Sunday, August 21, 2011

Good News for People Who Love Bad News

It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Eileen Botti, Vegan Outreach's incredible New York Outreach Coordinator for years now—as well as one of our all-time leading leafleters—is moving on. She is going to be a music therapist / rehabilitation specialist at a community center for people who are homeless in New York City.

Since she started leafleting for Vegan Outreach in 2004, Eileen has reached over 175,000 individuals (you can see her statistics here, and her 2008 profile here). At least as important, many people have become active because of Eileen's inspiration, helping to change countless other lives. She's leafleted in every type of weather imaginable, and continued leafleting even after losing her voice from talking with so many people.

It is a great loss for VO, but we are sure Eileen will continue to be hugely successful in her efforts to make the world a better place. We have been—and continue to be—very fortunate to have her as a colleague and friend.

A few of her stories from last semester:

It was great to be joined by Lindsay, Casey, Dana, and Matt at Marywood University today! This is my alma mater and where I became an activist, so this was a very special leafleting for me.
     As far as the veg-friendly factor goes, Scranton, PA has done a 180 since I attended college there in 2001–2005! There is essentially a vegan mini-mall downtown: an amazing vegan cafe; a vegan, fair-trade, cruelty-free shop; another shop with environmentally-friendly and recycled products – all right next to each other. And the new group that has formed at Marywood had at least 14 members in attendance for my talk at their final club meeting of the semester! Way bigger than our group back in the day – totally amazing.

Take rate at Hofstra University was quite high. I heard many students conversing about leaflets as they were passing by, and many more remarking to their friends things like, “I’m a vegan!” One student who had been vegetarian for a while said this is the healthiest he’s ever felt in his life; and several other students came up to me to ask about going vegan.
     It’s nice to see this increase in awareness happen semester after semester. When I think back to the first time I visited this campus a few years ago, it is clear people are more open to the message right now than ever before.

Three students joined me at John Jay, two of whom weren’t vegetarian when they started. They read the leaflets during breaks and now wanted to go veg!
     At NYU, a security guard called me over…to ask questions about going vegetarian! Heard from many vegans and vegetarians throughout the day, and one comment stood out: “I went vegan for a week last time I got this, give me another one, I want to give it a shot again for real this time.”

Despite the very cold temperatures, Team Awesome (Cassandra, Marguerite, and I) descended on Baruch College, where a number of people recognized us/ the booklets; e.g., “I don’t eat chicken anymore because of you guys!”
     At St. John’s University, one student came running up to me, saying to the crowd, “Hey, oh my god! Here everyone take these! You have to know about this!” and then turned to me saying, “You made me vegetarian when you handed this to me during my freshman year! I’m working on cutting out dairy and eggs. Thank you so much!”
     Within two minutes of that, another student stopped by and said, “This is really, really great. I just read the whole thing in class. I was thinking of cutting back anyway because of health, but this is a better reason.” She seemed like she needed more information, so when I offered her a Guide, she exclaimed, “Thank you! You are my savior! I’ve been wanting to do this and it will help!”