Imagine No Malaria Profile: Julia Frisbie
Julia Frisbie rises to shine for Imagine No Malaria
This work of art was deposited on Julia's Imagine No Malaria table during an Annual Conference this year. It was created by Jeff Robinson of Wasilla, WA.
“What can I do for Imagine No Malaria today?”
“I may be the only person in my conference who wakes up every morning and says, ‘What can I do for Imagine No Malaria today?’” admits Julia Frisbie.
Rise and shine, Julia Frisbie!
As field coordinator for Imagine No Malaria in the Northwest U.S., Julia is a tireless crusader who rallies grassroots enthusiasts to help The United Methodist Church defeat deaths in Africa from malaria. United Methodists and their global partners are 88 percent of the way toward meeting a $75 million goal.
“Sometimes I have dreams where I wake up, sit up straight, and say, ‘Oh my God! Kids are going to die today. I need to be awesome on my job!” Julia adds.
According to Patrick Scriven, who works with Julia in the Pacific Northwest Conference, Julia is, indeed, “awesome.” Scriven directs communications and young people’s ministries in the conference connectional ministries office.
“To make a difference, to effect change, in complex situations requires people with enthusiasm and energy to spare,” Patrick says. “Julia is one of those people.”
“She’s organized, driven, compassionate, faithful, and a wonderful communicator – everything we look for in a field coordinator,” says Ashley Gish, assistant campaign director for Imagine No Malaria.
Formerly a wordsmith with The United Methodist Committee on Relief, Julia came out from behind the byline to work for Imagine No Malaria a year and a half ago. She has already seen many of what she refers to as “mustard-seed moments.”
“That’s when God takes one seed – one tiny thing – and turns it into a habitat where people really love each other, even when they are far removed.”
Covering three time zones in four states, Julia lights fires under congregations and communities. She can summarize her job description in two words: “momentum specialist.”
She teaches workshops, organizes golf tournaments and 5K races and runs, shows up for church events and answers questions.
“When I talk to people, I get excited over and over again,” she says. ‘It’s like the first time every time.”
Some might assume a field coordinator is all about the “ask,” but for Julia, expressing thanks is the favorite part of her job.
“I worry that people will slip through the cracks and think I don’t care, but I do,” she says. “Tracking the activity and the giving has become a huge part of my job because I don’t want to ever leave any donor un-thanked.”
People at their best
“I’ve been around people I don’t expect to make a donation,” she says. “But then they open up and get generous in ways I wouldn’t imagine.”
Donors often give in nontraditional ways. In fact, Julia says, supporters go to extremes to stir enthusiasm and bank bucks for the good cause.
“Wacky,” she says. “People have done a lot of wacky things to raise money.”
· A pastor told her church she would run a 5K race wearing a tutu and singing a song of their choice if they upped their giving.
· In a video confessional booth Julia set up at an annual conference, one teen told the story of how he waxed his legs, not only raising money for INM, but also gaining personal insight, he said, on what women have to endure.
· Another donor made citronella soap to sell. That product is gaining popularity on the Imagine No Malaria circuit.
“Growing up,” Julia recalls, “my family talked a lot about giving and tithing. Like, ‘Of course, we give to the church. We’ve always given to the church, and God tells us to do this.’
“Before,” she acknowledges, “I thought of giving as an obligation. I just didn’t know it could be so much fun!”
Churches at their best
Julia says a church’s efforts to give generously have brought her to tears more than once. She remembers a church that was getting ready to close its doors.
Epworth LeSourd United Methodist Church was in a Tacoma, Washington, neighborhood that was no longer a good fit for the traditional congregation. Before members closed their church doors, however, they wanted to have a big impact. They decided to give some of the money left in church coffers to Imagine No Malaria.
“I never want to see a church close its doors,” Julia said. “But their generosity was unmatched. It was so incredible that they could take this ending and turn it into a new beginning for so many people they will never meet.”
St. John’s United Methodist Church in Anchorage, Alaska, also rates the designation of “awesome.” Ten years ago, the church raised $20,000 for Nothing But Nets. Prompted by an article in Sports Illustrated, they got on the bandwagon early and stayed aboard. They raised an additional $69,000 for Imagine No Malaria.
“This incredible church has raised more than $80,000 and saved thousands of lives,” Julia said.
“Churches are deciding they want to be known as the church saving lives, not just the little white church with a steeple down the road.”
A positive story to tell
Julia smiles as she watches people around the country get ignited and inspired. She believes that as United Methodists become more mission-focused, there will be more meaning in Sunday mornings.
“Even while the church is declining and dividing in the United States,” she says, “Imagine No Malaria gives us a more positive story to tell.
“We are more powerful than we think. We have the capacity to change the world, both at home and on the other side of the world. Everything can be turned on its head by this powerful love.”
With a birds-eye view of people giving with “infinite love,” Julia confesses she often ends up in tears.
“I want to think that my life matters because I loved a lot of people, even ones I haven’t met.”