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...