Alana Miedrich: Making Wishes Come True
Alana Miedrich is the inventory and logistics assistant at Kids Wish Network, a children's charity in Holiday, Fla., that assists children and families experiencing life-altering situations. Alana joined Kids Wish Network in early 2013.
Responsibilities: Inbound and outbound transportation of all items donated to Kids Wish Network.
Experience: Bookkeeper and marketing, Children of the Nations International Adoptions; purchasing analyst, account manager, and logistics management, HPI Direct.
Education: A.S., marketing and multimedia design, Tallahassee Community College, 2003.
I started working in logistics at HPI Direct, a company in Alpharetta, Ga., that sells promotional items with company logos. My boss, the director of purchasing, put me in charge of freight transportation. My work included tracking imports from factory to door, negotiating freight rates, managing retail supplies from sales reports, and moving goods from our warehouse to eight retail locations throughout the United States.
Today, at Kids Wish Network's home office, we operate a 20,000-square-foot warehouse. At any given time, it holds donated items with an estimated retail value of $4 million. I'm in charge of shipping those items to facilities nationwide that support our programs.
Kids Wish Network grants wishes to children three to 18 years old who are facing life-threatening conditions. In addition, we run various gift bank programs. The Kids Wish Network On Tour program, for example, works closely with city and county officials to distribute millions of dollars of new goods to at-risk youth, while fostering relationships in the community.
Through our Holiday of Hope Gift Bank program, we send truckloads of toys to children's hospitals, schools, and organizations. We recently shipped seven pallet loads of clothing, school supplies, and toys to a school district in Florida where many children live in poverty. We also have a Hero of the Month program for children who have overcome life-altering circumstances and exhibited amazing courage.
The most challenging part of my job is obtaining freight donations. Because our entire inventory is donated, we seek sponsors for our freight as often as possible.
When we can't obtain a donation, we pay for transportation. To find a carrier, I go through a quote process, and just like any other business, the best price wins. We always look for the best discounts, and I'm not shy—I'll ask anyone to do anything at least once. Sometimes a carrier will give us a discount just because I ask; in other cases, we're able to move a pallet or two on a truck that has a little extra space available.
I recently met with a salesman from a carrier we've been working with for years, and he had no idea that we have a warehouse full of inventory. When I gave him a tour of our facility, he was surprised to learn that we donate 100 percent of the goods.
One thing in my career I'm most proud of is how I have learned by watching other people—I'm a sponge that way. I've learned that the way you treat other people in business is important. Kindness is always the best way, and I work hard at it. I have bad days like everyone else, but for the most part I try to treat everybody with as much respect as I can.
The Big Questions
What was your first job?
I worked in a mall, selling nuts and candy.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I play piano, I like to cook for large gatherings, and I have a passion for photography.
What was your most memorable work-related mistake, and what did it teach you?
While working for a hotel in Tallahassee, I was once asked to take luggage to the room where Burt Reynolds was staying. He answered the door himself, and I was so starstruck I couldn't speak. It was embarrassing, but I learned that if you can get past your shyness, there is so much to gain from listening and talking to people from all walks of life.
If you could change places with one person for a day, who would it be?
My father. He has Alzheimer's disease, and I'm curious to know if he's aware of the daily changes he's going through. I hope he's not.