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...