Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tidying Up

Well, good news to report tonight- my office is clean, I'm almost all caught up with things that needed done and I finished my Fall newsletter (formerly called October news)- hooray! I've turned my PS wall calendar to November already and will turn the desk calendar too when I go back in there. There is something depressing about walking into a room with an outdated calendar and I'd like to avoid that on Monday night. I have a few more emails to send, then I'll be done and ready for my Baltimore trip. I don't travel very often, so it is kind of a big deal when I do. I have to remember to pack a notebook, because I have a long train ride and that will give me good thinking time. I'm excited for my trip, and I'm also excited to come back to work next week, because I feel like I'm turning a page- the events are over, I'm caught up with all the small stuff that has been hanging around, bills are paid, I still have a few auction items that need to get to people, but other than that it is full steam ahead on calendars, grants and regular work and meeting with the event planner on Wednesday.

I did our second donation to DSS today- they are now known as the Department of Children and Families. We donated over 200 stuffed animals and coloring books/crayons as well. I wish we could do more work with them- they have so many children to help and so few resources, it is incredibly difficult. They are working on collecting Christmas gifts for children right now. It is so sad to think of kids not getting gifts. I wish I had the ability- both personally and with Project Smile to do more. We're also working with Goodwill again this year to donate stuffed animals for their childrens party. We had some beautiful boxed stuffed animals donated recently which will be perfect for that.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to Baltimore in the morning- please wish me happy travels! I'm taking my laptop, so I may be blogging from the land of crabs (the good kind). Now I need to go and finish packing (hate packing- I always feel like I'm forgetting things and not taking enough stuff or taking too much), send one more email and get to bed before 1:30. Until next time friends..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday News

So what's new? Not too much- no checks for $50,000 landing in my mailbox today or highly quslified people calling and saying they want to work full time for free... I did get a check for $200 from AidMatrix- that is the program which runs the Virtual Aid Drive on our website. The VAD is the shopping cart page which the donation link goes to on our site, it is a cool way to encourage financial contributions. I stumbled upon it accidentally last year when I was looking for organizations in California to send stuffed animals to for the children who were victims of the forest fires. Our site used to get very few financial donations- less than $100 per year. When I saw the VAD page, I knew we had to get that on our site- it made me want to donate money and I knew that if it made me feel that way, it would work for others. We still don't get a lot of financial donations online (not including calendar sales or tix purchases), but it is a significant improvement.

Today was a mostly quiet day- I was trying to catch up on a lot of things, send out thank you letters, follow up with a number of people, send the updates for our website, clean up my office (that is a work in progress), finish the October newsletter- it is still not done. It is such a simple newsletter, there is no reason that it took this long. It is now going to be renamed Fall News Part I- I will do a Fall News Part 2 in November, then we will get back to regular schedule with the December newsletter. I did get a lot done today, but there are a ton of small things that need finished tomorrow. I am going away to Baltimore on Thursday for a mini vacation, so I want to get things finished, my office cleaned, all emails responded to, etc. before I go away. That way, when I come back, everything will be ready to go and I can start November without looking at a pile of things that should have been done already. I'll be home on Monday.

There was some good news- I decided to call the event planner on Monday. I hadn't heard from her and thought that possibly there was a miscommunication. She called me back a few hours later and things are moving forward- apparently there was a misunderstanding. We are meeting next week to discuss the event in greater detail. I was at a restaurant in Boston tonight that I think would be a perfect venue for a Valentine's themed event.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm feeling a little anxious because time slips by and there is so much I haven't done. I also haven't exercised today- I might go and do that now because it always makes me feel better. I've been slipping a little with the daily exercise and that is not good. I also need to go to bed earlier- somehow 1am is now becoming a 2am bedtime. I know I work better at night, but going to bed that late means that half my morning is gone- I may be awake, but my brain is in a cloud. Tomorrow, I have to be in Boston for a DSS donation, I have a few errands to run, then I'm back here finishing up things and cleaning- I really want to come home to a sparkling, neat office. I was thinking this morning when I was organizing, about a comment that a guy who I was briefly dating made- he told me that he laughed inside every time I mentioned my office. He had never been inside my office, but he knew I worked from home. I didn't say anything when he said that, but it shocked me and it hurt. Right then, I knew things would never work with him- I pretty much already knew that, but that was the clincher. That comment meant that he didn't take me seriously and he didn't take my work seriously. Now, I may not have a fancy office and it may be only 10 ft away from my bedroom and it may be somewhat messy- but I am very proud of it and I respect it as much as if it was on the 50th floor of a downtown skyscraper.

Well, that's it for tonight. It is 12:28 and I'm going to bed- early for a change. Wish me luck tomorrow- I have so many little things to do. Why do the little things always take so long?? Until next tomorrow friends..

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Success!

Our Halloween event was a success! We had a great attendance and lots of positive feedback. All of the safety participants showed up- even those who I didn't think we're going to show since they hadn't called back to confirm. Our volunteers were there and did a great job. It was a terrific event.

I want to thank everyone who helped make it a success- from our sponsors- particularly Paul Davis Restoration who are incredibly supportive, not only do we use their space, but they make a great effort to help put together a great event. It is wonderful when companies make such an effort, particularly in these difficult financial times, to help support our work and this great family event. Carolee, their marketing director, is always so helpful and I couldn't have done it without her. Thank you also to all the safety participants who attended- the Worcester Police, Worcester Fire, Mass State Police, Worcester Sheriff's Dept., CHIPS program, MSPCC- they all did a great job and without them, we wouldn't have a safety event. Thank you to the volunteers and my friends who were such a big help and everyone else who contributed. I never take anyones help for granted and I really appreciate all the people that came together and helped make this a success.

This year we added a balloon artist and a caricature artist- they were both incredibly popular and did an awesome job. The lines were so long for both of them and they stayed late to make sure every child was included. We also added cookie decorating which was a big hit as well.

I was so nervous for a short time on Saturday. For the past 3 years, we had a line at the door which started at about 11:30- last year, the line was well out the door. On Saturday, there was no line. When the event started, we had about 5 people come in at noon. I couldn't believe what I was seeing- or not seeing. I've always believed that as long as I came up with a great event, worked hard and promoted it well- we would have a success- it may be a small success or a big success, but either way, we would be fine. For a few minutes on Saturday, it wasn't fine. For the first time, I knew what it would feel like to have a disaster of an event and it is hideous. I stood, looking out the window- trying to see if there were any people walking over (I couldn't see any)- I can't even describe how I felt. It is a sinking feeling, and the reality of my biggest fear of no one coming to my event is literally breath taking. The idea of disappointing everyone who had contributed to the event, who had bought into what we were trying to do- was horrible. There was nothing I could do except push those feelings away, smile and stroll through the warehouse as if everything was just peachy. All of a sudden, everything changed and we had people! I could finally relax and I could pick up the costume prizes and start giving them out to the kiddies, which is one of my favorite things to do at the event.

Well, it is now 1:20 and I'm ready for bed. I wasn't even planning on blogging tonight. I was driving home and was thinking about our event and then decided that I needed to blog when I got home- which was about 12:30. I'm glad that our events are over, it is great to have a break and not have to work on any events for a little while. However, we do need to do more than 3 events per year. Events are very time consuming, so I need to work on finding a good event planner to work with (I never heard from the event planner who was going to call on Thursday). Tomorrow, I need to finish our October newsletter- yes, that is the same newsletter I've been talking about for well over a week. I have to catch up on letters that need to be sent, finalize things from the Halloween event so I can close the book on that and follow up with the people who I'm holding silent auction items for, so I can finalize that event as well. Then its back to regular work, calendar sales (I have 800 calendars to sell) and grants that need writing. I also want to add some new photos to my blog. Until tomorrow friends... Thank you again to everyone who helped make our 4th Halloween/Child Safety event such a success- I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Around the Corner!

Only two days to go until the big event! I was in Worcester all afternoon getting ready. Carolee and I were working on decorating. We got a lot done, but there is still a good amount to do tomorrow. The tables are arrriving tomorrow morning, so once those arrive we will get them set up, covered and decorated. The pumpkins are being dropped off in the morning as well. I went to the bank and got small change for the event. I remember the first year, we didn't know what to expect and we ran out of dollar bills so quickly. I probably have too many small bills- I felt like I had robbed the bank this morning when I walked out carrying bundles of dollar bills. I am excited for the event, but really worked about the participants showing up and having a good turnout like we've had for the last 3 years. I've stopped calling some groups that flaked off, but there is another big organization that said they were coming last week, but won't return my numerous phone calls to finalize the details and resolve the issues that he mentioned in his voicemail from a week ago- it was actually over a week by now. We're still short on volunteers, but not as badly as we were before. We do have fun activities and lots of candy and the kids will enjoy meeting the police and firefighters and will have a good time. I'm looking forward to the event too- it is so awesome to see all the little munchkins dressed up and to see the warehouse crowded with people- it is somewhat surreal.

What else is new? Not that much- most of the work has been focused on the Halloween event. I still haven't finished my October newsletter. I've been so tired lately, sometimes I feel like I'm getting sick, but I think it is work related- it has been one big thing right after another for a long while and I'm ready to take a little break. However, as soon as this event is over it is full force on calendar sales, grants and back to the usual work. I get really worried about things and that contributes to the tiredness, plus the frustration level of trying to reach people who are unreachable- it is exhausting.

I didn't hear from the event planner today. She had emailed me some great event ideas and I was really looking forward to speaking with her. She sent me an email saying she would call Thursday morning at 10am. I didn't respond to the email, because I didn't think it required a response. She didn't call today or send an email, which was disappointing. I understand that things come up and people can't always get to things, but a quick phone call at some point today or even an email would have been nice. I hope that everything is OK and that I hear from her soon. I know I'm not perfect in getting back to people and I would never expect perfection in other people, but it is important to follow through and do what you saying you are going to do. I need to work with someone who pays attention to details, follows throughs on what they say they will do- no matter how small, and will showcase Project Smile in a way that will help our organization grow. It is pretty simple really. What's even more simple is the fact that I deal with people who don't call me back all the time and there is no way I would choose to work with someone who doesn't call when they say they will. Not only do I find it personally annoying, but professionally, it is a sign of a much larger problem. Anyways, I hope that everything is fine with her and we can move forward. I really had a good meeting with her and was looking forward to working on an event.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm tired and not feeling so good. I have a few more emails to send. I finally found that box I was looking for the other day- it was in my office, stacked among the dozens of other boxes of stuffed animals. I have to be in Worcester for 10am, which means I should have been in bed an hour ago. Then I have to come home tomorrow and peel grapes (mock eyeballs) for the kids to reach their hands into and make up some wet spaghetti- I also need to come up with a couple of other yucky things for kids to feel. I'm so worried about things going smoothly and everyone showing up- not just the kids, but the safety participants and everyone else who has said they will be there- we can't have a successful event without them.

I know people probably laugh at how anxious I get about events and other things, and maybe think I'm just high strung- but it's not that- it's the fact that there is a huge amount of pressure to be successful, to make smart business decisions all by myself for the most part and to grow Project Smile the way it should be. There will probably never come a day when I stop worrying about money- there will come a time when I will worry less, but it will always be there. There's a lot more to say about that subject, but it is now 1:30 and I need to sleep. Until tomorrow friends..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Turtle Day and then Light

We have safety participants! As many people know, I've been stressing about the safety participants who committed to the event many months ago, but have been very unresponsive lately. Stressing is a mild term for what I've been going through- it has been pretty high level of anxiety trying to figure out why my numerous messages weren't being returned and how the heck I was going to deal with hundreds of kids coming to the event expecting to meet troopers, see police dogs and view their special police equipment. But as of an hour ago, almost all is well. One of the most important safety participants confirmed! I am so relieved- I actually feel lighter- honestly. I was so worried and I didn't have a way to fix the problem- there was no Plan B when it comes to having police/fire departments there- I rely on the people who committed to follow through and be there. We're still missing a few other groups, but that is not anywhere as big deal as this group was.

What a roller coaster this job is sometimes- it can go up and down within the course of just a few hours. Today was a pretty lousy day- I moved at turtle pace this morning- I wasn't feeling so good and everything took forever to get done and I couldn't think clearly. The Halloween event was bothering me so much for many reasons and that is very draining. My list has very few check marks next to it. Things got worse this afternoon with an unexpected development and I ended up missing an event that I was supposed to attend which is dreadful. Tonight, I was still stressing about things, but now I can relax somewhat and head to Worcester tomorrow to start hanging cobwebs in a much better mood- and that also means that I don't have to leave yet another "follow up" message on certain people's voicemail.

There was a funny thing that happened today- it has nothing to do with work, but I wanted to share it anyway. I was driving in Milford on a busy road and on the other side of the road, I saw a squirrel run out almost right in front of me. The squirrel ran to the middle of the road, then suddenly stopped on the yellow line and waited- I slowed down, and the squirrel then finished crossing the street. That was the smartest squirrel I've ever seen! If he hadn't stopped, I would have come very close to hitting him. I don't know if that story retells very well, but I found it very cool and had to immediately pick up my cell phone and call my mom to share my squirrel story with her- (there are very few people that I can call at 1pm who would be interested (or at least pretend to be) in my genius squirrel story).

OK, well I am now going into my office to search for the box of Halloween event prizes and table covers that I can't find. I got a lot of stuff at IParty's charity day in July and I put it all in a box in the office and now I can't find the box. I should also work on my October newsletter, but I don't want to stay up too late- it is already 12:15 and I need to be in bed at 1am. The newsletter takes a little while to write.

I am so happy about the safety participants. It looks so bad to have people on the flyer and they don't show up- it reflects poorly on Project Smile even though it may not be something I can control. We had a beauty queen at our event a couple of years ago and she was an 1 1/2 late for the event- I had kids and parents coming up to me upset and annoyed that she wasn't there. There was one little girl who was dressed up in a princess outfit and she kept coming over to find out when the beauty queen was arriving- she was so excited to meet her. All I could say was she was on her way- but after an hour and a half, that line wears pretty thin. She and her mom left before the beauty queen arrived. The kids love to meet the police officers and fire fighters and see their equipment up close, so the idea of disappointing by not having them there is awful. It is particularly awful since it is Worcester and there are a lot of low income families and kids who may have had a lot of disappointment in their lives because of their economic circumstances, so the last thing I want to do is add to that.

OK- I am now off to hunt for that box and then write my list which is basically everything that was on today's list and then some. A friend of mine suggested cookie decorating for an event activity, so I need to get the supplies for that. She actually suggested it a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't think it would work, but we talked about it more tonight and it could work out really well. My concern is the cost of supplies since we have so many children attending. We're under sponsored for the event and already spent more money than last year. It will still raise money, but the profit shrinks every time I turn around- and there comes a point where I can't spend another dollar. Anyways, enough on that- lets keep the good mood going. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween Only 5 Days Away

Halloween is only 5 days away! OK, I know it's not the real Halloween, but it is the Project Smile Halloween. I finished all the elementary schools on Friday, that is where the vast majority of our guests come from. I was back in Worcester today, met with Carolee, the marketing director at Paul Davis Restoration (she is an awesome person). We went over the layout for the event, table placement and finalized our list of what needs to be done, then we went to B.J.'s- our annual trip to load up on Halloween candy. We've done it so many times now that we can load up the trolley with the exact amount of candy that our budget allows, without even counting. I'm not in Worcester tomorrow, but I'll be back there Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I still haven't heard back from a number of safety participants who had committed to participate and I've had some other groups flake off, but we're going to work with what we have and no one needs to know about what we could have had. It will be great.

A funny thing happened today- I was in a bit of a bad mood when I came back from Worcester. I was making follow up calls- trying to reach Halloween participants who won't respond and some other things that weren't going very well. I hadn't gone to the post office to get the mail and part of me didn't want to bothered- I was feeling pretty frustrated about things and didn't feel like looking at anything else today. Anyways, I decided that it would do me good to step away for a couple of minutes, so I got the mail and there was a check for $1,000! It is amazing what an affect money has on a gloomy mood- talk about a miracle drug! It was from a company that had their annual BBQ event in the summer and also hosted a fund raising event at the same time. The company chose Project Smile as the recipient from over a dozen charities. During the event they had a dunk tank, employees could make a $1 donation and choose a manager who they wanted to try to dunk. The company would then match the donation up to $500. How cool is that? The company's head had originally planned on coming to our anniversary event to present the check, but wasn't able to make it. I had no idea the size of the donation when they had called last month to inquire about the anniversary celebration. So that was really good news and a nice surprise.

I did hear back from the event planner tonight. I decided to call her in case she had emailed me and I didn't receive it. So I left her a message following up with her and she sent me an email with 3 really good fundraising event ideas. I'll look at them more closely tomorrow and get back to her. We'll be choosing one event to work on for right now- there is one in particular that she suggested which I really like a lot.

So what's on for tomorrow? Our October newsletter- it needs to be done urgently, some grant work, police/fire contacts, calendar sales and getting out the Halloween decorations and costume prizes in the office which need to head to Worcester (I have a collection of Halloween stuffed animals as well that were donated over the year), then I have to work on pulling volunteers out of thin air and hounding more safety participants. I can't wait for the Halloween event so I can wear my Halloween outfit which I am totally in love with. I have other things to do as well tomorrow, but can't remember right now. I need to go and write my list- I've been slipping somewhat with my list writing recently and that is not good. My list book focuses my day and controls the overwhelmness (I don't think that's a word is it?) that can set in sometimes.

I'm off to bed- until tomorrow friends.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Worcester and Halloween Stress

So what's new? I was back working in Worcester today- I reached 10 elementary schools today and I have 9 more to go tomorrow. It has been a long, rocky week- there is a personal and work related issue that has been really stressful as well, but will hopefully be resolved soon. The Halloween event is still in trouble- we've lost a few more participants- people that committed months ago to attend our event and now back out, only a week before and leave me with no options to find replacements. It is incredibly frustrating. There are other people that have yet to confirm- these are important safety participants as well. I really don't understand why it takes so long for people to respond, I know I'm not perfect- but when someone leaves three messages and all you have to do is call back and say 'yes, I'll be there' or "no, I won't"- it only takes 30 seconds.

I don't what to keep griping, but it is really troubling to have an event lined up and people that aren't going to be there and others who won't get back to me- and there is little that I can do. This event was supposed to have been all set months ago.

I haven't heard back yet from the event planner who I met with last Thursday. I thought she had said she would be getting back within a week and I was really looking forward to seeing what ideas she had and hopefully working with her. She seemed enthusiastic about it too and also seemed very professional, so maybe I will hear from her soon.

Tomorrow, I'm back to finish the elementary schools in Worcester and then maybe head to the warehouse to go over some details for the event. Then I have to be here to work on reaching more Halloween participants, doing our October newsletter and sending info to Lisa for our event program and I need more event volunteers- that isn't going very well either.

Well, I'm off to bed. I really don't mean to be gloom and doom- it's just difficult right now with the way things are going with this event and other issues that I have to sort out. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Worcester Days

12 schools down- 19 to go! I was in Worcester today distributing our Halloween event flyers to the elementary schools. It went pretty well, except I got a late start and didn't get to as many schools as I wanted. It really takes a while. I'm not in Worcester tomorrow, have things that need to get done in the office, but I'm back up there on Thursday and Friday morning, then of course, next week- getting everything ready. It is really frustrating because a lot of safety participants aren't returning my phone calls to confirm that they are actually going to be attending the event. These are all people that committed to the event months ago and now they all seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. I'm doing everything I can do- keep calling and leaving messages. I understand people are busy, but no one is so busy they can't make a quick phone. It is pretty difficult to have a Halloween/Child Safety event without safety participants. Things will work out and we will have a great event for the kids no matter what, but it is very frustrating when people are unresponsive, particularly when you really need them.

10 years ago, when I was 18, I had an internship at ABC News New York. Part of work included verifying facts for an upcoming documentary, so I had to make a lot of phone calls. It was incredible how fast phone calls were returned when you said you were calling from ABC News- of course no one knew that I was a lowly intern. It was fantastic and I wish I had that again.

I was thinking when I was driving home today about a comment someone made to me recently. They were talking about the economy and asked me what I was going to do with Project Smile- the veiled suggestion (not so veiled actually, since the next question they asked was when I was going to start looking for other work) was that we wouldn't survive the economic downturn. I answered the question as politely as I could- telling them how our overhead is low, etc. and also pointing out that our service becomes even greater in the face of economic downturn as the rates of domestic violence and abuse spike in times when families face even greater pressures. For someone to suggest that my organization, which has grown steadily for the last 5 years, is somehow going to fold because the economy is tanking, is pretty obnoxious. I fight for every penny that Project Smile raises and it never comes easily and I work hard to hold onto this dream, this vision that I see so clearly of Project Smile becoming a national charity, so that someday it will become a reality. I have stared down far greater adversaties when I was much younger than I am today and I am the better woman for it. I have seen first hand the tragedy of unrealized potential and broken dreams and I vowed many years ago to never be that person. So of course it is insulting when people suggest that the business you run, that you work so hard to make successful, isn't going to survive. We are going to do better than survive, we will grow and thrive.

Anyways, that also got me onto my next thoughts- how much I need an assistant. I don't mean that in the lazy sense, so I can farm out the work that I don't want to do- although that would be great- I need serious help because I can't get everything done and I'm not getting a sufficient amount accomplished by myself. I know I talk about this all the time, but I met someone today at a networking event that might be a good fit as an assistant. The issue is bottom line and I don't know what the best thing to do is. I know that the safest thing is to keep costs low and don't hire anyone, however, that is not necessarily the best decision. I'm not a gambler and I never make risky decisions. It is a lot to think about and I need to decide what the best course of action is for us. Of course it would be great to have volunteers who could help, but I haven't had much success in finding committed volunteers who can provide what we truly need. The flake factor with volunteers is incredibly high.

Well, it is 1:30 and I need to go to bed. I also have to write my list for tomorrow- have so much to do. I was back on track with exercising this morning, which was good. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Break Day

Well, I took today as a vacation day- however, I didn't realize how few people actually have Columbus Day off work. I did work a little this morning- sent some emails, made some follow up calls and then picked up our 17,000 halloween flyers which I'm starting to distribute tomorrow. The good news on the flyers was that I was able to save $100 by having them printed on lighter weight paper. The even better news was that they printed it on the regular paper, but charged me for the lighter weight paper!

There is a funny story that happened from this weekend. On Saturday night, my car broke down on the way home (that was obviously not the funny part). It broke down in the middle of the exit ramp in Hopkinton off Rt. 495, which is a pretty lousy place to breakdown. I got out of the car with my friend and we're standing in the median and I called the police for assistance. I was transferred to a trooper and it turns out it is the trooper who is featured in our calendar with his children! It was such a coincidence. So there I am, standing in the grass, in the dark, watching my poor car in the middle of the ramp, hoping that no one hits it and really hoping that no one gets distracted by my car, swerves and plows into both of us- all the while having a conversation about Project Smile- it was surreal. The best part was that the trooper told me that he had actually given out our stuffed animals that very day. He responded to a rollover on Rt. 495 which involved three children in the car (they were luckily not injured), he gave them the stuffed animals and said that it really made a difference for them and helped calm them. I was so happy to hear that story. It is always wonderful to hear feedback and particularly, while standing on the side of the road in that situation, it was great to hear something positive.

So what's on the schedule for this week? Halloween flyers! This is a 2 1/2 day operation. I have to distribute flyers to every elementary school in Worcester (there are many). The flyers are all collated into stacks of 25. It doesn't sound like it would take so long, but it takes for ages. I don't usually get to Worcester until about 10:15, mostly because I want to miss the rush hour traffic, then I need to be done before the buses start leaving, because that is a nightmare to deal with. Dealing with Worcester drivers is also a pain- some of them drive as if they are insane.

I also have ions of work to do for the Halloween event and trying to reach more people who are supposed to be participating, but haven't called me back. Ions- what a wonderfully dramatic word! One good piece of news- we have a professional caricature/face painting artist who will be at the event. So I am really glad that he will be there. The kids will love his work. I know the event sounds like a bit of a mess, it is going to be great- we have a lot of fun activities lined up. The problem is getting the safety participants to confirm their participation. Then the next big issue after the flyers is getting the warehouse decorated and ready for the show.

This week, I also have to keep working on calendar sales and contacting more police/fire departments. I need to get back to my proper exercise routine- it has been a little haphazard lately. I'm now off to pull out my list of Worcester elementary schools- all organized into quadrants- for tomorrow, send a couple of more emails, then have some yogurt, put some photos into my new photo album I bought today at Target and watch Jay Leno. I think this is one of the earliest postings I've done- it is only 11:15.

It was really nice to take most of the day off work today. I felt a little guilty at first when I found out how many other people were working, but I had already planned for a few weeks that today would be a day off, so I didn't want to change that. A while ago, I flipped through a book about highly successful business people- the guy who wrote it firmly believed in taking off every holiday and time on the weekends. I think that it is important. OK, I'm going to stop now because I feel like I'm getting ready to start rambling- until tomorrow friends.. wish me happy Worcester driving!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wonderful Break

This is going to be a super fast blog- my goal is to be in bed in 12 minutes. I have to be up early tomorrow morning and it is already approaching 2am. So what's new? Well, I had a wonderful afternoon today and it had nothing to do with work! The morning got off to a lousy start with an annoying email, but I moved through some things quickly, got the grant in the mail and went to my 1:30 meeting with the event planner- it went really well and hopefully we will be able to work together on fundraising events. By the time I was done with that, it was a little after 3pm- I was going to the circus (for the very first time!) and could have gone back to work, but decided to go into Boston, enjoy the fantastic afternoon, pick up my tickets and relax! It was wonderful. I'm so used to being rushed and always heading to one place or another, it was great to be in the city and not have anywhere that I needed to be for 3 hours. I walked around a little, read for a little, had a delicious sandwich- I can't begin to explain just how happy I felt. Then I went to the circus which was kick ass awesome! I'm still riding my circus high.

So what's my point in sharing my afternoon? It is so important to take a break and really relax. I already knew it was important, but I don't do it very often. I take breaks, but even when I'm not working- I'm thinking about work. This afternoon was so unusual because I didn't think about work- I did have one work related call, but it was with someone that I'm close with. The rest of the time, I just enjoyed the moment. I really need to do this more often. As you probably already know, I love my job, so it's not that I want to get away from work, I want to take a break from the stress and pressure.

There is a lot more that I wanted to write about, but it is already 2:18 and I need to sleep. I already exercised tonight- which is part of the reason why I'm going to bed this late. I hadn't exercised in a week and couldn't go any longer, and in the morning I won't have time- so that means midnite cardio blast it was. I'm going to be on the road for a good portion of tomorrow.

If there is anyone out there who hasn't been to the circus (I think I'm the only one who's 28 and never been)- please go! It is tons of fun. I'm off to bed- still on my circus high...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Getting Back on Track

Things were getting back on track today- I'm feeling back to normal. Thank you so much to whoever left that nice posting on my blog last night, telling me to feel better. It still amazes me that people actually read my blog- so when they take the time to comment- it is extra amazing!

So what's new? I was working on a grant that is due on Friday. It needs to be overnighted tomorrow. It is done, but I'm sitting with it- I have a tendency to do that- sit and look at the grant for an extensive period of time- making sure that I have everything right and it is presented the best way possible. This one is pretty simple, but I haven't written any grants in a couple of months, so I'm paying extra attention to it. I was just proofing it a few minutes ago and was getting upset thinking about how much time I have to spend fundraising and how that takes away from our actual service- distributing the stuffed animals and other items. It is a very hard situation to be in, because without the funds, there is no program and I have no job- but of course, our program is our whole reason for existence, so in a certain way I feel guilty when I have to focus so much time on fundraising. As long as I'm the only person running Project Smile, there isn't really a solution to the problem. I need help- I need someone to come in and work on our program full time or someone who can work full time on fundraising. They are both full time jobs. But until the day comes when I have the money to hire someone, our problem will be here.

There is so much that I can't get to during the day and it is actually pretty dreadful. There are an incredible number of police/fire departments to contact, more public speaking, events that could be planned, grants to be identified and written, more donations to Department of Children and Families, more nursing homes outreach, more development of our online presence and recruitment of volunteers, more development of corporation participation- the list goes on. I know that everything is small steps, but it is frustrating to know, to see how things should be and contrast that with the reality I face every day. I am proud of how far we've come in 5 years, but that doesn't change the situation. There is no way I can spend less time fundraising- I don't actually spend enough time on it- and we already run on bare bones. There is no fluff in our budget.

I don't mean to sound so frazzled- I try to avoid thinking along those lines and just keep breaking things down into small pieces and working as hard as I can and try to balance things the best way I know how. We've reached 20 new police/fire departments this year, expanded to nursing homes and working with children entering foster care- so we are definitely making progess. I just want it to be more- want to accomplish more. But at the same time, one can't run a business or live a life on love alone- the bills keep coming in, the car still needs gas, phone needs to be paid, items do need purchased and girlie does need a salary so she can live.

Well, that's it for tonight- I'm not trying to be a debbie downer- was actually in a good mood earlier today, working on the grant, getting auction items to people and working on the halloween event- basically being productive. Things are still not sorted out about Halloween participants. I was trying to book a magician for the event- I spoke to a few, but they all wanted a fee that was well beyond anything we could afford- $450 for a 1 hour magic performance- at a charity event for children in Worcester. I did find someone at a reduced rate who is a magician, but he is going to do balloon animals/decorations for the kids. Now I need to come up with some more fun activities and get the flyers printed. I'm still trying to follow up with some of the safety participants who commited to the event, but now are unresponsive. I think one of the organizations might have gone out of business- their phone just rings and rings and no one responded to my email yesterday. If I didn't have to spend so much time following up with people- I honestly could add 2 more hours to each workday- at least. It's probably closer to 3.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with a woman who runs a marketing/pr company. So hopefully it will go well and we will be able to work together. OK friends, I am off to print my grant application and get it ready to be mailed in the morning. Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Long Day

Today was a strange day- it literally felt like one of the longest days ever. It wasn't because I was doing nothing- I was working, and it wasn't because I was really busy- I've had busier days. It was probably because I felt really lousy, particularly this morning. 1pm came and I thought it should have been 4pm and even tonight, it's a little after 11 and I think it should be around 1am. I'm not even all that sick, I've defintely been sicker. Anyways, enough in the complaints department.

So what's new besides my issues with the clock? Well, I was working on the halloween event- it needs a lot of work and is getting kind of frustrating. We are short on volunteers, people that confirmed they were participating months ago have suddenly disappeared off the radar, we have less sponsorship money than previous years, and I have to spend a substantial amount of money to help copy the flyers (15,000 flyers). I already knew about the last two issues, but today it was particularly frustrating. To be perfectly honest, I haven't put enough time into this event as I wish I could have. I did a lot of work early on and got participants lined up. I thought I had two large volunteer groups committed, but they un-committed. I hadn't spoken to a lot of the people that were participating because I was so busy working on the other two huge events, and now, things are not where they need to be. I'm working hard to get things to come together and resolve some issues, so things will work out. I'm in a bit of panic mode right now with this event.

There is one thing that I totally don't understand- when people bid on silent auction items that they don't want. That is pretty odd. It happened with one of the gift certificates that was auctioned off on Friday. I called the winner today and he didn't sound very happy about winning the bid- it was a membership for a warehouse store. He told me that he already had a membership and didn't want it. Of course I wanted to ask him why he bid on it, but I decided that I really didn't need to know the answer. That happened as well with a girl who bid on theatre tickets at the date auction. She didn't want them either, but at least she gave me the money. I really don't understand that- no one is forcing you to bid, so if you don't want the item, don't write your name, phone number and a dollar amount on the sheet! I also had another person that bid on a limo ride, except I can't read the phone number. I tried every combination that I could figure, but finally gave up and called the next person- it was only $5 less. She was happy to get the gift certificate.

Well, I'm starting to feel really lousy again, so I'm going to bed. I haven't exercised in a week which is really bad and I totally feel it. I just want to feel normal and get things back on track with Halloween, calendar sales, the grant that is due on Friday and cleaning up my office. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, October 6, 2008

Slow Day

Well, today wasn't very productive- I was feeling pretty lousy. I'm fighting off a cold, so as long as I keep fighting it, I'll be fine, but I didn't get a ton of work done. I was working though- it just that it felt like I was moving really slowly. I was working on finalizing the numbers from the big event- getting the money in the bank (what a wonderful feeling!), contacting people that left bids on auction items (there were a lot) and following up with other people. I'm trying to get everything finished up from the two events, so I can put the files away. It's not that easy because I still have a date auction item that needs to be paid for and a raffle item in which the envelope keeps getting returned even though the winner says I have the right address. So the file can't go away until those two items are straightened out. I was also sending our web host all the updates for our site. I hate having an outdated site. If an event happens, it needs to be off the site immediately. There is nothing worse than visiting site that has outdated info on it, even if it is a couple of days old, it looks sloppy.

I have so much work to do, I can't get any sicker. Our Halloween event needs a ton of attention, we particularly need event volunteers because we lost the two big school groups that helped us out last year. the event requires a lot of volunteers in order to run smoothly. Then I have a grant that is due on Friday which I'll be working on tomorrow. And I need to continue getting auction items to people and other follow up calls/emails, etc. I also need to get working on calendar sales.

I was thinking today about sick time. I started work later this morning and just plugged along slowly. I'm lucky that if I'm sick, I can take the day off work without worrying about sick days or showing a doctors note or losing a day's pay. I believe that typical 5 sick days a week isn't sufficient. When I get into the position of hiring employees, I will have a generous sick policy. There is nothing worse than being forced to work when you're sick, plus who wants a sick person coming into work and spreading germs? A long time ago, I had a waitressing job- they didn't have sick days- you had to show up or find a someone to swap. I had a horrendous cold and called the manager to try to explain why I couldn't come in. I couldn't find anyone to swap with. She said I had to either come in or get a doctors note. Well, I had health insurance, but it had a $300 dedeuctible and I couldn't afford the $80 to get a note. So I went to work with my red, runny nose and a hacking cough. It was absolutely gross. I thought they would send me home, but I had to stay and serve customers for two hours. I did the best I could not to spread germs, but to have a waitress with a miserable cold serve you food is pretty disgusting.

Anyways, that's my view on sick days- let people take them when they need them without punishing them for things they can't control. Now, I'm going to go blow my nose yet again, eat an apple with honey and walnuts if I can find them in the kitchen and go to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Success and Thank You!

We had successs! People turned up and had a good time, everything went smoothly and we raised a good amount of money! I am so happy and so relieved. I want to thank everyone who showed up tonight, I can't even begin to explain how much it means to me. Thank you as well to everyone who volunteered and helped out tonight to make everything go well. Mike did a great job with the LCD projector and taking tons of photos (I can't wait to see them!). Lisa and Krysta did a fantastic job singing our song. Jennifer and Alison and Carolee helped with registration and payment. Dick Ferrucci did a fantastic job as host and auctioneer. A big thank you to Gail Huff and J.C. Monahan- they were perfect! It was so awesome that they attended. To all my friends who were there- thank you for making the effort and supporting my work so much. Basically, I just want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who was there and everyone who so generously helped sponsor our event and has supported our work.

The hotel did a great job- Tom, the banquet manager was a big help in making our display look more attractive. He really made an effort to decorate and the room looked terrific. The balloons looked great too- the lady at the balloon store had recommended the color scheme and it looked so pretty. Anders, the jazz musician did a great job. Kim and the Silpada lady had great looking tables too. The Beija Rum was a huge hit- everyone loved the drinks!

I know I'm rambling- but I'm so happy and just want everyone to know how much I appreciate their support. I'm so glad that it went well. Besides the money we raised and the success of the event, I am glad that I made a good business decision for Project Smile in hosting this event. The inredible amount of time that was spent- time that took away from our core mission- was absolutely worth it. There is a lot of pressure when you're responsible for every business decision made and now, with the success of tonight's event, a little of that burdent is lifted.

So how much did we raise? Preliminary number is $7,500, but that doesn't include the large amount of auction items that people bid on but had to leave before the event ended. I don't count that money until it is in hand. So I need to recount everything to make sure I didn't make mistakes.

I am now going to have a slice of chocolate anniversary cake that I brought home, then go to sleep- it is 1:20. Tomorrow, I'm returning the PA system we rented, then calling the people who left bids. It is always fun to see who bought what items- I really enjoy that.
Anyways, off I go. Good night friends! Thank you again to everyone who helped make tonight a success!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Well, here we are- only 18 hours away from our big event. It's funny when you think of time- in 18 hours we are celebrating 5 years of Project Smile. 5 years ago, it was still barely more than an idea. It is funny to think of how things have changed, how much I have learned, how far we have come- and how much further we have to go. Personally, I've learned so much. I feel like a better person because of the job that I have and I am so grateful for all the opportunities that it gives me. Of course, it is not perfect- very far from it. There is a lot of stress and anxiety and an incredible amount of pressure- more than what I ever could have imagined, but I can't think of another job that I want. I am proud of our 5 years of work and excited for what the next five years and what the next 10, 20 years will bring.

I wish for three things tomorrow- that everything runs smoothly, that people show up and we raise a lot of money. So if I had a magical genie, that's what I would ask for. I'm very nervous, but excited too. Whatever happens, I know I worked as hard as I could to do a great event- but that knowledge would be poor comfort if tomorrow was not successful. I think I've remembered everything that I need. I picked up our cake- it is beautiful! In the morning, I'll pick up the PA system. Then loading up the cars and heading to the hotel to set up. I feel so teary right now- probably because I'm so tired and anxious.

I am off to bed. Please wish me all the best tomorrow- I need your support!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Late Night

Only two days to go! Last night, I literally stayed up the entire night working on anniversary things. I didn't mean to work that late, it just happened. I went back to work after blogging- was working on the bid sheets and then 1am became 2am, became 3am and I was going to go to bed, but I was sitting in my chair and suddenly started writing my speech in my head, so I figured it would probably be best to actually write it. Then that inspired me to keep working and suddenly I could start hearing birds outside and it was 6am and I was still sitting at the computer. I've never stayed up all night in my life- even in college. I went to sleep for a few hours and then was back to work. I feel better about certain things- we have volunteers definitely coming to help with the registration table, the musicians are confirmed, I spoke with Gail Huff and JC Monahan this morning and they are all set, I've decided to do a live auction for the TV Diner certificate and the Southwest tickets and I've done a mental walk through of the event. I did some final touches on our photo montage which will play while Krysta and Lisa sing- I think it looks really good. It is a few seconds longer than the song, but I really can't cut anymore photos. Both montages are all set now and saved on my laptop and a CD. I'm so glad that we have help with the LCD projector- Michael is also coming to the event to hook everything up and make sure it runs smoothly. I really appreciate his help- it is so awesome when people step up to help without even being asked. It doesn't happen very often!

My major concern is of course the same thing- people showing up. I'm going to keep following up with people tomorrow, but I've done as much as I can- I really don't know what else is possible. If everyone who says they are coming actually shows up, then we will be OK. I'm so nervous- I try to ignore how nervous I am, but that's kind of difficult to do. I need it to be successful so badly and have worked so hard these past 9 months, spent so much time- I have to be able to justify it.

Anyways, I need to stop. It is midnite and I have to get to bed at a decent hour- I'll be a wreck tomorrow if I come close to repeating last night. Tomorrow, I am picking up our Trader Joe's gift basket donation, the Gallo toy truck, Hannaford fruit basket and then, later in the day, picking up our anniversary cake in Braintree. I'd rather pick it up tomorrow than run up there on Friday morning. I love their cakes and can't wait to see ours- I actually can't remember what I ordered! I also have to get small bills out of bank, go over my speech, print raffle lists, make more calls, paint my toes- it's a pre-event ritual. Another pre-event ritual is not going out the night before a big event. Well, until tomorrow friends... keep wishing me luck for Friday!