to go to Hollywood and attend a taping of her new pilot show, “Romantically Challenged” and able to meet her in person. The taping of the show was in the same studio as Seinfeld and is directed by Jim Burrows, who also directed Cheers, Friends, Frazier and Two and a Half Men. We were able to get “VIP” seating and sit with Alyssa’s family and friends (one of whom I later found out was the Co-founder and Chairman of Twitter!). For those who have never seen a taping of a TV show before, it truly is an experience as it usually takes over 4 hours to just shoot a 22-minute comedy (and yes my face was hurting from smiling so much!). The show was very funny, and it was their 6th and final taping as the show will await its final fate from ABC (we’ll be sure to pass along details if/when the show airs!).
After the show, we were escorted onto the set where the cast and crew were having a party and we were extremely fortunate to be able to meet Alyssa and others from the cast and take a few pictures as time was short. Alyssa was very friendly and accommodating and was kind enough to tape a little video message as well.
For me, this experience highlights two things: 1) the amazing MonaVie culture and 2) the power of social media. While I was fortunate to be able to pitch the idea, I was amazed at the reaction of our wonderful leaders and their vision to run with it, inspire others to donate and to set the bar high to double the amount. The generosity of MonaVie distributors and its employees was also on display as many of you answered the call, which is why MonaVie and the MORE Project are so successful today.
In regards to social media, I think a point that often gets lost in all the excitement of these new communication platforms, is that it’s a tremendous channel to simply listen. Many have a perception of Twitter or Facebook that it’s a waste of time, or they don’t know what to say. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s OK to not say anything; in fact, I encourage you to not say anything until you’re comfortable or find a way to add value to the conversation. There are opportunities to reach out to others if we are willing to listen, to learn and to then interact. This opportunity is evidence of just that. What’s even better was actually meeting Alyssa face-to-face to make this experience even more memorable for me, and now hopefully for you too.
Here's more behind the scenes from my day:
Social Media Promotions Manager, MonaVie
Well, today wraps up the MORE Project Expedition to Brazil. It has been both an exhausting and an exhilarating week.
For days, we kept a schedule with only about 4 hours of sleep per night. We saw some of the most remarkable sites in the world, including the Amazon rainforest, the Amazon River, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, but the most moving thing we saw was the reaction of children to a little love and respect.
The Black Diamonds completed a service project that involved real heavy lifting, moving dirt and debris in preparation for the construction of another home for the less fortunate in the favelas.
The trip ended today with the Regional in Sao Paulo. What great energy! The four hour event featured Dallin articulating the vision for MonaVie, including tips on building the business without treating people like nails—“don’t pound people into this business!”
Everyone had high praise for Mauricio’s leadership in Brazil. As the GM, he has successfully laid a foundation for success in one of the world’s largest direct selling markets.
Personally, I had fun. After studying Portuguese for the last six months, I delivered an 8 minute presentation on the Preferred Customer Program – in Portuguese. I don’t think anyone focused much on my message, but they seemed pleased that I would take the time to learn enough Portuguese to be able to give my talk in their language.
As I wrap up my reporting, I want to thank Katy, Valerie and Andrea for the great job they did in organizing this week. It was a non-stop adventure!
Finally, I want to thank MonaVie’s great distributors, not just the Black Diamonds, for their support of the MORE Project. By teaching them to read and write, to do math and to see the world through an international lens, we enable them to become highly productive members of society who have options beyond drugs and prostitution. While we won’t end poverty in our lifetimes, we will end poverty for our kids for the rest of their lives. Together, we make a difference.
Today I left the MORE Project with Dallin one day ahead of the rest of the group to head for Sao Paulo in preparation for the Regional event here tomorrow.
It was a shame to leave the MORE Project early, but we left a great group of close friends to stay there in service. Karree, who stayed, reported that they were working very hard doing manual labor at the new professional school, which is slated to open soon.
Meanwhile, Dallin was taking a group of four Brazilian leaders to Sao Paulo on the MonaVie Jet. It was exciting for me to go along for the ride.
Most of us will live and die without ever getting a chance to ride on a private jet. The world’s most successful corporations routinely fly their chief executives around on such planes because they are more efficient—meaning that despite the cost of the planes, they save more money than they cost. MonaVie is no different, but by taking distributors along for the ride the impact goes from efficiency to synergy as the jet becomes a part of the compensation plan.
Our four leaders, Marcelo Serakides, Luis Soares, Francisco Nunes, and Bruno Grilo work synergistically across lines to build the Brazilian market. Weekly volume has nearly tripled in the last six months as these great leaders have built their personal success. If four guys ever deserved a quick flight on the MonaVie jet, these four did!
For me, today was the pinnacle of the MORE Project Expedition. We visited the Villa Iparanga favela, the Believers Project school, the Nehemiah House built by funding from MonaVie Management and the Larsen Lodge, where we are staying tonight. These are all key parts of the MORE Project.
In the Villa Iparanga, we saw firsthand the challenges we face and the impact we are having. Amidst abject poverty—the stuff of television commercials—we found the Nehemiah House funded by the MonaVie Corporate Management, including General Managers who met here one year ago. The home is now occupied by a woman who was trained by the MORE Project to read and write and who, upon completing this training at age 50, obtained her first permanent job as a city sanitation worker—a position she holds proudly and that blesses her family.
We visited the school at the Believers Project, which must be the happiest place on earth. Disney’s parks do not hold a candle to this place. It is an absolute sanctuary. The kids are safe here. Some have now been attending the school for four years. Their entire lives have already been changed. They are not only learning to read and write and do math, but are learning foreign languages, a global perspective and self confidence. They will not only graduate from school, they will graduate from the favelas and become great contributors to making Brazil an even more wonderful country.
Tonight, we are staying in the Larsen Family Lodge, which was funded by Dallin and Karree and is used to house those visiting the MORE Project as volunteers. It is a wonderful, safe and Spartan lodge that truly makes it easier for the volunteers to come and serve. A modest and informal dedication ceremony took place tonight. Dallin and Karree were both emotional in describing their vision for the use of the property to bless the lives of both the volunteers and those they volunteer to serve.
[Due to technology issues, I’m afraid more photos and video will have to wait at least 24 hours.]
Words can hardly express the feelings that we all shared today here in Brazil.
We started the day very early—5:00 AM to see the acai market in full swing. It is winding down by sunup so we have to get out there early to experience it. While the rest of the world sleeps, acai harvesters are hard at work getting their products down the Amazon River to the market place in Belem. What a sight to behold.
After a quick breakfast break, we were headed up river in a small boat to visit a village on an island in the river. There, we visited a school chosen by the MORE Project and delivered much needed school supplies and visited briefly with the beautiful children there. I was impressed by how well mannered the children were; my wife is a school teacher in the U.S. and I can assure you that kids aren’t so well behaved in her school! Clearly, we were all more touched by these darling children than they were by us. I am grateful that we had a chance to visit them.
Then, strolling through the jungle, we saw a local man harvest Brazil nuts from their almost impermiable shell. Amazing! Then, the same 67-year-old zipped up an acai palm just to show off. Tim Marks gave it a try, too. He wasn’t bleeding too badly after his attempt, but enough to keep anyone else from making a serious attempt to duplicate the heroics of the local.
Following our excursion up river, we went to see a plant where acai is processed for MonaVie. We were very impressed by what we saw. The operations are genuinely first rate and just what you’d hope to see in a food processing plant anywhere in the world. The operation was genuinely, religiously clean and operates to world-class standards.
As with yesterday’s post, you can find some photos of the day below.
May I confess that I found the first day of the MORE Project Expedition just a little depressing? As the leaders gathered from all around the world to come help the MORE Project, it became perfectly clear to me that they have not come on vacation, but rather on a mission. I didn’t come emotionally prepared. I came to work, not to serve. I faced the stark reality today that my heart was not in the right place as I was surrounded by people who live to serve.
I was amazed at their grace under pressure. Several missed a flight today due to slow baggage handling, and you’d think that they’d won an extra few hours in Disney World, not an airport. All smiles. All happy. I am convinced that this is the product of having your heart in the right place. If you are here to serve, a missed connection doesn’t matter.
The MonaVie field leaders are absolutely first rate human beings. They are role models for all of us. I will be posting more in the coming days about what we see and learn, but tonight, I’m putting my heart in the right place and I’m ready to join the MonaVie team in serving the people of Brazil this week.
Below are some photos of these outstanding leaders!
You’re all way too smart for me because you guessed which product would be offered to sample at the Indianapolis Regional. Good work! And guess what, for you extra smart-ness (don’t tell me that’s not a word), we’re going to give you an opportunity to sample the product and participate in the last phase of development, even if you will not be attending the regional.
Here's Jeff Graham, VP of Product Development to tell you more:
That’s right, we’re selecting 20 fans from our official MonaVie Facebook page to receive a sample can of EMV Lite, along with the Lite’n Up drop card Jeff Graham is holding in the video, and a survey because we want your input before we go into final production. And if you want another chance to be chosen, pop over to MonaVie’s Twitter page because we’re choosing another 20 followers to receive a sample as well.
Does it get better than this? Don’t answer that. Let’s just revel in the fact that you get to try product before it’s launched.
Here’s what you need to do, just follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter Saturday, March 13 during the live coverage of the Indianapolis Regional. Comment on any of the status updates during the Saturday event on Facebook, Tweet @monavie, reTweet something we’ve Tweeted, or comment here on BlogMV. Just let me know you’re sharing it. The more comments and Tweets, the merrier!
We’ll randomly choose our 20 people from Facebook and 20 from Twitter on Monday.