The first time I met Brian Pham and Adam Cox was in March of 2013. They were working with a man I admire, Stephe McMahon, and United Ways in New York and New Jersey to create service projects for SpringFix, United Way's Alternative Spring Break with MTV to rebuild communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. For weeks, Stephe kept telling me I would instantly love both Adam and Brian as much as he does. As is always the case, Stephe was right.
The two of them creating the SpringFix experience was almost prophetic - Adam and Brian participated in our first Alternative Spring Break with MTV when they, as college students, gave up their spring breaks to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. They were in there, working, rebuilding houses only three months after the storm. The experience has stayed with them. "I still think about it a lot," Brian says as he reminisces over an eight year old experience he recalls as if it happened moments ago. "To know that me and four other United Way Alternative Spring Break volunteers literally built this roof in one week and that it's probably the same roof she has on her house to today... reminds me that a week of volunteering can make a really big impact."
When you talk to the pair, who are an incredibly tight-knit duo, you learn about what they gained out of the experience on a personal level. Their friendship solidified when they drove from Washington, DC to Biloxi Mississippi for their second ASB in 2007. That bond has moved beyond "the foundation for a lifelong friendship" to the founding of Break A Difference, a nonprofit founded by Adam, Brian, and their colleagues Stephe and Joan McMahon. The foursome are amazing at planning and executing United Way Alternative Spring Breaks. They have years of experience as participants, planners, team leaders, marketers, and fundraisers. Best of all, they're passionate about United Way. "I'm no United Way expert but I know they're about way more than just raising money. The work that they do around creating advocates for community issues, getting people involved in volunteerism, and obviously still raising money and funding agencies that are doing good work in communities around the country" is why Adam Cox is excited to work with seven United Ways to help college kids experience ASB.
You can watch the whole interview below. To learn more about Alternative Spring Break and sign up, go to www.unitedway.org/asb.