Thursday, February 28, 2008

Office Expansion

Hello! What a busy week! I am really happy tonight, because my office is looking really good! Our absolutely wonderful computer guy came yesterday and today and set up wireless internet in my office, got my laptop networked with my desktop and then ended up having to fix my laptop as well. So now I have a perfectly functioning second desk all ready to go for our new volunteer who is starting tomorrow. I can't tell you how much I need the office help- there is a absolute ton of work that needs to get done and there is a limited amount that I can get to each day. We're really at the point where a full time second person is needed, but due to budget issues I'm not sure how feasible that is. However, at least now the office is all set up for the second person and maybe our volunteers will be able to help out even more!

As I was cleaning up the office tonight I felt really happy looking at the new office set up (we've had volunteers coming in before), but now that there is an official second desk with a fully functioning computer and printer access- it feels different. I can't help but think of what it was like just a few short years ago when we had so little. We still don't have much, but I feel like this is the first step towards having full time help.

Anyways, I have to go finish up a few emails and get back to organizing my desk (it is almost done!). Until next time..which will probably be tomorrow- weatherman says it is supposed to snow tomorrow night, so I'll probably be staying in and catch up on some things and blogging- because there is a lot of other stuff to talk about!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Latest and Greatest

Today was kind of a funny day- I was having trouble getting motivated during the day and was getting a little discouraged about stuff, then suddenly at about 5pm I had a major burst of energy (probably due to my 3rd cup of tea) and ended up getting quite a bit of stuff accomplished tonight. The major thing I'm having difficulty with is getting sponsors for the date auction. Now, I've only just started contacting businesses, but I'm not sure if I'm presenting all my info in the best possible way. Unfourtunatly, I don't have anyone else to take a look at it. I think some of this may simply be my anxiety about finding sponsors, because I have reread everything that I'm sending out and don't know how it could be improved upon. Tomorrow, I need to keep working on our list of potential sponsors. Not having fundraised in Boston, I don't have much knowledge of businesses that would be the best fit for our event, but that's what the internet is for!

What else is going on? I didn't get to call any nursing homes today, that is on the list for tomorrow. I did contact some police/fire departments out in the middle of the state- there was a high school in that area that did a collection for us, so we're making sure to reach the departments that are in their area.

I was also working on getting our auction items- as always! I need to double up the effort on getting items for the silent auction that we're doing during the date auction as well. Tomorrow, I need to contact our board member to see if he'll be able to get a tv or other special item donated for our auction- that would be terrific!

Well, I'm off to write my list for tomorrow, finish up a letter and then make my bed! Until next time..

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today's News

Hello! My desk is a mess! For anyone who has ever been to my office, that is probably not a surprise, but tomorrow it definitely needs cleaning. There's a snowstorm coming tomorrow, so office cleaning will probably actually be quite a good task. I did a stuffed animal donation this morning to a nursing home in Milford, this one I actually liked. I didn't actually get to see beyond the entrance area, but it did strike me how bright and pleasant looking the place was and seemed to have a nice atmosphere- quite a change from some of the other places I've been to lately.

I was also working on more donations for our silent auction- I contacted 4 businesses today. I also have a few letters that I need to send out tomorrow for auction items. There is also quite a bit of work that needs done for the date auction- working out the final details on the contract (that is actually relatively easy), finding hosts and obtaining sponsors. Amy, our awesome volunteer, is working on getting gift certificate donations for the "couples" to use on their dates and also for our silent auction.

I think I should write my blog earlier in the day- I'm feeling so tired and forgetting a lot of stuff that I wanted to write about. I actually am a night person too, so this really shouldn't be happening!
Ah well, I'll write tomorrow as the snow falls...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I started out a little unmotivated this morning- I had my daily list of work items and kept staring at it as if the items would suddenly become checked off all by their selves!But I started writing a thank you note to the owner of the company that made the $50 donation yesterday and that suddenly inspired me. It is funny how a little thing can set the day going in the right direction. It ended up being pretty productive. I had to spend quite a bit of a time on our Halloween event sponsorship proposal for a large bank- they asked for a lot more details than most of the other businesses usually do. Hopefully, it will be worth it and they will become a new sponsor.

I also talked to two musicians who are interested in performing at the April 24 event which one of our supporters is organizing. I had spoken with another one yesterday. They all have Berklee connections. I absolutely love speaking with musicians- I am always impressed by anyone in the performing arts. To have the dedication and courage to follow your passion is absolutely wonderful. It is difficult to select a particular musician, right now the biggest factor will be cost. Our budget is small and this is a fundraising event, so I need to keep the costs to a minimum.

There is actually lots more other stuff to talk about- mostly little things, but the day is ending and I'm getting very tired. So until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Keeping on Track

OK, So I am struggling with blogging every day (or almost every day). I want to keep this as updated as possible, no one wants to hear old info! I just need to follow that old guideline about doing things 21 days straight and then it becomes a habit. Anyways, so what's new? I took the last couple of days off- holiday and weekend. However, I am happy to report that the problem with the hardware store was resolved. I contacted their corporate office and they were very understanding, the local store became responsive and ultimately made a gift certificate donation. Now, I can return to shopping their happily, knowing that they do in fact have some level of interest in community organizations.

Today was actually quite a good day- we received our first financial donation in support of our Anniversary Celebration. It was actually quite unexpected- I called a Hopedale business that my family have been customers of and asked about a gift certificate or item donation for our charity event. They called back within an hour and offered a $50 cash donation in support of our event- terrific! I also picked up a $25 gift certificate to the absolutely fantastic bakery Konditor Meister in Braintree- they make the most beautiful and delicious cakes. That gift certificate will go towards purchasing our Anniversary event cake. I also picked up a membership donation from B.J's Wholesale Club. So far, we have some really cool auction items. Sturbridge Village also donated an admission pass as well. It really helps to start early- takes a lot of pressure off and I think it helps to start early when some companies have more donation money in their budgets.

I didn't have a lot of time to make phone calls to police, fire and nursing homes today, but will get back to that tomorrow. I'll be in the office almost all day. I also need to keep working on getting more sponsors for our Halloween event- I have found fundraising in Worcester to be actually quite difficult. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm also meeting with a local woman who is interested in volunteering- which is always helpful!
Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busy, Busy!

Busy, busy! So much to do and I'm still trying to catch up at 11:30- I got a bit of a late start today, so that definitely has something to do with it. My goal was to blog everyday (Sun-Thursday), but I haven't been doing too well on that lately.

So what's new? We had our board meeting on Monday night, which went well, not everyone could make it, which was disappointing, but it was still productive. We reviewed the finances from last year, outlined this year's fundraising goals an general updates on where the program stands. We also discussed our two big events this year- the date auction and our Anniversary Celebration on October 3, which is huge- it is our 5th anniversary- so that is really exciting.

With our new Elder Care program that is taking up a lot of time, so I've been feeling a lot of pressure to fit everything else in as well. One of my goals is to reach out to new corporations and meet with them to introduce Project Smile. I feel like I don't have enough time to make as many phone calls as I need to. I also spend time each day reaching three businesses to donate items for our silent auction, that way it doesn't become overwhelming as the event gets closer and I think it always helps to ask as far in advance as possible.

I have found it frustrating when contacting certain businesses that I have been a really good customer of and not even getting a phone call back. There is one business, a hardware store (won't mention the name right now) that I have shopped at since I was a teenager, my dad shopped there, my grandfather shopped there and I called them up to find out about donating a gift card or item for our auction and I was referred to their operations manager. I have left 4 messages for him and haven't had a single call back. Now, I'm not saying that they have to donate, I understand businesses get contacted by charities all the time. However, not returning a phone call is simply rude. I'm going to contact their corporate office because as a customer of their store, I find it disturbing that they take so little interest in the work of a local charity. I'll keep you updated.

Back to work- I have to finish off a letter to a Worcester business that helped sponsor our Halloween and Child Safety Event last year. Hopefully, they will continue to support our event!
Until next time..

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Positive Response from Nursing Homes

I'm really happy about how receptive the nursing homes are for our Elder Care program- we are donating stuffed animal gifts for the elderly residents of nursing homes. We are doing a donation in Franklin tomorrow, I was supposed to do it today, but rescheduled it because of weather. We also have 3 more donations lined up for next week. I usually speak with the activities director, so far they have all been really excited about having stuffed animals for their residents.

Also did a donation to the Upton Fire department today, that is a small department, only about 10 minutes from Hopedale. This was our first donation there, although we've donated items to the police department for over 3 years. Did I mention that the Hopedale Police Association made a $500 donation last week? They have been incredibly supportive of Project Smile. There is something extra special about having such great support from our hometown police department.

I was also working on getting more auction items. I try to contact at least three new businesses each day, that way it doesn't become overwhelming as the event gets closer. Also, I think it is helpful to start earlier in the year because some businesses limit the number of donations they do.

I made some changes on our blog last night- it was quite fun, because I hadn't realized all the different option there were in the blog design. So I added some extra photos and moved different things around. I really like the new look. Let me know what you think!
Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chugging Along

So today was a pretty productive day- I had 22 items on my list today and actually made it through 20 of them. I didn't get to start our February newsletter yet and I also had a scheduling plan that I was intending to work on, but didn't get to it. It was a mostly phone calls, letter writing and email day. I was working on reaching out to more nursing homes to get our stuffed animals out the residents, contacting fire departments and working on getting items for our Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 3. Getting auction items is a lot easier than getting financial sponsors and people to the event- both are definitely challenging. It is actually quite fun sometimes calling up different places to get items and gift certificates donated. I particularly like it because you usually get a faster response than if you're looking for financial support. I talked to Plimoth Plantation and Sturbridge Village today- both of whom were interested in donating admission passes.

I'm looking to raise $2,000 by June 1 to help with our Elder Care program (donating the stuffed animals to elderly nursing home residents). Does anyone have an idea for a good fundraiser? I'd like to do either an event which is relatively simple to run and doesn't cost a lot or even a recommendation for a grant that we haven't applied for yet. Suggestions would be really helpful!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Great Day

What a great day today! We received a $5,000 grant from the TJX Charitable Foundation (they own TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods). So that was absolutely wonderful. I had missed the end of last year's grant deadline, so it was reviewed recently and the check arrived in today's mail. It is funny, because I usually always feel the envelopes before I open them, trying to see if it is bringing good news. This envelope felt pretty thin, so I was really unsure as I opened it-(while standing in the post office, which I usually don't do) I yelped when I saw the check, it was so exciting. It was such a relief as well. Yesterday was a pretty difficult day because I was really stressed about financial issues and was on the verge of feeling overwhelmed, but it all rebounded today. Some smaller donations arrived in the mail today as well, which was great.

I did a donation to the Manville fire department in Rhode Island. The dispatcher knew me because she worked in Hopedale as well. She called last week and said that they recently had a call which involved a child and one of the guys in the department had come back to the station and said that he wished they had stuffed animals to give to kids, so the dispatcher told him that she knew where to get them and called me up. I delivered them today. I hadn't even realized that this was our first donation to a RI fire department until the lieutenant told me! He had printed out the info from our website. It was funny that he was the one to tell me it was our first RI fire donation.

Now going to work on my list for tomorrow, then off to read for a little bit. I know some people have been visiting my blog, but I haven't received any comments yet. I'd love to have some, so please leave them!
Until next time...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hooray for the Underdog

So the Giants won last night- a fact that has nothing to do with the goal of this blog, except for the fact that it was a truly remarkable feat and perhaps one of the best examples of the underdog achieving success. Most people can appreciate the underdog who, despite all odds, makes it. I always thought I did, but then things started to change when I started Project Smile and now I have more respect and understanding for the underdog than I ever could have imagined.

Is Project Smile an underdog in the non profit world? Definitely. It is through grit, sheer determination and some good help that we have even made it this far. And it will take a whole lot more grit, determination and help to get us to become a national charity. I have been wonderfully lucky in that I have a supportive family, particularly my mom who always is so encouraging. But there are others, who are less than supportive and have made a few comments, indirectly, to that point. Those comments don't bother me. However, it is the financial pressure that places us in the biggest underdog position.

To achieve when others say it isn't possible, to believe so truly in oneself and to never give up on a goal, no matter how impossible it may seem- that is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Looking at the Giants last night and their remarkable accomplishment- knocking off a team that seemed to be destiny's darling, it reminded me that truly, anyone can succeed.