Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wal Mart Donation

Our $1,000 Wal Mart Donation came through! This was our 3rd consecutive donation from them which, in itself is terrific, but this is even more special because I really didn't think it was going to happen. Now, I never automatically assume that we're going to get any type of donation- that is just arrogant. However, there are certain things that one has a good feeling about (usually with reason) or not. The lady who is my connection at our local Wal Mart has always been very supportive and helpful. When I contacted her a couple of months ago she said that Wal Mart had changed their donation guidelines, so she wasn't sure if our application would get approved. I was anxious, very anxious, because that was not good news at all. Combined with the fact that fundraising has been very slow this year (with the exception of TJX and Jen's event), that was extra bad news. So when I got the call saying that our check was ready- I was so happy. It actually took me back to that spring morning three years ago when I got the first call. I still remember standing at my desk, looking out the window after Dotty called and thinking how bright everything looked outside- how it looked almost as bright as I was feeling. The donation was one of our largest then and it was a sign to me that things were going to be OK- that not only were we holding our own, but we our base of support was growing. There was also a feeling of relief- things were so fragile then financially, that every donation meant that we could fight on a little bit longer.

So that is the latest in good news. What else is new? I've been struggling with getting enough accomplished during the day (not a new problem)- but it seems this week that time disappears and I haven't finished nearly enough things. So tomorrow, I will write out my goals for the month of May. I don't think that I'm slow when it comes to work, perhaps the biggest problem is that I've underestimated the amount of time that it takes to get certain things accomplished. Anyways, also trying to get to bed earlier- so I'm off now to respond to a few emails that need answered tonight and then write my list for tomorrow. Until next time...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Hour?

I have decided that a solution to my time issues would be adding another hour to the day- preferably between 11-1. So what got me on this absolutely useless train of thought? Today was frustrating because I had a ton of things that needed to be done and all I got accomplished (almost) was a grant that is due on Thursday. Now, the grant is important, so it is a significant accomplishment, but I really didn't get to all the other things that I needed to and that gets frustrating. Anyways, enough griping. Today is over and I can't add extra hours to the day- what a wonderful thought though.

So what else is new? Good news! Jen's event in Rockland went well, it raised approximately $1,200. It is such a special feeling to see people come out to support our work and it is really awesome to have an event where I didn't have to do all the work! Jen spent a lot of time and I really appreciate all the effort she made. It is definitely an event that I can see growing, so I hope that Jen does it again next year. There were a couple of auction items that didn't sell- so we have a great Mary Kay cosmetics gift basket for our Anniversary auction. I do have 6 tickets to the Wild West Festival in Marshfield, June 27-29 that I need to sell. Eaton Vance is donating them to us and they didn't sell at the auction. I was surprised that they didn't- it looks like a fun event- bronco riding, live music, BBQ fest, kids activities, horseshoe tournament and other cowboy activities. The tix are $25 each and I don't want them to go to waste because we really need all the funds we can raise. So if anyone is out there and wants to explore their western heritage or watch cowboys doing their thing- let me know! They were being auctioned off for only $15 each.

I've been working on lining up our calendar sponsors- I don't have any confirmed yet which is worrying (to put it mildly). However, I go through this every year and the ads do get sold, but it is stressful. I think it is more difficult this year because of the economy. The calendar needs to get moved up to near top priority since it does go to print in August.

So what else is new? I'm forgetting again- a sign that I'm getting tired. There are other good things going on too, but I'll write about that tomorrow. Now off to have raspberry sherbet (love it!), then read for a bit and write my list for tomorrow (which will basically be everything that I wanted to do today and then some). So until next time friends..

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


So what's new? It was a good day today- nothing special happened (ie. no donations), but I got caught up (sort of) on a lot of fundraising things. I was reaching out to calendar sponsors, anniversary sponsors, auction items and date auction items. I didn't get to work on the Bruins grant or contacting new police/fire departments or nursing homes, but that was OK, because there was a lot of sponsor work that needed to be done. If I was really good, I would get back to work tonight and send out more letters and get those thank you cards out. I had another idea for a special guest for our anniversary event- kind of a wild idea, but hey- aren't all good things wild ideas in the beginning? I don't want to talk about it yet, but I'm going to start working on it and see if we can't get something to happen.

I am excited for tomorrow- one of our supporters, Jennifer, is hosting a fundraising event for us at the Harmon Golf Club in Rockland. It is along the same idea as our anniversary celebration- silent auction, raffle, live music, appetizers, cash bar. She organized a special guest who has a really interesting life story. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow. So today, I dusted off the credit card machine and charged it up- i ran a card tonight and I'll go and process the transaction in a few minutes to make sure that everything is still working OK. It is such a good feeling to get the credit card machine up and running- means money will be coming in!

I'm in the process of switching web hosts- the person who was doing it for the last three years is selling the business, so I had to find a new company. I'm going with a local web hosting company. Gordon had done a great job with our site- he donated all his time and services and I love the way our site looks. The design isn't changing, the new company will take over the updates and we may make a few small changes, but absolutely nothing dramatic. I think that things are going to go well with the new company- the web guy sent our newsletter for us today and I really appreciated the effort that he made to help.

I'm forgetting stuff that I wanted to write about- maybe a sign that I should go to bed- or maybe a sign that I should take notes during the day. Yikes- feel like a grandma doing that one. It's tough sometimes because I have so much stuff going through my head all the time- a lot of it related to work- I feel like I should write things down more often. I actually started to take a little notebook with me recently- to use when I'm waiting (before meetings or events)- I'll take notes on things that I need to do for work or even new ideas related to work. I've only done it a few times, but it is helpful. That's another reason I like driving, because I use it for thinking time as well- I can relax and sort out issues, think about things to be done or new ways to deal with a problem.

Anyways, enough for tonight- off to write my list in my pretty little list notebook (oh yes, I have a pretty notebook for my lists and you know what, it makes me feel happy every time I look at it). Actually off to check the credit card machine, then write my list (list writing is the last thing I do at night.
Until next time friends...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Song Day

It was Project Smile song day today! What a great experience! I don't really know how to describe it- listening as Krysta was singing, I almost had tears in my eyes- realizing that this was actually our song. Who would have ever thought that Project Smile would have its own song? To see these two talented women working so hard, donating their time and energy to support our work, was so great.

Besides the fact that I was watching our song being recorded and that was special in itself, it was my first time ever seeing how the process worked and understanding the time that it takes. We were at Lisa's studio for 3 hours working on the song and there is still a lot of work left to get it radio ready. It is awesome already though!

I'm pretty tired, so I think I need to go to bed. I shouldn't really be so tired- all I was doing was sitting there and giving a little feedback while they were doing all the work. it was a lot of driving though- I met Krysta in Allston then went down to Sharon to meet Lisa, then back to Allston, then home. It was fantastic and I am so happy that I was there while they recorded. This event is going to be awesome, now I need to work on getting people there and getting sponsors and more auction items. OK, now I'm really tired- off to write my list for tomorrow, then bed. Sorry this is such a short posting, there is a lot more to say, but my brain is running too slow. Until next time..

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Song Day Tomorrow

So tomorrow our Project Smile song is being recorded- I am so excited! I love the song(written by one of the women singing it) and both of the women have great voices. Krysta (one of the singers), has her first CD being debuted next month. It is amazing to think that just a few months ago (January), the song was just an idea in my head and now it is about to become a reality. The song will be recorded and then will have its official debut at our Anniversary Event with both ladies performing at the event. I'm also working on having some local radion stations play it and we'll have it on our website for download too (but not until the fall). I think it is the perfect fit for our 5th anniversary.

What else is on the agenda for this week? Lots of the usual stuff- contacting police/fire, grant writing, auction item hunting, sponsor searching, reaching out to calendar sponsors, thank you notes that need to go out, Halloween event work, Jennifer's fundraising event in Rockland on Thursday. Is that all? I'm probably forgetting some things.
Well, I am going to read for a bit, then write my list for tomorrow. I haven't read in a while and I'm really enjoying my book too. So until tomorrow...

Friday, April 18, 2008


Dear Catharine:
I've decided that, unfortunately, I'm not yet ready to return (even as a volunteer) to work.
Perhaps the sunny weather has something to do with it.

That's the email I received at 10:30 this morning from a potential volunteer who was supposed to be coming in at 12:00- same person who, just a couple of days ago, emailed me her resume (I didn't ask for it) and was full of enthusiasm about volunteering and eager to start working again. So how did I respond to her email? I followed the old adage- if one has nothing good to say, then say nothing at all (something I work hard to follow), so I didn't respond. However it was still annoying- for some reason I found the weather comment most annoying. And, it is very annoying when people email news like that instead of calling. Word of advice- when you have bad news to deliver- pick up the phone and call. Text messages or email just doesn't cut it. There are a few exceptions of course, but generally I think that is a pretty good rule. The good thing was that I hadn't wasted time meeting with her, but we had talked on the phone, I had read her resume and I thought she had a lot of potential- so all that in itself was a waste of time and I don't have a heck of a lot of time to waste. It is frustrating when you think that you're going to have some help, especially when she was talking about all the time that she had, and then it turned out to be nothing. I don't get much help, so I had been happy that she seemed really excited to help out.

So what else happened? I heard back from the Letterman show- it's a no go. That was disappointing, especially since I got a little excited when I saw the envelope- thinking that just maybe it was good news- even though it was a suspiciously small envelope. I prefer Leno anyways, so maybe it was my karma! And, to add to the frustrations, State Street Corporation won't be able to sponsor our date auction. So, I still don't have any financial sponsors for the date auction and few potentials. On the good side, our local Best Buy came through with a $50 gift card which is helpful. I haven't decided yet if we'll use it for the raffle or auction.

The funny thing about today was that even with the negative things happening, I still felt pretty good about things. One of the grant questions from that large grant was "list your organization's accomplishments". when I was proofing the grant, I took a step back and read it as if I was an outsider and this was my first time hearing about Project Smile, I couldn't help but be impressed with what we accomplished. I don't mean to boast, it's just that I never think about what we accomplished these past 5 years- my focus is on what needs to be done. That works on a major level, because progress isn't made by sitting in one's chair and looking backwards, but when the future is all you focus on, it is so easy to forget what one achieved. Keeping those achievements in mind also helps deal with all the rejection that comes with fundraising.

So that's the update for tonight. I have to go exercise- I have to be in Boston for
9AM tomorrow morning and won't have time to exercise in the morning (I am so not a morning person!). I wanted to finish up a few letters and thank you cards tonight, but it is too late now. I would go and work if I didn't have to be up at 7:30. So until next time friends...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


So what's new? Today was an interesting day- two new auction items came in the mail today. They are great items too- a $100 gift certificate for dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant at Mohegan Sun and a $100 gift card to dinner at Anthony's Pier 4 Restaurant in Boston, which is a famous place. I was thinking of my envelope blog from a few weeks ago when I picked up the mail today- I was so excited to see the Mohegan Sun envelope, even though it didn't feel thick, I was already thinking there was good news inside it. Then I remembered- hold on! No rejoicing until one actually opens the envelope! But it was good news. I was really happy about the Anthony's Pier 4 donation too, for some reason I hadn't had a good feeling about that one, so it was a happy surprise.

OK, so there were other things going on today. I was at a fire department north of Boston doing our first donation of stuffed animals. It went really well, the Chief took such an interest in our work and I always love talking about Project Smile, so it was great. I mentioned that I was heading to Malden afterwards and the Chief was heading out as well, so he had me follow him towards Malden so I didn't get lost. I don't think he was even heading in that direction. Funny thing was, I was following him through a rotary and somehow managed to take the wrong turn, even though all I had to do was follow his red truck! It was not my brightest moment and I don't even know how it happened. The nice thing was that he turned around and came back for me. It is wonderful how pleasant and helpful people can be- that really made my day (even though I did feel a little dopey).

I did a nursing home donation in Malden with a group of local Bank of America employees. The Malden office did a collection for us last year and this year which worked out great. Last year, we donated to the Malden Fire Deparment. This year, they came along to participate in donating stuffed animals to the nursing home. It went well, but it was still sad. Even though it is sad to be there, it was remarkable to see how some of the ladies react to the stuffed animals. Some of them hold them like babies and cuddle them. One lady asked me what my name was, so she could name the stuffed animal after me (it was a beanie baby ballerina). I do know it makes a difference for the residents, and even though I still feel sad, I think I'm starting to cope with it better. One room was particularly difficult, because the old ladies were in an almost comatose state- it was awful to see, truly awful. The nursing home director had talked about how most of the residents had hardly any visitors. I know I keep talking about the same stuff with the nursing homes and I'm sorry for the repeatition, but even though I'm adjusting to it, visiting these nursing homes is difficult. I still can't erase that almost guilty feeling when I walk outside and breath fresh air, hurry to my car and drive away. Even though there is little else I can do, it just feels so wrong to see people in that situation and I feel so incredibly grateful for all that I have- particularly my health and energy (even though I need more).

OK, well enough on the nursing homes. I still have more work to do on that grant- it is going overnight mail tomorrow, so the end is quite near. I need to do a little editing and put the rest of the packet together, it shouldn't be too time consuming. What's on the agenda for tomorrow? Finishing grant, auction items, police/fire, anniversary sponsors- the usual stuff- and winning the lotto! Off to write my list for tomorrow, the bed. I went to bed at 2am last night, so I can't do the too late nights in a row without feeling it. Until next time friends..

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Better Days

So it was a much better day today. I spent a lot of time working on the grant that's due Friday and was able to get a lot accomplished. I sent it to one of our board members who has a lot of grant experience for her to review. I hadn't done much grant work recently and I think that was part of the reason I was struggling yesterday. It is kind of like exercising- if you don't exercise for a few days, it can be difficult when you start again. I still have some work to do for the grant- photocopying forms and getting the rest of the grant package together, but the hardest part is almost done.

So what else happened today? I did get some work done on our Halloween event, I reached out to another sponsor. There were a lot of items on my list that I didn't get to today (do I ever get it all done??), but that was because of the grant and that was extremely important to get accomplished. There was some good news though- I spoke with a lady who is interested in volunteering. She lives nearby, has work experience, has time to volunteer and wants to help! Sounds great to me! She is coming over on Friday to meet. I really need the additional help, so I am looking forward to meeting with her.

Well, that's the latest. I'm going to go and work on the grant some more, write thank you notes for our latest auction items and respond to emails. I'm off to a Malden nursing home and Lynn fire tomorrow, so I need to get this stuff wrapped up tonight. So until next time friends...

In loving memory: Vincent "Jimmy" Pasacane, April 15, 1906- April 3, 1994.

Monday, April 14, 2008


So today was one of those completely forgettable days. I had a ton of work to do and didn't get very much accomplished, it was a pretty bad day. So what was the problem? I don't really know- I just felt very overwhelmed and stressed. It didn't help when I opened our most recent bank statement and saw in black and white how much money (how little to be exact) we raised last month. Now, to be fair, I hadn't submitted any grants or hosted events, so it wasn't unexpected. However, it is still jarring to look at the numbers and it made me feel very anxious.

However, today is over and tomorrow will be better. How do I know? Because I will follow my list (I forgot to write one last night and it always helps keep me focused) and also, tomorrow is April 15, which is my grandfather's birthday and it is a day that means a lot to me. My grandfather has been gone for 14 years- I was 14 when he died. He was one of the best men that I have ever known and I miss him just as much today as I did all those years ago. He was always afraid that we (my sibs and I) would forget him, and if I could tell him just one thing, it would be that I never forgot him. I may not remember all the stuff we did (I remember a lot though), but I remember how he loved me unconditionally and how happy I always was with him. I don't know if he knew how much I adore him, I hope that he did. One of my favorite photos is from when I was about 4 years old, I was dressed in a fancy dress and I'm holding a cracker or something and I'm standing next to Jimmy, looking up at him and he's looking at me- I have the biggest, happiest grin on my face and that photo just sums up how I felt about him. Jimmy had that photo glued on a piece of cardboard- I saw it for the first time years after he had died when we went through his stuff. So, I like to think that he did know how much he meant to me.

I know I am digressing from Project Smile tonight, I'm sorry for that. I promise tomorrow I will have more productive things to write about! There are actually good things going on as well. Days like this don't happen too often, but I am feeling better about things tonight and will go and write my very extensive list for tomorrow. So until tomorrow...
P.S. Feel free to leave comments- it is always great to know that someone is reading!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Today I did a stuffed animal donation at a Malden nursing home. It was a very impressive facility. Walking in, I felt like I was entering an upscale hotel. It didn't even have that typical nursing home smell- those who have spent any time in a nursing home will know what I mean (it's dreadful). I didn't go beyond the main entrance area, so I can't say for sure what the rest of the place was like, but based on what I saw, it was very clean, nicely decorated and felt like a hotel. Even though I was happy to see such an attractive place, I couldn't help but remember some of the other nursing homes I saw and how unfair it is that some people get to live out their lives in nice surroundings like this place, while others are left in miserable and depressing places. The disparity that exists is so great and so sad. One would think that particularly at the end of someone's life they deserve to spend their time in a pleasant place, regardless of the money they have. But based on what I have seen so clearly in these past few months, that is not the case. As I stood, waiting for the activities director, I looked at the beautiful, sparkling windows, the clean carpets, the staff dressed in crisp uniforms, the almost real looking greenery which gave a courtyard effect to the reception area, and I remembered one nursing home in particular which was the exact opposite of this one, a shockingly miserable place, and i felt so sad and frustrated as well.

So what else happened today? I did our first donation to Newton Fire department and I also spent a little time working on auction items and started work on the big grant which is due next week. Off to write my list for tomorrow and bed. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Latest and Greatest

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I blogged- yikes! It totally didn't feel that long. So what's the latest and greatest? Nothing! Just kidding of course- there is always something happening. A mini crisis erupted today, I can't really go into the details of it yet, but I was able to come to a tentative resolution- once it gets completely resolved, I'll share the details. It was a pretty big problem, so it was a major relief that there was a resolution so quickly. However, it did a lot of time out of the day and there were a lot of things I didn't get to unfourtunatly.

So what else is new? Mostly usual stuff- contacting nursing homes, police/fire departments. I also finally got started on reaching out to sponsors for our Anniversary Celebration, I need to kick that part into high gear though. I took a trip up to Westminster on Friday to pick up a gift item from Wachusett Brewery for our silent auction- it is a really cool item- two beer glasses, $36 gift certificate, signs, coasters and a "growler" beer jug, all in a Wachusett Brewery box. Another item I wish I could bid on! We also received some more restaurant gift certificates. I know it sounds like we have a ton of stuff, but there is still a lot more to do.

I am stressing (not that unusual!)- particularly stressing about finding date auction sponsors. It is extremely difficult and I feel like I'm not approaching it the right way, but I'm not sure how to do things differently. What I do know is that I'm not getting results. So if anyone has suggestions for reaching potential date auction sponsors, please let me know.

I also have to start working on a grant which is due next Tuesday- I know I should have already started, but I've been spending the extra time that usually would have been used for grant writing, on working on auction items and sponsors. So I do need to work on adjusting my time management, so I can fit in time to work on both tasks, as well as all the usual stuff.

Well, I have to go and catch up on thank you cards that need to be sent, I know there are emails that I need to respond to and write my list for tomorrow. So until tomorrow friends...
P.S. Happy Birthday to my bro Vince!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good Day

What a good day it was today! No, no miracle financial donations or angel benefactor swooping down with a million dollar check, but it was a steady productive day and days like that are rock awesome- OK, not as awesome as the days when the checks roll in, but it is still good. So what it made it so great? Well, there was major progress made in our date auction- I can't go into the details, but it was big and I am really happy about it.

I also scheduled donations next week to two Boston area fire departments and made contact with another Boston area department. I also was working (as usual) on our date auction and anniversary items- I called up one restaurant to follow up on my letter and was told that a $50 gift certificate is already in the mail! The restaurant is Tapeo on Newbury Street, Boston- they make the best sangria! I'm also working on getting a gift certificate donated for a helicopter tour, this would be an awesome auction item. I was also working on the usual phone calls and emails. I also reached out to a celebrity comedian/actor who I'm trying to get to be a special guest at our Anniversary Celebration- I can't say who it is yet, but he has Massachusetts connections. When I called today, his office was receptive. So hopefully, there might be a chance. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

There was a lot that I didn't get to today- particularly grant work, Halloween event work and contacting more nursing homes. Even though I didn't get to everything (I usually don't get to everything- if you saw my list, you'd understand), it was still a great day because I was making progress. As long as there is progress, even if it is small, it is a good day.

Anyways, off to write my list for tomorrow, send a few emails, try NOT to eat another slice of pizza and that's about it. I feel like I'm forgetting to write about something- there were other interesting things that happened today, but my mind is going blank. Probably a sign I should go to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back on Track

Ah, the joys of a new day. So today was much better- I feel like I am back on track. There was a lot that I didn't get to today, but it was productive and I feel like that cloud is gone. Working on obtaining these gift certificates has been really interesting- obviously I have worked on getting donated items before, but it hasn't been quite to the same scale that I'm working on getting items for our two events this year. As you probably already know from reading my blog, I've been working on trying to get lots of different items- kayaking trips, flying lessons, museums, white water rafting, etc. Over a week ago, I contacted one place in MA that is known for its outdoor trips. I spoke with the person about donating a gift certificate, she was pleasant, but said they prefer to donate to local chairities and they receive a lot of requests, but that I could email the info to her. I wasn't very encouraged about the likelihood of actually receiving an item, but I knew that one always has to send the letter- that until you actually get a rejection, there is still a possibility. Plus, if I didn't write, then I definitely wouldn't be receiving anything. So today, I received an email and we will be getting a gift certificate! I was so happy because it was a great example of the importance of following through and reaching out, even when you think that it won't work out.

So what's on track for tomorrow? Taking my laptop and cell phone and heading to the beach...kidding of course! I have a lot of police and fire departments to reach and more nursing homes, particularly ones in Malden. Also have to work on getting sponsors for our events- our Anniversary Celebration is also going to have a special tribute recognizing our financial sponsors that got us where we are today. And of course work on obtaining auction items- my goal is to contact 4 potential date auction and 4 Anniversary auction donors daily. I also need to work on grants. I think I'm forgetting something else that needs to be done. Another long list for tomorrow.

Off to exercise for a bit- I didn't get to it this morning. I did get to read tonight which I enjoyed. I'm reading "Pieces of the Heart", such a good book- my sister gave it to me for christmas. So until next time friends..