Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. For the first edition of 2019, HYPEster and Vice Chair of Community Involvement Committee Greg Calnen interviewed Anthony Meliso, Director of Development at
the American Lung Association
What is the mission of your organization?
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. We are leading the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air, whether it's searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or fighting for laws that protect the air we all breathe.
What is your role within the organization?
I am a director of development in Connecticut – and my main goal is to expand our community and ability to raise funds, so that we can continue to support our strategic initiatives, such as fight against lung cancer, improve the air we breathe, reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families, and eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.
How do you implement your services or programs?
We implement our services and programs by working with all types of organizations and institutions from government to research facilities to community health partners. In Connecticut we have great relationships with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, many local hospitals, MATCH (Mobilizing Against Tobacco for Connecticut’s Health) Coalition and many others. We work with them to reach people with lung disease, fund their research, educate the public on health risks and more.
In what ways has your organization been impactful to your cause?
We just released our 2018 Annual report and I’m happy to tell you that the American Lung Association’s work now directly touches 14 million Americans each year and supports more than 320 million Americans with research, programs and advocacy. We’ve also invested over $157 million in research since 2000 with $6.6 million invested in research just this past year.
We are also particularly proud to have helped put in place a rule requiring smoke-free public housing – protecting nearly 2 million people from secondhand smoke and helping smokers there quit. Right here in Connecticut we are at the forefront of the discussion to raise the age of sale of tobacco to 21, which has already happened in Hartford and Bridgeport.
How does someone get more involved?
Join our community! We have two great annual events for the Connecticut community: On April 13th of this year we are hosting the 12th Annual Fight for Air Climb Hartford where over 600 people will turn out to climb 688 steps to the top of Hartford 21. It’s a really fun and lively event that raises a ton of awareness and funds for the Lung Association.
Secondly, the LUNGFORCE Walk Hartford is a few months away, on June 2 at Great River Park. This is another annual event, that brings attention to lung cancer and the fact that lung cancer is the number 1 cancer killer in the United States. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great family event, so we’d invite everyone to come and join us. Visit lung.org for more details or to sign up!