Thursday, December 29, 2011

10,000 Reasons to Smile

Well folks, I have some amazing news to share- yesterday, we received a $10,000 grant! Even more amazing is the fact that it was an unsolicited grant from the anonymous fund associated with a particular foundation. I've been having a bit of a vacation this week and only doing a little work. I breezed into the post office yesterday, not particularly interested in actually picking up the mail- my primary focus was to return my netflix movie. I opened my mailbox and flipped through the mail as I was walking out. I saw the envelope and could tell it was a check. My first thought was, "wouldn't it be nice if this was a check for $10,000." I didn't really think it was a check for that much- I wasn't waiting for any grants and $10,000 checks don't exactly fall into my lap. I got into my car and opened the envelope- I peered in to see the dollar amount and there it was- $10,000. I squinted to make sure I wasn't imagining it, then I took it out of the envelope to stare at it some more. It took a few minutes to sink in that I was actually getting that large a donation. Within the hour, I deposited it in the bank.

The last time we received a $10,000 grant was in 2005 when we were the recipients of the Mass Bankers Charitable Foundation grant. The Milford National Bank had nominated us for the grant based partly on our donation for the children who were victims of Hurricane Katrina. That grant was revolutionary for us- if I had to pick one moment in our last 8 years that has been the most important, it was that $10,000 donation. At the time, we were barely hanging on financially. That donation put us on the path to a decent financial footing and we grew steadily. I've never received another $10,000 grant until yesterday.

This grant means so much to us. I don't know how the foundation heard about Project Smile or who the anonymous donors were, but if you happen to be reading this blog- thank you. Thank you so much for sharing the dream. I work very hard for every penny that we receive and the fundraising pressure is unrelenting. We don't get huge donations. In order for me to raise $10,000, it's an event that takes 9 months to plan or a bunch of grants that require extensive work. There is so much more that I want Project Smile to accomplish, but the financing is a major constraint.

Even beyond the dollar amount which is fantastic- is the knowledge that someone who I don't know believes in us enough to make that commitment. I usually have to go out and convince other people to donate and support our mission, but here is someone (or a group of people) that is already touched by what we do and I didn't have to say a word. That is such a beautiful thing. And to all the other people that donate and support our work, thank you- because you are all sharing in the dream as well.

I could go on about how delighted I am about this $10,000 donation, but I'm going to go and eat some crackers and cheese. I was going to have a grapefruit, but cheese is calling my name. Until next time friends...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Latest Happenings

We are rolling along with our special holiday donations of stuffed animals to the residents of nursing homes. I did three donations today to homes in Holliston, Franklin and Blackstone and another one yesterday. I usually speak with the activities director at the nursing homes- they are very happy to have our donations to give to the residents. One of the directors was saying to me how she was scrambling to get gifts together to for the residents to open on Christmas morning.

I walked into one nursing home today and ended up in the main activity room- the activities director was there and she introduced me to the room of residents and told them that they were getting gifts of stuffed animals. The residents that were there were so happy- it was really touching. Some of them called out goodbye to me as I left. I got in my car and started to driving to the next destination and kept thinking about how that is really what the holidays are all about- brightening peoples lives. It doesn't matter how big a gift is, it's the love and thought that's behind it. The stuffed animals are only small items, but when I went into that nursing home and saw how happy the residents were to get these little items, it was such a strong reminder of what really matters- how important it is to let people know that they are cared for. Even though I love the holidays, I get a little bummed at Christmas time because I don't have much money to spend on gifts for my family. I used to spend more and go over my budget, but these last few years I've really cut back and stuck to a budget.  It is hard when you look at all the ads for cool items to buy as gifts and you think about what you would like to buy for the people you love, but in the end it's not what it's all about. Times are tight for so many people, so I know I'm not alone in this. Going into the nursing homes these past few days, particularly this one today when I got to interact briefly with the residents was a great reminder that even a small gift matters.

Tomorrow, I need to follow up with some more local nursing homes. I want to get as many donations done as possible before Christmas. I still need to work on my 2012 plans- I haven't done enough on that yet. I also need to order more address labels- I didn't realize that I had run out of our address sheets and had to actually print our return address on an envelope- so unprofessional looking! Anyways, I'm off to eat some more delicious tangerines. I'm usually not a huge tangerine fan, but these ones from Trader Joe's are little orange pieces of heaven! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nursing Home Donations

So what's the latest? Well, we are making some special holiday donations of stuffed animals for the residents of local nursing homes. I wrote to the Milford National Bank last month and asked for their support so that we could relaunch our Operation Elder Care program and make donations for the residents of nursing homes. They made a $500 donation which we just received. This morning, I called a nursing home in Ashland which we had donated to a couple of times when we were doing our elder care program a few years ago. They were very happy to have our donation- I dropped it off this afternoon. Tomorrow, I'm going to make more calls and hopefully we can get a lot more local donations done to the nursing homes before Christmas. It must be so sad to be old and in a nursing home, especially if you don't have family that comes to visit. The goal is for the stuffed animals is to bring cheer to an elder and let them know that people care.

Today, we also received a $500 donation from a Waltham based company. I had met one of their employees at an event and she so kindly offered to help get her company on board to make a donation. She contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked me to send over an official donation request letter. It is so great when people reach out like that- I hadn't even asked for her help in getting a donation. I wish we had more people like her on board. It makes such a difference.

So what else is going on? Tomorrow, I also need to catch up on emails and work on my plans for 2012. My new year's resolution this year was to do more networking- that worked out really well. I want to take a bit of time and come up with one work related resolution for the coming year.

Well, that's the latest- I'm off to watch some more Jay Leno- his headlines segment is about to come on- it is my favorite part of the show. Then, I'm going to read some more of a book that I'm loving- it's a thriller called The Wreckage. My aunt sent it to my mom, but I absconded with it. Not sure if I feel like a grapefruit- I've already loaded up on cheese/crackers and tangerines tonight! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday Marvels

Well, there were no marvels happening today, but I love that title. So what's the latest? Today was a fairly quiet day. I set up another donation to a Boston homeless shelter for Wednesday- we have donated to this family shelter a few times before. I submitted a revision of the web updates that I sent in last week- our web host did most of the updates that I needed, but asked me to clarify some of the other updates that I wanted.

We got a big donation of stuffed animals in today, so I had to spend some time sorting through them. It is amazing how many people have been donating stuffed animals lately- it is a lot more than usual. There have been a lot of nice items donated- two big boxes of books came in lately. Unfortunately, we also get a ton of stuffed animals donated that need to get thrown away. We only can distribute stuffed animals that are either new or like-new condition, but a lot of the time people donate old stuffed animals and/or ones that are dirty, etc. The guidelines are really clearly on our website, so I'm not sure why people donate items that we need to throw away. I think that maybe they get attached to the stuffed animals and don't see them for what they are. It gets a little frustrating because it is time consuming to sort the donations and then to have so many stuffed animals to get rid of is hard- we are limited in the amount of garbage we can put out every week.

I do have sad news to report. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember the story of Maureen, the mom from Medfield who contacted me a couple of years ago about donating stuffed animals. Her daughter had organized a collection of stuffed animals, but sadly died from cystic fibrosis before she could make the donation. Her mom contacted us to complete her daughter's mission. It turns out that all three of Maureen's children suffered from cystic fibrosis and two had passed away. Maureen was one of the kindest women that I had met- to talk with her, you would have no idea she had dealt with the tragedy of losing two of her children. Her oldest son received a lung transplant and seemed to be doing well. He had been sick lately and sadly he died on Thursday. My heart goes out to Maureen and her family- that is a loss of unimaginable magnitude. I can't even begin to imagine. I cried when I heard the news. It seems that lately there has been so much loss happening- I know there always is, but things seem different. It is a reminder to spend time with our loved ones and enjoy the moments that we have- it is all so fleeting.

Well friends, that's all for tonight. I'm off to eat the other half of my grapefruit and watch one of my favorite shows which is waiting for me on the DVR- The Closer. I also need to write my list for tomorrow. I need to work on my 2012 plan and get more calendars sold- those are two of the top items on my list. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Busy Days and a Baby

I haven't blogged in a week! So what's new? Well, things are moving along steadily. We did another donation of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons this week to the Department of Children and Families for kids entering foster care. We got some wonderful donations recently- one big donation particularly from a family in CT that organized a drive for us. They collected a great assortment of items including large packs of crayons which we don't usually get donated and a great assortment of books. All the crayons went to DCF and a large number of their books were included in that donation too.

I was supposed to do another donation to Worcester PD today, but there was some very sad news from Worcester today- a fire fighter was killed in the line of duty. The police Lt. that I work with called me this morning to tell me and to reschedule the donation. I hadn't even heard the news yet. It is so sad when someone loses their life like that. My heart goes out to him and his family.

We were invited to apply for a grant from a Foundation which funds programs in the Metro West area. We don't get invited to apply for grants very often, so that was a welcome change. I completed the initial grant application and submitted it today. I'm not sure when I will hear from them again.

In good news- the couple that got married from our date auction welcomed their first baby- a little boy weighing six pounds was born on Monday! I am so happy for them. It is really wonderful to think that they met at our event 4 years ago and now a little baby has come into the world- it is pretty awesome!

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm getting tired and actually heading to bed early. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Goodbye November

It is the last day of November 2011- oh, it went so fast! Well, good news to report- we receive the invitation to the Foundation grant awards dinner along with an email that we will be receiving a $2,000 grant from the Foundation! I was so happy to get the email last night. That was the grant where I missed the deadline. Unfortunately, I can't make the dinner next week because I already committed to participating in another event. This grant matches their support last year. It is so important to have organizations which keep maintaining their support every year. We need a solid foundation of support that we can count on and keep building on.

Yesterday, we donated to the Boston Family Shelter again- we've donated stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to them before. Donating to the shelters is one of my favorite things- it is so sad to think of the parents and children that are forced to live in shelters. It is virtually impossible to park legally at the shelter- it is on busy Mass Ave and the only parking is permit parking only, I had to park there to unload. I was carrying two boxes down the street and there was a group of people walking the other direction- one of the guys in the group stopped and offered to help carry the boxes. I said I was OK, but he wouldn't let me keep carrying them. He carried them down the street and into the building for me. It was so nice. He left, but I still had more boxes to unload. By the time I got back to my car, he was still on the street walking slowly with his friends. He saw me and helped carry the boxes again- even though it was totally the other direction that he was headed. It is so nice to have strangers help like that. The lady in the shelter offered him a container of orange juice as a thank you. Unfortunately, even though I was parked outside on the street for only ten minutes, but I ended up with a $40 parking ticket. Obviously, I shouldn't have parked in permit zone, but there was literally nowhere else to park, particularly when you're unloading boxes. There were plenty of empty spaces, so it wasn't like I was taking up a spot that a resident was waiting for. I think this was the first ticket that I've received while doing Project Smile work.

Here's a photo from our donation yesterday to the shelter.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. It is only 12:15, but I'm really tired. I went to bed a little earlier last night and it made a difference this morning. Tomorrow, among other things, I need to get to Family Dollar and buy more coloring books. I didn't get to stop there yesterday. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Latest and Greatest

Well, I am happy to report that work can be quite delightful with a new computer. Even better, the computer only cost $150. It isn't actually a brand new computer, it is a few years old, but it has a much bigger hard drive and memory, the latest programs and all my info and photos that I need. It is so much faster it is rather amazing. Every day at around 4pm, my computer would start to get really slow- it was rather maddening. Now, I can blast through the day without waiting for the computer to catch up with everything that I'm trying to do.

So what else is going on besides my computer bliss? I was working on contacting more police departments and homeless shelters. I'm heading into Boston tomorrow to do another donation at a family shelter. We've donated there a couple of times before. I'm also dropping off more coloring books/books at Newton Police and dropping off calendars at Weston PD. I need to stop at a Family Dollar and load up on more coloring books. Tomorrow's donations will wipe out our supply of coloring books.

I haven't received an invitation for the foundation awards dinner which is happening soon. The awards dinner is for the Foundation that I interviewed with recently. When you get an invitation, that means you are getting funding. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will arrive this week. I need to work on more grant research this week as well. It was on my list for today, but I didn't get to it. 

Well, that's it for tonight. I've had a headache on and off all day and should go to sleep early. It isn't even 11:30 yet. I've been holding off the urge to eat some cheese and crackers, but I think I'm going to have some now. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goodbye Desktop

Well, today was the day that I had to say goodbye to my faithful desktop of the last ten years. I've been using my HP desktop since before I started Project Smile- it's so old it still has a floppy disk drive. It crashed in 2005 and had the blue screen of death, but my computer miracle worker/doctor was able to bring it back for me with nothing lost. I bought a new screen for it about 4 years ago- one of the nice flat screens, but it has its original keyboard and speakers. It has been having issues recently. On Friday night, it booted me off the internet. I switched it off and left it for the weekend, vaguely hoping that somehow when I turned it on this morning, it would be forget its issue. It didn't. I worked from laptop which is networked to the desktop, so it didn't it wasn't a big problem. I called the Dick, the computer doctor and he came out tonight to look at it. He worked on it, but explained that it was best to get a new computer. He's going to get me a Dell tomorrow at a really good rate and transfer all the info over.

I know it's not exactly the most fascinating topic- the end of a computer, but I wanted to write about it because it worked so well over the years and with the exception of the crash 6 years ago, it has always been there when I needed it. So thank you trusty HP laptop from 2001 for ten years of work!

So what else is going on? Well, today was a catch up and organize day. I was cleaning up my office, catching up on emails, paying some bills and organizing things. In good news, I called AmEx to inquire about the status of the dispute from a recent event. One of the guests was disputing a charge. I submitted all the info to AmEx supporting why a refund was not due. I hadn't heard anything recently, so I called. AmEx had closed the case because the card holder retracted his claim for a refund. I don't know why he changed his mind- maybe he understood why he wasn't entitled to a refund. I was confident that we would win, but it is even better that he decided to change his mind. 

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to eat the other half of my grapefruit. Hopefully, this time tomorrow, I will have been working on my new Dell. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Happenings

So what's the happening? Not a ton of news to report today. I was making a lot of phone calls, but didn't really get through to many people. I did speak with the Dept. of Children and Families to schedule our next donation. They are moving their Boston office on Thursday, so we're going to wait until they've settled into their next building- we're going to schedule it the week after Thanksgiving. DCF is my favorite donation- they work with so many children, I wish we could do a lot more.

I finally finished our November newsletter. I sent it over to Lisa our designer for her to format it and send it back to our web designer who will send it out for us. We used to be really good and send our newsletter out every month, but over the last year that has slipped. It has been quite a few months since our last newsletter. I don't know why I haven't done them- I think it's because I get wrapped up in other things and it falls down the priority scale and now, because I haven't done them in a while, I've been forgetting about them. I really need to change that. There is always news to report on and the newsletter is an important thing to do. I need to recommit to doing our monthly newsletter. It takes a little time, but it is definitely an important communication tool with our supporters.

Here is a nice photo from our donation last week to a Boston family homeless shelter. I actually got to give a stuffed animal to a little boy who was staying there. I usually never get to interact directly with the children, so that was special. He was so happy to have the stuffed animal.

Well, I'm off to eat my grapefruit, write my list for tomorrow and head to bed. I have been going to bed way too late and that is not a good habit. I'm off to Quincy tomorrow to drop off calendars at the station- the Lt. that I work with there is a big supporter of Project Smile- he helps sell some of the calendars. Quincy PD had been in the calendar since our first one- they have always been a supportive department. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Latest and Greatest

So what's new? Today was a bit of a slow day- I'm not sure why, but I felt like I was moving like molasses- it took me a while to get things done. I did get two of our annual donation request letters done which was good. I still have to work on our November newsletter, that definitely needs to get done tomorrow- I have so much good news to put in it!

There is an update from the email that I got last week which was rather annoying- right after I finished blogging about it, I got another email from someone else who was connected to the person who sent the original email. It was even more annoying, I wrote back immediately, but it was unsettling and it was difficult to get to sleep. There was more communication the next day and the upshot is that we are no longer partnering with this person for an event. The thing is that one can only work with people who are straight forward and stand by their word. We had met last winter to discuss this event and agreed to certain terms. Now, the person wanted to change the terms that we had already agreed upon. We had worked together before on an event. Project Smile was supposed to receive $5 from each ticket to the event and we also did a silent auction. When it came time to give us the money, the person told me in the morning that we would be receiving a check for a certain amount (less than $2,000), when I went to meet them that afternoon, they sent me a text as I was walking to them that said that they had expenses to cover and the amount was going to be $500 less than what they told me. I didn't see that text. They met me, didn't mention the text and gave me a folded check- I left and as I was walking back, I looked at my phone and saw the text, then looked at the check. I was rather shocked that $500 managed to disappear in a couple of hours, but at that point there wasn't much that I could do. They also promised me a couple of auction items for the silent auction which they never gave. I had to refund one woman her money later on because I didn't have the gift certificate to give her.

I probably should not have agreed to work with this person again based on that experience. But it did raise some money for Project Smile. We helped with the marketing and other things, the other person did most of the event planning and organizing- and they got most of the ticket money. When we met this year, we agreed to do the same thing as last year- $5 of the ticket to PS and we do a silent auction. They wanted to change the arrangement and not allow us to do a silent auction. Instead, they were going to do their own silent auction to help raise money for their own for profit business. Now, I have never heard of a silent auction that didn't go to a charitable cause. Obviously, that is not what we had originally agreed to. They then said that they usually donate 15% of the silent auction proceeds to the charity. Again, that was not what we had agreed to and I also think it is incredibly misleading for the people who are bidding on the auction items. Most people would assume that either the entire amount or at least most of it would go to charity- not a measly 15%. They also said that usually the charity helps find sponsors for the event- another statement which didn't make sense. We never discussed that and there is no reason why we would help them find sponsors to cover their own costs. We need to find sponsors who directly support Project Smile- that's where our focus always has to be.

I wasn't prepared to agree to these changes in terms and it was decided that the person would give the event a different name and we would not be involved. I did walk away from the money that it would have raised- it wasn't very much, but it isn't always about the money. It is about working with the right people and being involved with events that I want to be associated with. We did the fashion show this fall which raised money for Project Smile, so that more than makes up for what this event could have brought in. I know that I made the right decision. 

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit, read some more and head to bed- and write my list before that. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Excellent Day!

We got the grant! A $5,000 grant from the TJX Charitable Foundation! How wonderful those words are! That was the big grant that I've been waiting anxiously on news about. Today was one of those days which I wish happened even more often- it was a perfect combination of program work and fundraising. We made another donation of 11 boxes of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Boston Police. The sergeant at headquarters had the community officers from the different precincts there- I got to meet them and talk about Project Smile. They were very enthusiastic and really appreciative of our program. It had been a little while since we've donated to Boston PD- it can get hard to keep up with donations. We're going to do our next donation in January. It is a large department, so they really need more donations. The Superintendent came over as well to thank us for our work. He told me about how he used to give out stuffed animals to children and what a difference it would make for them. I drove home and I was so happy about our work- some times, I get so wrapped up with the details of running Project Smile- the constant outreach, grant writing, fundraising- it get easy to forget about all the good things that we are able to do.

I came back to work all ready in a good mood and picked up the mail- there was the envelope that I've been nervously waiting for. It felt a little thick, so that was a good sign- I always try to anticipate before I actually open. I didn't want to get too excited, so I prepared for the worst. I opened the envelope and the first thing I saw was the back of a check- oh, that was a good sign! I was already happy, but I still prepared myself for a grant that was less than the $5,000 we had asked for.  The letter was the next thing that I saw- it is a rather long letter. I quickly scanned it, searching for the dollar amount and there it was- $5,000! I was so happy, I let out a yell. It is such a relief, particularly because of how grant funding has decreased lately from some of our other supporters. The letter also encouraged us to go ahead and apply again for the same program next year.

Happiness was an under statement- it was a feeling of perfect contentment and such a high. That's the thing with my job- when the highs come, they are so incredibly high, there is almost nothing better in the world. I have to work so hard for everything that we get, so when we get- when we keep making donations, when we have successful events, when we get the big grants- it is the best feeling and it makes you want to keep it going even more.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. It was a great day. Thank you to those who always keep wishing us the best! There is more to write about- there are developments that stemmed from that annoying email yesterday, but that will have to wait for another time. I am off to eat some more delicious bread from Wegman's along with the equally delicious Yancey's horseradish cheddar cheese. Until next time...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest? Well, the grant interview last night went well- at least, I thought it went well. I always feel so enthusiastic and happy when I talk about Project Smile, so I love the opportunity to meet with the Foundation. The interview only last a few minutes which is typical of how it has been for the past few years. I won't know for a few weeks if we get approved. If we get invited to the Foundation's annual awards dinner, then that means that we will be getting support.

I finished the grant which is due on Saturday and I overnight mailed it to the Foundation. The post office is closed on Friday, so I wanted to make sure it arrived in time. This Foundation has supported us for over 4 years, so hopefully they will keep supporting our work. We usually find out about that one within a few weeks too. I still haven't heard from the two other large grants that we applied for in the summer- I tried following up with one foundation, but didn't hear anything. I'm going to email the contact that I have for the other foundation.

Tomorrow, we're making another donation of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Boston Police. I have more police and fire departments that I need to reach out to tomorrow as well. I'm also stopping off in Braintree to return the sports items that didn't sell at our silent auction at Wine Fest. I also need to work on our financial donation requests that we usually submit at this time.

There is an issue that came up with something that we're working on- I received an email today which was rather frustrating. I immediately drafted a response, but I decided to wait a little while before I sent the email. I was annoyed and generally speaking it isn't a good idea to send an email when you're annoyed.  I worked on other things and returned to it a little while later. I made a couple of small changes and responded. Even though it was basically the same email that I had drafted immediately, I'm glad that I waited until I felt less annoyed about the situation before I responded. The issue still hasn't been resolved and I'm not sure what's going to happen.

Well, I am off to send a few more emails, then have my grapefruit and head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday Marvels

Well, there weren't exactly any marvels happening today, but I liked the name.  So what's new? Today, I wrote to a local Foundation to ask for a donation in support of our Operation Elder Care program for the holidays. We started the elder care program 3 years ago with a grant from the same Foundation. We gave gifts of stuffed animals to the residents of local nursing homes. The program worked out great- it was great to give out the stuffed animals to the people in nursing homes- they were really happy to have the gifts. The grant ran out and it wasn't renewed. I haven't applied since then for more funding, I have been focused on our efforts to help children. This Foundation gave us a $500 grant earlier this year in support of our primary efforts. At the time, they said to contact them if we needed support for a particular holiday program. I thought this would be the perfect program for them to support. I really hope they get on board because it would be great to have our elder care program going again.

I need to get going with calendars sales- we still have about half our calendars left to sell. I reached out to one of the police associations that usually make an annual donation and buy some calendars to give out to their officers. I have more associations that I need to get in touch with, as well as other organizations who make annual donations near the end of the year. I still have to finish the grant which is due on Saturday. I realized that Friday is a holiday so the post office is closed- that means I need to have the grant done by Thursday at the latest so I can pop it in the mail. I really should get it done tomorrow- it isn't that complicated at all.

In other good news, we did a silent auction at Wine Fest on Saturday and raised almost $1,000. I couldn't find anyone to help out, so I did the auction by myself- it worked out fine. It is a lot easier to have help with unloading the car and setting up, but I was fine doing it alone. We do a silent auction at their afternoon and evening session. It always takes time for the auction to get going and that gets a little nerve wracking. I was dreading the idea of having to wrap up the items and take them home. We had some of the smaller autographed sports pictures which didn't sell, so those get returned to the dealer. Unfortunately, the glass cracked on one of the Bruins photos so I couldn't auction it off.

Well friends, that's it for tonight, I am off to bed. I was going to eat a grapefruit, but I just finished eating my second ham, feta, spinach and tomato sandwich that I made when I came home- so delicious! It is only 12:15, so it might actually be an early night. My eyes are getting tired, so I don't think I can do any more reading of my new book. I have our grant interview tomorrow night for the grant that I was freaking out about last week. Wish me luck please! Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grant Mini Drama

Well, today got off to a rocky start. For the past few years, we have received support from a local Foundation. I realized that I hadn't received a grant application yet this year. They usually either email or mail the application. The grant is usually due at this time of the year. This morning, I emailed two of the contacts from the Foundation that I had. One contact emailed me back immediately with a link to the website, she said that the application had been emailed but it might have gone to my spam folder. I do check my spam file and don't remember seeing it. I went on the site, but the application wasn't there, instead was a sentence thanking everyone who had applied and that interviews were being scheduled. I was so upset thinking that we had missed the deadline. I was annoyed with myself for not thinking of it sooner and following up. I'm usually really good about following up with things, especially with something as important as a grant. I emailed the lady back- she referred me to the committee chairperson, who I immediately emailed to see if we could still apply. She wrote back to me very promptly and said we could definitely still apply and she scheduled our interview for next Tuesday. I was so relieved. The grant usually is approximately $2,000 and it would have been dreadful to have missed the opportunity to even apply. It's not a guarantee that we will get it, but if you don't even apply- that is just ridiculous. I was so stressed this morning, I was ready to cry.  I told the lady that I would email the grant to her by lunch time tomorrow- which means I need to get back and work on it. I started working on it this afternoon, but then I had a Smiling Stiletto event tonight and just got back a short time ago. I was going to finish it tonight, but I'm getting tired. The good thing is that the grant application is the same as last year and we're asking for continued funding, so it isn't like I have to write an entirely new grant from scratch. They have a very simple and straight forward grant application too which is good.

Well, I am off to bed, I'm getting too tired to be productive on the grant. I'll get an early start tomorrow and get it done. I also need to get the bid sheets done for our silent auction at Wine Fest on Saturday. We only have 20 items, so that shouldn't take very long. The grant is definitely the priority for tomorrow morning. Until next time friends... here's to successful grant writing!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Welcome November

It is November already! Things seem to be moving so quickly and I'm not quite catching up. So what's new? Today, we did another donation of stuffed animals, books, coloring books/crayons to Everett PD and we also did our annual donation to Goodwill for their children's holiday party. We have been donating stuffed animals, books, coloring books/crayons and toys for their holiday party for the past few years. I'm really happy to donate there, particularly since we don't have our own Christmas event for children. Tomorrow, I'm doing a donation to a Boston homeless shelter that we have partnered with before.

In other good news, we received a $1,000 grant yesterday. It was kind of funny the way it worked out. The Foundation had changed their application process and launched a new online process in the winter. We applied for the grant in March, but never heard anything back. I had asked for $3,000. The Foundation usually donated $1,000 annually, except for last year when they only donated $500. On Sunday night, I decided to log in to our account and see if there was an update. I thought it was a little odd that I had received any news since March. On the website, it said "Approved". Naturally, I was thrilled to think that we were getting 3k. I emailed the Foundation to inquire about when the check would arrive. The lady emailed me in the morning and informed me that although it said approved on our account, it still needed to be approved by the Foundation (evidently, there is a multi step process) and we had been approved for a 1k grant. The check actually arrived in the mail that day. Now, here is the thing- if I didn't log in and see the approval for 3k, I would have been very happy to receive the 1k- and I still am happy that we did receive the grant, but a big part of me was disappointed because I was thinking that we were going to be receiving more. The 1k grant fits in with what they donated for the past 6 years and I am glad that we got it, especially since is was 8 months of waiting to hear back.

I think I'm fighting off a cold, so I'm trying to get to bed early- I have way too much to do, I can't get sick! I've been doing everything I can to ward it off. I'm going to eat some more grapefruit, then go to sleep. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Story

Well, I have a happy story to share tonight. Yesterday, there was a carjacking in Everett- a man took off with a truck which had a sleeping 7 year old girl in the backseat. He dumped the truck a short time later and the girl was unharmed. On the evening news, the reporter said that the little girl left the police station later holding a stuffed animal. We have donated to Everett PD before, so when I heard that, I wondered if it was a stuffed animal from us. I decided to call today to see if they needed more items. I called the Chief's office and as soon as I said that I was from Project Smile, the secretary immediately said they needed more items. She told me the little girl had received our stuffed animal and coloring book/crayons and she was happy to get them. It is always great to hear the stories of when our items are used. We're going to be making another donation to Everett PD next Tuesday. Today was a busy day. I was working on contacting police departments and shelters to schedule more donations. I scheduled another donation to a Boston family homeless shelter for next Wednesday. I'm also dropping off our donation to Goodwill's holiday party next Tuesday as well. I also started working on a grant which is due in early November. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I feel really tired all of a sudden, I think it might actually be an early night- it is only 11:30! Until next time...

Monday, October 24, 2011


Our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration was a success! What a relief! We raised almost $10,000 and had great attendance. I am so glad that is over and went well. I get so anxious about these events, you can't even imagine. Steve Aveson, NECN anchor, gave a very moving speech at the event- it was really touching. Miss Massachusetts did a great job and our host, Dick Ferrucci was wonderful as always. He is fantastic at doing live auctions, it really is something to watch. I wish I had video of it- he really get the crowd going. Steve Aveson and Miss Massachusetts helped with the live auction as well. I'm really so grateful for everyone who attended and everyone who donated and sponsored the event. This event means so much to us, particularly given how our grant funding has decreased this year. I really made sure to take a little time on Friday night to look around and take everything in. I spend most of the night walking around and chatting with people- which I absolutely love to do. While Dick was introducing our speaker, I was looking out at the audience and felt so happy about how far we've come over the years. I know there is a lot more to do, but it feels great to have the time to celebrate all the good things that have happened. We got some great photos from the event which I put on our PS Facebook page today. Here is is a really nice one, courtesy of David Fox.
I still have a few more auction items to get to people. Today, I chucked the stack of donation request letters that I've faxed over the last nine months for the date auction and anniversary celebration. It is always such a huge pile of letters. Now that the events are over, I definitely don't need to hold onto the letters. It is nice to have a break for the next two months from auction item hunting. I don't miss that at all. January will come around very quickly and it will be back to work on both events for next year. Well friends, there is lots more to write about, but I am very tired. I've been trying to clean up my office and was going to go back and do some more organizing, but I'm ready to fall asleep. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two Days to the Big Night!

Well, we are less than 2 days from the big night- our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration. I can't believe it is almost here. Things are looking good for the event, although I am super anxious, but that is hardly new. I was up until 3am last night getting the bid sheets for the silent auction ready. It is a fairly simple task, but it does take quite a bit of time. It is always a trick to pick the right starting bid- you don't want to start too low or too high. Tomorrow, I am picking up our delicious cake at Konditor Meister in Braintree and our sports items. I'm also picking up our programs and new Project Smile sign at Staples in Watertown. I have one more auction item to pick up in Franklin, then we are done. One of the big ticket silent auction items arrived on Monday. I heard back about the other big auction item- it should be arriving shortly. I don't want to keep nagging the donor, so I didn't email today. If it doesn't arrive by late morning tomorrow, I will email- because at least that leaves enough time for it get overnight mailed. There are still a couple of other donors whose items I don't have and it doesn't look like I will be getting them. It is disappointing, but at this point there is nothing that can be done about it. I know that people get busy, but when it is frustrating when people say they are going to donate- repeatedly, then either disappear or make it so difficult to get the item that it becomes impossible. The good news is that we have over 100 silent auction items, so other than waiting for the last big item, we are all set. I confirmed with our guest speaker tonight, confirmed with our balloon company and musicians and spoke with the hotel. I plugged in our credit card machine- it keeps having issues when it gets unplugged for a certain period of time, but it is back on track now. The girls who helped run the door last year are coming back to help and we have two more volunteers helping with the auction payment portion. I still have to write my speech, but I need to relax for a few minutes before I can write. I feel like I still have so much going through my head. I keep feeling like I am forgetting to do something for Friday. I hope we get a good attendance- that by far is the most nerve wracking part. One does all this work- over 9 months of getting sponsors and donations, doing calendar photos, planning the event- it is a ton of time and effort- and it all comes down to nothing if it isn't a success. This event takes on even more pressure with the struggle that we've been having with fundraising. I don't know how else I could get people to attend. I've done everything that I know how to do to try to get people to come. It has worked well in the past, so hopefully we will stay on track. I get so nervous thinking about it. Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to do the last couple of bid sheets and print out some more displays. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Home Stretch

Well, we are on the home stretch for our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration. It is only a little over a week away now. Things are looking good, but still ultra stressful and nerve wracking. I'm waiting on two of our biggest auction items to arrive. They were promised to us a while ago and I've left phone calls and emails but haven't had any response. They are both items that we've had for the past few years, so I'm fairly confident that they will arrive, but it really is stressful. The items raise at least $800 between the two of them and they were heavily promoted as being in this year's auction. I don't want to nag the donors and be annoying, but the event is around the corner and we really need them to arrive. I'm also running around picking up other auction items that people can't mail. It is great to get the items, but it does get time consuming. I'm also following up with other people who have promised items but haven't sent them over yet. Even though we are only a week away, there are still quite a few other items that we're still waiting on. I still haven't heard back from a lot of people who I invited that are in the calendar, so tomorrow I need to get cracking on making phone calls to the people that we invited to make sure they got the invitation and encourage them to attend. It is such a fun event, but I always have to work really hard to get people to show up. Tomorrow, I am going to post the event on Boston.Com and Yelp. I have posted it on the Milford Daily News website, but I'm going to send over a press release to them too. I also need to follow up with other people who I've asked to help get the word out. There is nothing better than word of mouth marketing, it really is the best way to get people to attend events. Tomorrow, I am picking up our calendars! I am so excited to see them, especially with the new printer that we are using. I think they are going to look great. I really love this year's photos. Well, there is more to write about, but I am so tired. I went to see the play Candide at the the Huntington Theatre tonight- it was excellent. My friend Annie won the ticket voucher in the silent auction at our PS Anniversary event last year and she invited me to go with her! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Steve Jobs died today, it's such a loss of a remarkable innovator who truly changed the world for the better. I was touched by his quote about finding your passion. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on." His words are so meaningful and so true. It is so important not to settle- to keep dreaming and keep working on ways to make things better and stronger. There are always ways to improve and grow. While there are days when I don't have the passion for work and when January comes around, it is hard to get geared up for working on our big events, and there is so much more that I want to do in my life from where I am now, but I do love what I do. Things do get better every year. Even though financially, things are a struggle and we don't always bring in more money every year- as an organization we get stronger ever year and as a business person I learn more and get to improve every year. I can't imagine having a full time job that I hated- I remember having jobs that I disliked intensely, but they were always either summer jobs or part time jobs. I can honestly say that before Project Smile, I never loved any job that I had. With Project Smile, I can't imagine ever loving any other job more. With Project Smile and maybe other endeavors in the future, I want to leave something behind that can make a difference long after my time has ended. I don't mean to sound all melancholy- it is just so sad when the world loses someone whose creative genius and hard work made such an impact on the world. He helped create products that many of us never could have imagined and in doing so, the world was changed. Hearing his quotes about the shortness of life and the importance of not settling until you have found what you love- it makes one stop and reflect. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Welcome October

Well, October has arrived! That means it is only 18 days until our 8th Anniversary Celebration! I promise I won't do a countdown every day until the Anniversary event, even if I am doing it every day in head. I still have more auction items to get in-hand, particularly some very big items. I need to keep working on getting people to attend, there are no words that can over estimate how important that is. I went away for a few days to Niagara Falls- I came home last night. I know that doesn't have anything to do with Project Smile, but it is important to take a break and have a complete change of scenery. I don't get to go away very often, so this was quite special. The Falls were absolutely fantastic, I'm so glad that I saw them. I worked really hard before I left so I could be as caught up as possible when I went back to work today. I felt re-energized today, so it definitely made a difference going away. I wish I could do it more often! So what else is happening? The photos and video from the Date Auction are now on our website. I couldn't get them all loaded onto the website, so I choose about 35 pictures to rotate through as a slideshow. All of the photos from the event are on our FB page. We get a certain amount of time included with our website for updates and we have to pay extra for additional time, so I really make a major effort to keep our updates within our allotted time for the month. That means I can't always get everything done that I wish, but all the important things get done promptly and our site looks good. We have a lot of FB fans, so people have definitely already been checking out the event pictures. We also loaded a lot more photos from the fashion show onto our Smiling Stiletto FB page. That was a good fundraiser- I would love to do two shows next year, a spring and fall show. You can check them out here. Well, that's it for tonight. I'm really tired all of a sudden, there is a lot more to write about, but my mind is starting to go blank. Until tomorrow friends.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Latest and Greatest

So what's new? Today, we did another donation of 300 stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons and reading books to the Dept. of Children and Families for children entering foster care. I love working with DCF, I wish we could do even more. I also dropped off more stuffed animals to the Upton Fire Department. The major focus right now is getting people to attend our Anniversary Celebration. Our email invitation has been sent out, paper invitations mailed, FB invite and LinkedIn invitation all done. I've been asking people to spread the word to their friends and social network to get them to attend. I've worked so hard on getting auction items- we need people there to buy the items. Everyone who comes to the event has a great time- it is a really nice event and we have over 100 auction items, most of them are very affordable. It's an issue of getting the word out and getting people to attend. It gets so stressful. I keep having images of me and 10 guests trying to create bidding wars for 100 items- nightmare situation! I reached out to the balloon company that we always work with to get our balloons ordered for the event. I'll check in with the hotel probably next week to finalize our appetizers. I'm still working on getting in touch with people who have promised auction items but we haven't received them yet. There are about 20 auction items outstanding, actually, I think it is a little more than that. It always takes time to coordinate these last items. Some of the items need to be picked up, others can be mailed or emailed. There are always a few people that promise items but never actually donate them. I've never understood why people do that. If you can't donate, that's fine- just let me know. It gets very frustrating to deal with people who say they will donate- some people say it multiple times over the course of a few months, then disappear when the event gets closer- they don't respond to emails or phone calls. Besides the fact that it is a waste of time sending emails and making follow up calls, it is also annoying because when you organize a fundraiser, you count on the people who commit to helping. When those people don't come through, it leaves you doubly in the hole. The good thing is that the vast majority of people who say they will donate, do in fact, donate. In some cases, it may take a lot of emails/calls from me, but it works out in the end. Well, that's it for tonight. There is more to write about, but my mind is going blank. It's not even midnight yet, but I'm tired. Hopefully, the next time I blog, I can write about all the people that have said they're coming to our Anniversary Celebration- keep your fingers crossed for those emails/phone calls coming in please! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fashion Show Success

Well, two big events down and one more big one to go. The Fall into Fashion Show presented by Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club was held on Thursday at Copley Place. It was a great event! Lisa Donovan from Matty in the Morning hosted the event and did a great job. She actually hosted our 2nd Annual Date Auction a few years ago. She said such nice things about me and Project Smile when she came onstage. I totally wasn't expecting it. The event raised over $1,800 for Project Smile. One of our shoe club members, Christine, did most of the organizing, which was great. It was a relief to have some else handle the details and planning. She did a very good job. I think she would like to be involved again. Copley Place definitely wants to have the event again. We got a lot of great feedback from guests. Copley Place did very nice gift bags for everyone too. We showcased 6 different designers/stores including Karen Millen, Banana Republic, Bebe, Elie Tahari, Shoe Woo and Tumi. I'll post photos on our Smiling Stiletto page when I get them. Here's a photo of me with Lisa in front of our new sign. My friend Elle designed the new Smiling Stiletto logo. I modeled in the fashion show which is always fun!
Most of the paper invitations for our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration have been mailed out. I sent the Facebook invitation to all my contacts tonight and I've posted it for the Meet Up groups that I'm involved with. Our web host was very quick and got our ticket link up on our Events page and took down all the old Date Auction info, so when people visit the Events page, they get to quickly see the Anniversary info instead of having to scroll down past all the photos of our beautiful bachelors/ettes. I get so stressed out about getting people to attend the Anniversary event. It is such a great event, but it is a lot of work to get people to show up. I need to keep reaching out to people who can help get the word out to their friends and connections. Well friends, there is a lot more to write about, but I'm tired and need to get back to sending a few more emails before I head to bed. Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Well friends- it was a huge success! I can't tell you how happy I am and proud. I wish I could go back and relive the night- now that I know that everything went well, just so I could take it all in again. We raised $17,000 and had a phenomenal attendance. All the hours, the stress, the anxiety- it was all worth it. Karson and Kennedy did another fantastic job as hosts. The Patriots Cheerleaders were great. They interacted with guests for a little while, then they were by the stage and letter onstage, helping to keep the crowd going. The people who were being auctioned off did a great job. Everyone looked great, they interacted with guests during the mingling portion- I couldn't have asked for anything more. I really want to thank everyone who participated and helped make it such a great event- our sponsors, volunteers, donors, participants, guests, Gypsy Bar, photographers. There were so many people that were involved and helped make it a great night. People spent a lot more for the dates than they did last year which is a great sign. Our silent auction items did well too for the most part. We had 3 photographers there and a photographer from Stuff magazine- so hopefully we might get some pictures in the magazine. That would be incredible! I made sure to take time on Friday night to enjoy the event- even though there is always anxiety about making sure that everything keeps running smoothly and there are always small issues to solve. I watched people coming up on stage, looked at the audience which was made up of so many happy people. I looked at Karson and Kennedy, at what a great job they were doing. I looked at my volunteers who were working hard. I thought of how far we've come. I've always had big dreams and big goals, but that doesn't always mean they are going to happen. The Date Auction is a dream come true. When you work so hard for something, when you fight for every dollar raised and every donation received- and when it all culminates in that night of success- it is a feeling of pure happiness, pride and inner peace. Well, on that note, I am off to bed. I was back at work on the Anniversary Celebration today and our Fall into Fashion Show event which is this Thursday. The show completely sold out on Friday which is awesome. I'm modeling in the show on Thursday, so I've been trying watch what I eat, but I came home tonight and totally splurged on the apple pie that my mom had made. It was delicious! Until tomorrow...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Well, here we are- less than 24 hours until our biggest event of the year, our 5th Annual Project Smile Charity Date Auction! I can't believe it is here. Nine months of work and now we're just hours away. I'm excited and nervous. I keep wracking my brain to make sure there is nothing that I've missed. There is so much emotion wrapped up in it too- I've worked so hard, had to keep pushing through all the difficulties of getting things together and now it is finally come together and it is shaping up to be a great night. Our advanced ticket sales have been awesome. Everything is handed that was needed for the event. Vendors have confirmed for tomorrow. Our stage and rental items arrived at Gypsy Bar today. Our hosts have confirmed. No one has dropped out from participating as of yet. There is a ton of pressure for tomorrow- it has been a tough year for fundraising and the date auction is even more important than usual. I can say for certain that I am proud of what I have done to get this event organized. I don't know what else I could have done to make it better. I hope it is a big success- so much time, effort and energy has gone into it. I really appreciate everyone that has participated- from the people being auctioned off, to our sponsors, hosts, venue, volunteers, donors- so many people have a part in making the date auction come together. I want to make sure tomorrow to take a bit of time to look around and enjoy the event- take it all in. It is easy to get so caught up with the action, to stay on top of any issues that could arise- I don't want to miss out on the fun of watching the night unfold. I followed my usual pre-event routine this week of not eating out at least 2 days before our big events. It may sound silly, but I avoid eating out prior to a big event in case of food poisoning. If I absolutely have to eat out, I am really careful about what I eat in order to avoid getting sick. I know that food poisoning is rare, but these events are so important- I don't have anyone to delegate to if I am sick. Tomorrow night, when I get home and after I run my credit cards and unload the car, I'll probably follow my ritual of going down to my local Burger King, getting a hamburger, soda and fries, coming home and sitting in bed, munching away. It's something that started a few years ago when I was starving after the date auction. I go straight home after the event since I have all the money and credit card machine with me. I decided to go down to Burger King after the event- not that I'm even a fan of Burger King, and since then it just became a tradition. It's my post-event unwind and chance to reflect on the night. Well friends, that's it for tonight. Please wish me lots of luck and success tomorrow night. Until next time.. here's hoping for a great event!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Closer!

The countdown and butterflies continue- only 2 days to go! The day started off with a bit of a scare with our credit card machine. The CC machine only gets used a few times a year, mostly at our events. I always get it out a couple of days before the event and plug it in and run my own credit card for a tiny amount- just to make sure everything is working. I was planning on doing it later this afternoon, but a girl called me in the morning about the Date Auction and I told her that she could buy her ticket over the phone. She was going to call back later in the day with her credit card info. I decided that I might as well get the machine out now and plug it in. I plugged it in and instead of popping up with it's usual message, it flashed a bunch of numbers that made no sense to me, then performed a 'self-test' and then reverted back to listing the year as 1/1/2000. I didn't know what the heck was going on and I was ready to panic. A working credit card machine is super important for Friday- to put it mildly. I opened my credit card binder and dialed the help number- all the while suppressing the urge to have a meltdown. The customer service rep helped me to reset the date which got the machine working, but it had reverted to the online mode where it only processes cards when it is plugged into a telephone line. I used the machine in the store and forward mode which means that I can take it to events, swipe credit cards and the data is saved until I plug the machine into a phone line and the cards get processed. For some reason, the technical support department at the cc machine company doesn't believe that my machine has the ability to store/forward the data. I called last year about a relatively minor issue and the girl gave me an argument about it- telling me there was no way the machine could do that. I've had the cc machine since 2007 and that has been the only way it is ever used. . Anyways, the customer service rep keeps telling me the same thing- that my machine doesn't have that capability. I explained to him that I've been using it that way for 4 years. Eventually- mostly through my explaining to him how the machine worked, we were able to get to the point where he could help me reset the machine back to the store/forward mode. I processed two credit cards today and everything went fine. My meltdown was averted! I picked up the programs at Staples- they look great. I also picked up 10 red heart balloons for decorations, I've put our Project Smile stickers on them and they look quite cute. I also got small bills to make change at the event and a few trays of finger sandwiches as well. I've been trying to get as many things done ahead of time as possible, so that all I have to do on Friday morning is print out the updated guest list and load up the car. There are a few more things that I have to do tomorrow. Ticket sales are coming along well. The Yelp newsletter came out today with the Date Auction as the featured event. Here is the link: Well friends, that's it for tonight. I have a major headache- not sure why, I rarely get headaches. I'm going to make it an early night and head to bed soon. Until tomorrow...

3 Days!

Well, the countdown continues- 3 days until the big night! How are things going? I feel like we're in a good place for the Date Auction. Ticket sales are at a good pace. I've been working on getting all the odds and ends together- mostly bid sheets, forms, silent auction promo sheets, entry forms, , extension cords, lamps, nametags- all the little things that need to come with us on Friday. I have my volunteers lined up. I have two people coming with me on Friday to set up which is great. We have 3 staffers coming from the temp agency which helped us last year- they paid for 3 people to work the event. We also have a bunch of other volunteers signed up. Our date auction program is at the printers which is exciting- I always try to get it down well ahead of time, but it always comes down to almost the last minute. I'm waiting for Lisa to send over the next version of our 2012 calendar, it needed a few more small changes, then it should be heading to the printers soon. I spoke to the police officer whose daughters are going to be on the cover- he was so happy! His twin girls have been in the calendar for 6 years now, I'm glad that we could get them on the cover this time. It is a really cute photo of the twins and a little boy holding a stuffed animal. Well, I wish I had exciting news to share. Actually, I'm glad there wasn't a ton of excitement- there was enough drama yesterday to last for a few days. I did actually get commitments from two more Anniversary event sponsors which was good- one is a returning sponsor and the other is a new sponsor. I also followed up on some auction items for the Anniversary Celebration. I've been focusing so much on the date auction recently, I don't want to fall behind on the other big event. I'm off to write my list for tomorrow, try not to eat anymore leftover brownies- I put them in the fridge last night and now they are even more delicious when they are cold! Until tomorrow friends... in the meantime, please keep wishing many more ticket sales for us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Roller Coaster

What a roller coaster of a day! I had a lot of anxiety filled dreams around the date auction last night. In one of the dreams, Karson and Kennedy decided they didn't want to use the stage, they were standing on the dance floor, but no one could see them, then they wanted everyone to sit down, but there were no seats, so people were sitting on the floor. I kept wanting the hosts to use the stage. Then, in the next dream, the Patriots cheerleaders were there, but they weren't wearing their uniforms- the were wearing these rather ugly prom style red dresses. I kept looking at them wondering why they weren't in their uniforms and trying to figure out a way that people were going to recognize who they were. They were not in a good mood because they were tired (I think this was in my dream, because last week when the Pats Cheerleader coordinator called, she said they would be coming from another event). I asked them to wave their pom poms, but they didn't want to because they were tired, but finally they took out their pom poms, but they were only the size of their thumbs. I remember looking at the pom poms and wondering what the point was to have something so small to wave. Before all that, I had forgotten to bring the table covers, so none of the tables had any covers on them. There was definitely a lot of anxiety going on in my head overnight. This morning, I logged into my email account to be greeted from an event sponsor backing out of the event- after they had already committed and their logo was on our marketing materials. I was so upset. Their sponsorship represented a good portion of the money raised to cover the cost of the event. I wrote back to them immediately- explaining that they had already committed, their logo has been on the marketing materials, etc. There were some other emails exchanged throughout the afternoon and finally by the end of the day, things were resolved and their sponsorship was back on track. I was actually in tears this morning. It gets so frustrating when you work so hard, you follow up as one is supposed to, things look like they are on track- then to be greeted with news like that, especially when I was already feeling general anxiety since we're only 4 days away from the event- it was too much this morning. The tears didn't last long, I had my cup of tea and kept plugging along with everything else that needed to get done. I'm very glad that I just didn't accept their email and let it go- it is so important to follow up with people and make a major effort to get things worked out- always in a pleasant and professional manner of course. I had a girl drop out of the date auction this morning as well- it's rather funny because she was the last one we added in after another girl dropped out. It worked out fine because Marie was in the final stages of the program, so we could still switch things out rather easily. I plucked someone off the waiting list to fill her spot. This morning, since I felt I was on a roll to nowhere land- it managed to motivate me to make one last phone call to the person who had committed to sponsoring, but hadn't sent in their info for the program. The person answered the phone and by 7pm, I had my very last date auction ad for the program! We also sold a bunch of tickets for the date auction and fashion show, so by the end of the day, I was back on the upside of the roller coaster. Honestly though, it was an exhausting day. It gets very tiring dealing with the ups and downs and the issues that arise and fixing problems that one didn't think was going to be a problem in the first place. I'm glad that things got sorted out. Tomorrow, our program will head to Staples for printing and that will be one more huge thing out of the way. Only 4 days to the big night- I can't believe it! Based on my dream, I took the table covers that I bought for the date auction out of my car. I'm probably not bringing my car on Friday, so there is no reason to keep them in there and possibly forget them. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to proof the program once more, eat some cantaloupe, I already had some brownies that I made tonight (there was a recipe for them in Cooking Light which I just had to try- they were very good), then read for a bit and relax. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Closer!

Yes folks, we are still on the date auction countdown. We're on the fashion show countdown too. Since the email blast went out to our Smiling Stiletto members, tickets can have taken off like wildfire for the show which is great. We are exactly two weeks away from the fashion show and almost a week away from the date auction. I get a nervous knot in my stomach just thinking it. I know there really isn't an reason for the anxiety attack- we are in a really good place for the event. I'm still waiting on a couple of ads for the program. One of the sponsors emailed me today that she is no longer handling our region, so she referred me to someone else who I had actually already communicated with before. I emailed the other person, but didn't get a response. I figured she must have been really busy, particularly if she is handling an extra marketing territory. I still haven't heard from the other sponsor that I mentioned last night- I don't know what is going on and I don't know what else I can do. I'm going to send one more email, hopefully that will get a response. I picked up the sports items today from the dealer. They look really good. I'm not much of a hockey fan, but the Bruins pictures are really cool. There is one team shot in particular which is terrific. I dashed up to Boston after picking up the items to pick up one more gift certificate for dinner at No Name restaurant. They have donated to our event for the past few years. Their seafood is delicious. I still have another gift certificate that was promised, but hasn't arrived yet. I sent a follow up email a few weeks ago and another one today. It always happens that people promise donations but don't end up actually submitting them- even with pleasant follow up emails/calls. It is disappointing when that happens and I don't understand it. If people can't help, then it is easier for everyone involved just to say you can't do it. If you say you can help and then disappear when it comes time to actually donate the item or sponsor- then that is a very frustrating experience and a giant waste of time. I submitted my list of bachelors in order with their profiles to our designer who is donating her time. I'm still waiting for hopefully one more fire fighter who will be participating, but even if we don't get any more fire fighters, we are still good. I sent an email to all the bachelors/ettes today with event details for the date auction. It was a rather long email, but I think it is best to be specific- that way everyone knows exactly what they need to do during the event and how everything works. I even added "please read" to the subject line- I really wanted to make sure that everyone reads the email so they know what to expect for the date auction. I've been sending the same email for the past 3 years and I think it is beneficial- because come event night, none of the bachelors/ettes has ever come up to me asking how things worked! Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to eat some grapes (I have a super sweet bunch of grapes sitting in the fridge), read for a bit and watch some TV and hopefully get to bed earlier. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9 Days, Oh My!

Well friends- the countdown is on! Only 9 days to the Date Auction! Can you imagine? Nine months of work and now we are only nine days away from the big night. It seems a little surreal, even though I've been here four times before. Things are looking good, although I'm still waiting for info from some of the fire fighters and I have one sponsor who has not responded to my emails/phone calls, so I'm not sure what is going on there. Ticket sales are moving along really well which I'm very happy about. Our Stuff magazine ad came out yesterday, it looks good. The big email from Boston Event Guide goes out tomorrow, so that should hopefully push ticket sales even more. The Yelp newsletter which features the date auction goes out next Tuesday. Tomorrow, I have a networking lunch with my DWC Metro West group that I organize, then I'm heading to Braintree to pick up the sports memorabilia for the silent auction at the date auction, then heading to Boston to pick up a gift certificate for the date auction. I also need to send an email with event details and updates to the people being auctioned off. We only have a small silent auction at the date auction, but it is a good one. We have Spirit Airline tickets, Vidal Sassoon salon gift certificate and some other ones for restaurants, chiropractor and other outings. We have 7 autographed pictures- an assortment of Bruins items (which should be really popular), Red Sox and a Celtics Rondo picture. I get so nervous about the events. There is so much time and effort that goes into planning, so it needs to be worthwhile. The date auction has proven that its worthwhile, so that's not up for debate, but I get anxious about being able to repeat the success and keep it growing. There is a lot of pressure on this event and the anniversary celebration, especially since we have received less support this year from grants. So what else is going on besides event work? We're in the proofing stage of our 2012 calendar. The first round of edits is done andnow all the ads have been submitted. Lisa sent me a new proof this afternoon. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. I narrowed downt he cover picture to two photos- one of a little boy- and another of twin girls and a little boy. Before I saw the cover mock ups, I was almost convinced that I would go with the baby boy photo- it is absolutely dazzling in color. The cover photo (our calendar prints black/white) l looked good, but it wasn't as powerful as the color version. I think this is the first time that I've found such a difference between the color and black/white versions. I love black/white photos too. I would like to get that photo enlarged and framed- the baby is beautiful and the photo just came out perfectly. There are a couple of other photos from the calendar that I've fallen in love with over the years. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm going to take a break for a bit- finish reading The Help (loved it), watch TV for a bit and eat some grapes- ah, the excitement! I went to the WSN networking meeting tonight- it was my first time in my new role as ambassador coordinator. It was a good meeting. I'm enjoying my new role, I feel like I need more time to get used to it, but that is natural with anything new. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome September!

Well, here we are- the first day of September! Only 2 weeks and one day to our date auction- oh my! We sold more tickets today and our first email blast went out to the PS database. The BEG newsletter went out today and they included our event in the subject line of their email which was excellent. The ads that I have went on the website today- I submitted them this afternoon and our web guy did it immediately, even though I didn't list it as a priority job, that was very nice of him. So, I started work this morning and barely 10 minutes in- I hadn't even exercised yet- my computer loses its internet connection. Now, if you have been following my posts this week, you know that I've been working at McDonald's for the past few days because Comcast was out of commission. The last thing that I wanted this morning was to get booted off the internet. I tried to get on with my laptop, but that wasn't happening either. I had Marissa, the new volunteer coming in an hour and a half. I frantically called the techie genius who has a local business fixing computers, but no one was in yet- they do service calls in the morning and usually come in around lunch time. I had a mini meltdown. The computer in another room could get online, so I could use that one, but that didn't have any of my work documents on it. The good news is that my computer genius, aka Dick, came over by 3pm and got me back up and running. He is so nice- he is so back logged with work and people needing help with their computers, but he made a special effort to get over here immediately. I couldn't thank him enough. Things actually ended up working out well, because while fixing my computer, he found an unrelated issue that if left unfixed, could lead to the whole computer burning out- so it was a blessing in disguise that I got booted off the internet! It really makes such a difference when people really make an effort to be helpful. I feel like I spend so much time chasing after people and trying to get their support for things- it makes such a difference when someone comes through immediately. I really am grateful. Things worked out great with Marissa today. Even though we didn't have the internet, she worked on a bunch of other things related to the date auction. She is going to start coming two days a week starting next Tuesday. It really makes a difference having the help. Thigns were a little discombobulated today, so it wasn't the best day to start working here, but it worked out. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm getting tired- I feel like it has been an exhausting week. My last calendar photo shoot is Sunday in Weston which I'm excited for. I'm off to write my list, not eat anymore- I already polished off the remainder of the cantaloupe and just had some grapes, cheddar cheese and Pretzel Crisps- so delicious! Until next time friends... Happy Labor Day weekend to all!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye August

Well, I am very happy to announce that my temporary office at McDonald's has been disbanded. I am happily back to my normal work situation and nighttime blogging in bed! I do have to say that my local McDonald's was very helpful- they had fast wi-fi, relatively comfy booths and a couple of plugs and was only 2 minutes from home- it was as good a situation as I could have asked for. Their dining room is even open until 1am, so if I was a truly dedicated blogger, I could have whipped my laptop down there at midnight and blogged away last night. Since I couldn't watch television last night, I went on a cleaning spree in my office. It is looking a lot better, but I'm not sure if a random stranger who never saw the 'before' version would agree! Tomorrow, I have a recent college graduate coming to help which I am happy about. She is going to work on a variety of tasks- including the date auction. If things go well, which I'm expecting they will, I will talk to her about coming to work more than one day a week. Things have worked out so well with the recent grads that have been involved with Project Smile- they were the best helpers we ever had. Ticket sales are going strong for the date auction which is good news. Tomorrow, the email invitation to our PS database will go out. We include photos of 21 of our bachelors/ettes in the email invitation. There isn't enough room to put all the photos on the email. It's hard to choose which pictures to include, since we auction about 40 people. I choose 11 girls and 10 guys to feature. I try to show the diversity of the group and I have to use the sharpest pictures as well. Hopefully, the people open the invite, then go on our website to look at more pictures and get their tickets. I emailed the Globe today to inquire about getting more coverage for the event. We are already posted on Boston.Com, but for the last couple of years, the Globe has given coverage to the event which has been awesome. Our big email blast with Boston Event Guide goes out next Thursday and the Yelp newsletter is the following week. I feel like we are in a good place with the event and I'm really happy that I was able to save some significant money for the event and we have a great group of people being auctioned and we have the Patriots Cheerleaders attending and great hosts again AND the Sofft Shoes promo. So it really is shaping up to be a very successful event. Al that said, the anxiety level is tremendous. I get so anxious about having a disaster on my hands. I think that's a good thing to a certain extent because it keeps you on your toes and makes you work really hard to avoid potential problems. Even though this is our 5th event , it doesn't make it any less anxiety ridden. We also have Fall into Fashion Show coming up the following week, 9/22. Next week, I will send out the email to the Smiling Stiletto members and get it posted to my social groups. Tickets are selling steadily for that, especially considering it is 3 weeks away. Well friends, I am off to bed. I was going to go back and do more work, but I already caught up on a few things when I got home and now I'm just going to enjoy watching TV for the first time in 4 days and I think I'll have some cantaloupe too and write my list of course. Until tomorrow... I'm still waiting on some more ads for the date auction program. I've been emailing the people that I need the ads from, so hopefully they

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogging from McDonald's

Well, I am blogging from a corner booth in the local McDonald's. We lost internet/cable/phone in the storm on Sunday afternoon and it is still out. Thankfully, we didn't lose power. I am grateful to have power, but it gets rather frustrating not having things working properly. It is great to be able to have somewhere to go and work and we didn't lose power like a lot of other people did, so I need to keep that in perspective. One of the worst things is not being able to blog or catch up on emails late at night!

So what else is happening besides my return to the technological stone age? Things are moving along well on the date auction front. I'm in the process of putting the order together for our date auction bachelors/ettes and editing their profiles for space. I had one girl drop out yesterday, but we filled her spot immediately from the waiting list and I opened up another spot today. I'm still waiting for some of the info from the fire fighters and a couple of ads. Ticket sales are moving along steadily- although, in my perfect world, we would have already sold 300 tickets! We have a Smiling Stiletto Fashion Show the following week and we have been selling tickets for that for the last few weeks. We are almost all set for the gift certificates for the 'couples' to use on their dates.

Even though things are moving along well, I still feel really anxious about the events. I know that I'm doing everything possible to make the events successful, but that really doesn't take away the stress.

Well, I am off to have some tea and keep working. I'm sorry this is such a short post! Until tomorrow friends.. please wish my internet back on!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Major Problem and a Solution

Well, this morning got off to a seriously rocky start. I started my day with the calendar printer calling my cell phone to let me know that they are closing down on August 31 forever. I have been using this printer since our first calendar in 2004 and they do a wonderful job- so the news was very upsetting. Even more upsetting was that I was now left with finding a good quality printer who can do our job at a reasonable price. The printer did tell me that he would look into finding other printers who can do our calendar. I started researching printers in Massachusetts- there are still some in existence. I particularly wanted a printer who does the work in-house. It is usually cheaper and there is less chance of things getting delayed. I called a couple of printers. One gave me a price which was a little more than I usually pay and another gave a price that is cheaper than what I've been paying. I had a good feeling based on the phone call with the cheaper one- this was before he even came back with his price. I'm going to meet with them this week to show them the calendar so they can see what our finished product looks like (I already gave them all the specs) and to see some samples of their work. If we can get an equally good print job, done in an equally timely fashion and save a few hundred dollars, that would be great. I was so relieved that I found a solution to the problem. Not having a printer, just a few weeks before the calendar is ready to print, is very stressful. It is really sad when small businesses go under. This company had been in business for over 20 years. They used to employee 30 people, then last year it was nine people and this year was only 5 people because business had been slow. They do a great printing job, so it had nothing to do with the quality of their work.

In other news, we got two new bachelorettes signed up for the date auction today- they look like great girls, so I'm happy that they signed up. One of the ladies found out about the event on the BSSC website. It is so important to post the event everywhere, because you never know where people will end up seeing it.

I posted the Date Auction on Boston.Com today. I paid a little more to upgrade the listing so I could add a lot of photos- it really makes a difference. I also spent $30 to upgrade to some extra promotion. You can check out the posting at:

Well, it is almost 1am and I need to write my list and head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, we are to report date auction progress this afternoon! I emailed the sponsor that I've been waiting to hear back on and she wrote back that they are sponsoring at the same level that they did last year. I am very happy about that. We are almost at our sponsorship goal which is great. Since we've been able to cut cost from last year, even if we don't quite get to the sponsorship goal, we are still in a good position. In other good news, I spoke to the sponsor that I've been trying to connect with and everything is still a go with them. We also may have a potential sponsor for a shoe club event which will go towards Project Smile, so that would be really good news too. I decided to see if I could keep the momentum going and made another phone call to the fire department rep who was going to help recruit bachelors for the date auction- I actually got to speak with him and things are looking good to get some more fire fighter bachelors signed up. It feels great when things fall into place like this. I've been getting frustrated recently trying to follow up with people and not getting any response, so when I do get a positive response it makes it all that much better.

Yesterday, I rented our stage, tables and chairs for the event. The price is a little bit higher than last year, but not enough that it is worth it to look elsewhere. We've been using this rental company since we started and it works out well. They deliver and set up the stage and then pick it up on Monday. Tomorrow, I'm doing a walk-thru at Gypsy Bar with the events manager and the rep from Pretzel Crisps who is going to be doing a sampling at the date auction. They want to set up a lounge type area, so we are going to figure out where the best place is for them. I have another appointment after that and then a shoe club party that I'm hosting at McGreevy's in the early evening.

I need to get a photographer who would like to donate his/her time to come and photograph the date auction. One of my friends who usually helps photograph our events isn't able to do it. I usually do photos as well, but it would be good to have someone whose only job is to take pictures. So if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Calendar photos are wrapping up very soon. I did a lot of photos lately that are so adorable. I've just started the photo selection process, we still have a lot more pictures to go through. I still have some ads that I need to get sorted out- I need some people to send their ads in and there is one sponsor that has been there since the beginning, but I haven't been able to reach him.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to read The Help- I just got it out of the library, eat some delicious baklava which is waiting in the kitchen, write my list and then head to bed at a relatively decent hour. I'm blogging super early tonight so I can actually go to bed early- although that never seems to actually happen! Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, August 15, 2011

Manic Monday

Well, this title is an exaggeration- it wasn't a manic Monday, but I was thinking about that song- "just another manic Monday...". Tomorrow, it will be exactly one month to the date auction. Can you believe it? Nine months of work and now we are only 4 weeks away. It is a little nerve wracking, but I am excited. Our marketing is lined up- a lot of it hasn't started yet, but things are in place for it. The posting went live on the Professionals in the City website today. You can check it out at:

They will have it in their newsletter for the month too. Mix 104.1 is going to radio blasts about it leading up to the event and we are going to do a ticket giveaway to help build buzz. Tomorrow, I will post it on Boston.Com. I'll also post it for my Meet Up groups this week too. I submitted it two websites last week that I would love to have feature it, I haven't heard back yet. The Stuff magazine ad is almost done, I'm just waiting for news from one potential sponsor. We also submitted the listing for the Improper Bostonian last week too.

Tomorrow, I'm going to book our rental items for the date auction (stage, tables, chairs) and follow up with getting other gift certificates for the couples, auction items for both events and more marketing. I followed up today on a couple of Anniversary event sponsors that I hadn't heard back from- I didn't get a response today, but it is important to follow up.

For the last week, my daily list included writing our August newsletter. I didn't get to it during the day today and I was determined that I wasn't going to add it to tomorrow's list, so I spent the last hour working on it and sending it to Lisa. I think it turned out well. I need her help with choosing the right date auction image to use for the newsletter image. I'm quite glad that I don't need to add it to tomorrow's list- sometimes, the desire not to write the same thing on my next list is enough incentive to get things done that day!

Well, that's all for tonight friends- I'm off to read more of the good book that my sister gave me, write my list and then head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Latest and Greatest

Well, the week is winding down, what is the lastest? We did more calendar photos yesterday which went really well. We did photos at Quincy PD and the MTA police academy. I have two more photo shoots scheduled for next week. We still have more to do- I want to get them all done, but I can't wait forever. The deadline is the last week of August for photos. I still need some ads from people who have committed to sponsoring. It is always hard when I have to keep chasing people down to get their info. One would think that I would be used to it since it has been the same for the last seven years, but it still gets frustrating at times.

In good news- we have a new date auction sponsor! I am really excited about that. I met the sponsor at a networking event that I went to on Tuesday night. I wasn't even expecting to meet a potential date auction sponsor at that event. It is the perfect marketing opportunity for this sponsor, so I think it will work out great for everyone. I'm still waiting to hear back from another sponsor who has been involved for the last couple of years, they have expressed interest, so hopefully they will be committing soon and I will have more good news to report!

I lost one fire fighter last night who I was told was going to be in the date auction, but then I got a new one signed up this morning which was good. I picked up a gift certificate for the date auction in Boston tonight and I got a commitment for another one. We're also going to be a getting another salon gift certificate and a chiropractor certificate for the silent auction. I was also following up with donors who have promised items for both events, but we haven't received them yet. It really is rather amazing just how much time I have to spend following up with auction item donors- sometimes, I think about giving up, but then it is that last phone call or email which actually leads to the item being sent. It is so important not to give up.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm really enjoying the book that my sister gave me and I'm trying to get to bed earlier. I've been getting into this dreadful habit of going to bed even later now and it makes it so hard to get up a decent hour in the morning. I need to change that. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Calendar Work

Well, things are moving along well with our 2012 calendar. We have commitments for almost all our ad spots which is a relief. We haven't received payment for all of them yet, but that is OK. There is one spot that I'm waiting to hear back from, but it should be fine. The person who usually sponsors it has been on board since our very first calendar (when it was very hard to get people to participate), so hopefully they will keep supporting us. I did photos with Hopedale PD today- they came out so cute. We had 3 officers participating, two of the officers are twin brothers and they each have daughters who are close in age. It was hard to get a good group photo because the kids were so little, it gets difficult to get them all to look the same direction and sit still at the same time! Tomorrow, I'm at the police academy to do photos. After that we only have about 5 more photo shoots to do, then we can send it all to Lisa to work her design magic and then to the printer. On Friday, I'm going work with my volunteer Leni to choose the photos from the calendar. We've been working together on that task for the last few years. She enjoys doing it and I like having her help with the photo selection. It really does help to get a second opinion.

I went to a really good networking event tonight with a group that I've belonged to for years, the Downtown Women's Club Attleboro Chapter. I run the Metro West chapter of the same DWC group. There was a good turn out. I had met quite a few of the women before, so it was great to catch up with them and I also met some new women who were very friendly. I also met a woman who had been to our Anniversary Celebration two years ago, she bought the Southwest Airline tickets. She said how much she enjoyed the event and wanted to attend this year's event- which was great! I was getting a little tired before I left for the networking and wasn't particularly motivated, but I had signed up to go and it is important to attend events that one signs up for and it is important to go to networking events- so I'm really glad that I gave myself the little extra push to get out the door.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit and write my list. I think I'm going raid the fridge for more cherries. I was going to work for a bit more, I just sent some more emails for work, but I think I'm done for the night. Until tomorrow friends..