LAKELAND – Kylie Foley is no stranger to mission, but she’s especially excited about her new job as Imagine No Malaria field coordinator for the Florida Conference.
She sees it as decidedly mission possible.
“The goal is to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Foley, who will step into her new role May 7.
“It (malaria) is killing people needlessly … and it’s something we can eradicate.”
Details of a formal partnership between the United Methodist-supported Imagine No Malaria and the Florida Conference are expected to be announced at the 2014 Annual Conference in June. The conference received a $40,000 grant to kick-start the effort.
Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans, director of Missional Engagement for the Florida Conference, announced Foley as the field coordinator only a few days before United Methodists and others prepared to celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25.
Campbell-Evans said Foley stood out among candidates for the position.
“Here was somebody who just seemed tailor-made for this initiative,” he said. “Every single answer to every single question was like she had been preparing for this job her whole life.”
Foley is a 2013 graduate of Florida State University, where she was active in the FSU Wesley Foundation throughout her college years and has been interning with the campus ministry since August. She completed previous internships with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission in Birmingham, Ala., and the Tallahassee-based Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas.
She said she first learned about Imagine No Malaria while working for the North Alabama Conference and carried the information to her internship for FSU Wesley.
She organized an information session attended by about 40 students to screen a documentary about malaria and the goal of wiping out malaria deaths – particularly in Africa, where most such fatalities occur – caught fire.
“People really took hold of it,” Foley said, noting that an Easter fundraiser brought in $8,000 toward the cause.
Foley will end her internship in Tallahassee on May 3. She plans to relocate to Lakeland a day or so before starting her new job.
She expects to begin “facilitating the excitement” of fundraising and awareness campaigns for Imagine No Malaria in local churches soon after that. People who haven’t met her by Annual Conference can do so by visiting Ministry Expo, where Foley expects to staff a booth or table.
Foley grew up attending a Presbyterian church in Lake Worth and also spent some time in ministry with a nondenominational church. She said she found her way to The United Methodist Church when she visited some campus ministries at FSU and fell in love with the Wesley Foundation.
"It’s been the best part of my college experience,” Foley said. “I’m very excited to become part of the Methodist Church long-term.”
Even before college, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and geography, Foley was interested in seeing the way people live in other parts of the world. She went on mission trips to Australia and the Czech Republic and later, through college and internships, visited Cambodia, Bolivia and Haiti.
Those experiences have helped broaden her perspective on ways that people in the U.S. can benefit others and benefit from others.
“It’s not just rich countries giving to poor countries,” Foley said. “It should be a mutual relationship … learning from each other.”
-- Susan Green is the managing editor of Florida Conference Connection.