Thursday, December 20, 2012

Touching Donation

Today's donation to the Boston Public Health Commission's Entre Familia shelter was so touching. I got to meet a bunch of children which is something that I rarely get to do, so that made it particularly special. I didn't realize that they were going to be giving our items directly to the children and their moms right then. I thought I was dropping them off and taking a photo with the person who was coordinating the donations- pretty standard procedure for our donations. I figured the party was at a later date. It turns out that the party for the children was happening right when I made the donation and our items were the only ones for the kids. We displayed all our items on the tables and the children got to come up with their mothers and choose their gifts. I brought a supply of really lovely stuffed animals, small toys (mostly matchbox cars and a couple of games), coloring books, large packs of crayons and reading books. I wish I had understood that these were the only items the kids were getting and I would have bought some more toys, especially for the older children. The children were so lovely and happy to choose their gifts. The mothers were equally happy and they were so grateful as well. The mothers care so much about their children. One mom was so happy to get a new book to read to her child, she said she had run out of books. Another mother carefully selected the book for her child- she wanted to have a big book for her child, so there was plenty for her to read to the child. A number of the mothers are pregnant as well. I gave one of the pregnant mothers a cute little teddy bear that was super soft and perfect for little babies.

It really is something to think of the challenges the mothers must have faced that got them to where they are and how tough it must have been for them and their little children. Here are a couple of photos with some of the mothers and their children. A number of the children weren't able to attend, so the staff put aside items for them. There were also extra items left over for other children that come into the shelter.
 I was so happy that we were able to help with providing holidays gifts for these children. I definitely want to do it again next year and provide more items- particularly for the children who are older.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I hope everyone has a very happy Christmas! I'm looking forward to celebrating with my mom and siblings. Merry Christmas friends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Back on track

Greetings friends. I'm trying to get back on track- I've been sick with a cold and didn't get much done recently. Good news is that I started our nursing home donations on Friday. I still have a lot more to do. My voice has been so bad that I couldn't speak on the phone at all, but it is better tonight- so I can get back to my calls tomorrow. I also didn't want to walk into any nursing homes while sick- that is definitely not a good place to spread germs. I have to say, it must be so hard for people to work with chronic medical conditions. I get sick with a bad cold and I am totally down for the count. I can only imagine how hard it is for people that have to work when they are in pain and sick.

In excellent news- we received a $5,000 grant yesterday from a Foundation that started supporting us last winter. They have now donated $15,000 in grant money. I was so happy to open the envelope- I wasn't expecting it. These are unsolicited grants which is pretty amazing in itself. The Milford National Bank awarded us a $1,500 grant. I finally got to meet the bank president in person. I've been writing to her for years, but never met in person in before. The bank has been one of our longest and best supporters of our work. Local banks are such a huge support for community organizations and non profits. It is such a shame that there are fewer and fewer local banks in existence. Here is a photo from the check donation.

I couldn't write this blog without talking about the Newtown school massacre on Friday. My heart goes out to the children and adults who were killed. It is so devastating and horrific. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that the families are enduring. It is heart breaking to watch the coverage on television and hear the stories of the ones lost. Even the stories of survival are enough to make you cry. One of our board members, Michelle, partnered with a company that she was familiar with and is sending stuffed animals to the children at Sandy Hook elementary. I'm glad that we could help in a small way. I saw images on television of children holding stuffed animals and I saw an interview with a Red Cross spokesperson who said they were giving teddy bears to the children who were attending the memorial service on Sunday. I wish we had the resources to be more active in other states so we can provide stuffed animals for all emergency responders to have when they are at scenes involving children. We've donated to the CT State Police a number of times in the past, but over the past few years, I've focused most of our attention in MA.

Tomorrow, I'm heading off to a donation at the Boston Public Health Comission for their holiday party for the children at their homeless shelter. There are 23 children living at the shelter. I'm glad that they reached out to us for help with items. We have stuffed animals, books, coloring books, some really nice sets of crayons and even some small toys as well. Hopefully, I'll have some good photos to share tomorrow. 

Well, I'm now off to eat my grapefruit and wrap a couple more Christmas gifts- one of my favorite activities! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good News

Well, good news today! We were approved for a $1,500 grant in support of our Operation Elder Care program which provides stuffed animals for elderly residents of local nursing homes. I'm really happy about that. The local foundation actually increased their support for the program from last year. So tomorrow, I need to get cracking on contacting the nursing homes and scheduling donations. We didn't do any photos last year with any residents when I did the donations, so I'd like to do some this year.

Yesterday, we donated approx. 140 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Melrose PD. Here is a photo from that donation.
Thursday is our State Police donation and next week we are donating to Boston PD again. Those are two of the largest departments that we work with.

Calendar sales are picking up again which is good. A number of police and fire associations make annual donations and buy calendars to give to their members. We've had a few annual donations come in this week. I need to drop off the calendars this week. A woman in North Dakota made two $20 donations as holiday gifts for relatives recently. Along with the donation cards that she can give to her relatives, I mailed calendars for the relatives and the woman who donated. So there may be someone in N. Dakota who will be displaying a PS calendar next year!

Tomorrow, I'm speaking at the Attleboro Rotary Club's meeting. I'm looking forward to it and I'm nervous as well. It has been almost a year since I've spoken at a Rotary Club. I love speaking about Project Smile, but I'm a little nervous since I haven't done these speeches in a while. I'm going to work on it tonight and in the morning. Keep your fingers crossed for me please! Yesterday, I thought I was getting sick, so I'm really glad that hasn't happened.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to have my grapefruit, work on my speech and watch some more of this movie that I've only been half watching- it isn't very good. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Donations

So what's new? Well, the Boston Public Health Commission reached out to us today for help with donations for the children in their residential program for mothers in-need and their children. I'm not very familiar with the BPHC and didn't actually know that they had their own residential programs. They have a holiday party for the 23 children in the program and needed help with items for gifts. We're going to be donating stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons the week after next. The boss of the person who called me is a Boston police officer and he was familiar with our program. I'm happy that we're able to expand and reach more children, especially with the holiday donations. I can't even imagine how horrible it must for children not to receive any Christmas gifts. If I had money, I would help fund so many programs for holiday gifts for children.

There is lots more going on, but I'm getting tired. I promise to write more next time! Until tomorrow friends..


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Welcome December

It's December friends- I can't believe how fast this year has gone! I've started work on planning some of our usual events for next year. I have a lot more planning to do, particularly on researching new grants that we could apply for.

Yesterday, we did another donation to Saugus Police. Here is a photo from that donation. I like this photo a lot- the little police teddy bear is so cute!
Next week we are doing another donation to the state police. We have a small group of 3rd graders who collected stuffed animals for us. One of their mothers reached out to me last month about having the students join us on a donation, so they will be joining us next week at the state police headquarters. It only happens rarely that we have children who collected for us actually join us on a donation.

We're also doing a donation next week to a new department, Melrose PD. It is always awesome to add new departments to our program. I got an email tonight from a police department in CT asking how they could participate in our program. I'll get back to them tomorrow and send them some boxes of stuffed animals and books/coloring books.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat a home made chocolate chip cookie and some vanilla ice cream- I've been craving it since this afternoon. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday Happenings

So what's the latest friends? Well, good news- we will be getting another grant from a local Foundation which has supported us for the past few years. I was getting a little worried because they usually call us for an interview, but I hadn't heard from them yet and I knew their annual grant awards dinner was coming up next Wednesday. They had expanded their grant application this year and I thought that I did a good job with answering the questions. This afternoon, I received a phone call from one of the board members to let us know that we will be receiving a grant and inviting us to the dinner next week. I was so happy to hear from the Foundation and told the board member that I had been getting worried! He was very nice. He said that they have only been calling the charities that are new applicants in for interviews. Unfortunately, I have an event to attend next Wednesday, so I can't make the dinner.

We donated to our latest department, Chelsea Police on Monday. This is our 179th department! Here is the a photo from the donation. I like this photo a lot- even though I look quite small!
Tomorrow, we have a great Smiling Stiletto event at DeScenza Diamonds in Peabody. They are hosting a cocktail party for our members and giving away a $7,000 diamond pendant to one lucky winner. They're donating 10% of the the sales to Project Smile and we're asking guests for a $5 donation at the door. It will only be a small fundraiser, but every donation adds up, so I'm happy to have their support. They've put together a fantastic selection of appetizers and drinks for the guests and prizes, so I'm really looking forward to it. Organizing the Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club has been a wonderful way to help raise awareness and funds for Project Smile. If you'd like to join us tomorrow night, here is the link:
http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=lzytkqcab&oeidk=a07e6jwposs6a02b35e

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and attempt to head to bed early, but since it is almost 12:30 right now, I'm not sure if that will happen! Until next time friends...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Latest and Greatest

So what's new? Well, on Friday we donated about 150 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons and a few puzzles to the Dept. of Children & Families. That is my favorite place that we donate to. They work with so many children- there are over 7,000 children that enter foster care every year. I wish we had the resources to donate to DCF even more frequently.

Next week, we will be donating to our 178th department, Chelsea Police. It's always exciting to be donating to a new department. We do really well each year in adding new departments that we partner with. It is really hard, almost impossible, to keep up with donations to all the departments, but I do the very best that I can. I received an email last week from a department in New Hampshire. The juvenile officer emailed me and asked if we could send stuffed animals. He said that their department is in a ski resort community and they get a lot of car accidents involving children. He wanted the officers to have stuffed animals to give to the kids. I'm mailing boxes of stuffed animals to them tomorrow. We've only donated to a couple of departments in NH, so it is great to expand up there, even if it is only one more department.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I had a lot of stuffed animal donation emails to catch up on earlier tonight, I got most of them done. I'm now off to start a new Ian Rankin mystery that I picked up from the library today and have my grapefruit. Until tomorrow friends....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grants and Advice

Hello friends- I hope everyone had a good Veteran's Day weekend. I was thinking of my favorite vet this weekend- my grandfather. He was a proud WWII veteran. I've had a photo of him in his WWII uniform on display in my room for decades. I used to wear his dog tags all the time for good luck. My heart goes out to families of those serving overseas. I can only imagine how hard it must be for them.

So what's the latest? Well, I was reminded of how important it is to listen to your own advice. I was at an event on Saturday night and talked to someone about marketing his business. I told him that he should be gathering the email addresses for all the guests who attend his events. Almost as soon as I said that, I realized that I need to get better about collecting email addresses myself. I run a social organization for shoe and fashion lovers called Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club. The organization also helps raise funds and awareness for Project Smile. Our members typically bring guests with them to our events, but I haven't done much of anything to gather the info for the guests and I was missing an opportunity to grow our mailing list. We had an event tonight and I recruited one of our members who is very outgoing and friendly, to help check-in members and gather the email addresses for the guests. It is really important to pay attention to the advice you are giving other people and make sure you follow it yourself.

In good news- we received a $3,000 grant on Friday from the DCU for Kids Foundation. We received a grant from them last year. It is awesome when we have repeat grants like that- it really makes a big difference. You should have seen me in the post office on Friday- I must have looked a little odd as I kept pinching the envelope to see if I could feel a check inside. I do this routine with every envelope that might potentially contain a grant. As I walked back to my car, engrossed in envelope pinching- I was getting disappointed. The envelope felt too thin to contain a check. I got in the car and prepared myself for a rejection letter. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the check and scanned the letter. That rush of excitement when I receive a donation never gets old. It's that feeling that helps keep me going through the fundraising battle.

Anyways, I'm off to bed soon. I'm trying valiantly, but succeeding in only a minor way to get to bed earlier. I was doing great when the hour changed- at least for a few days. Tomorrow is a busy day- I'm doing two donations to Boston homeless shelters and then I have a meeting to attend in the evening. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest? Well, it's snowing and I missed my monthly women's networking dinner. I got half way there, but the roads were a bit slippery and I was really concerned about the roads driving home, so I decided to turn around and come home. I don't like missing the event, but I didn't want to risk an accident.

In more interesting news- the Glamour magazine containing Project Smile hit newsstands last week. I thought it was hitting stands this week, so I totally wasn't expecting to see it. I was heading into Boston on Friday night and stopped at a rest area on the Pike to use the bathroom. I was zooming through the convenience store on my way back to my car when I suddenly spotted it- sitting front and center on the magazine rack: the December issue of Glamour! Of course, I stopped to pick it up- I was so excited as I kept flipping through- it was hard to find at first because it's a really thick issue. I found the page and I literally squealed! It's a moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life- standing under the bright lights in the convenience store and seeing Project Smile's name in a national magazine for the first time- it was an emotional moment. I rushed back out to my card to grab my purse and came back in to buy the magazine immediately. It has been sitting proudly on my desk. I want to get it framed.

Yesterday, I received an email from a lady who was helping coordinate relief efforts in East Rockaway, NY for families who lost their homes and possessions in Superstorm Sandy. She asked if we could send stuffed animals for the children. I wrote back immediately that we would be happy to help and I shipped almost 150 stuffed animals yesterday to the E. Rockaway fire house which is their donation drop-off center. I'm so glad that we were able to help. It is so horrible what the families there have gone through. I'll check with them next week to see if they need more stuffed animals.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to do a bit of cleaning, read some more and eat a grapefruit- yes, the grapefruits have returned! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Welcome November

Well friends- November has started! October was a great month. It seems like it is too soon for November to be here already. So what's the latest? Well, I've been working on getting support for our local elder care program for the holidays. Last year, we donated stuffed animals at Christmas time for the residents of nursing homes. It was a big success. I definitely want to do it again this year. Last week, I wrote to a Foundation which supported it in the past. Today, I wrote to another local business to see if they would support it as well. I don't know why I didn't take any photos from the nursing home donations last year- I'll be sure to do that this time so I can share them. It is so sad for residents of nursing homes, particularly if they don't have family to spend time with them. I've been able to be there when some of the stuffed animals were given out and you'd be amazed at how happy the residents were. It brought such a smile to their faces.

So what else is going on? We have an awesome Smiling Stiletto event coming up on Thursday, November 29 with DeScenza Diamonds in Peabody. It is a cocktail party with comp appetizers, dessert and cocktails for guests along with special shopping discounts. They are donating 10% of the proceeds to Project Smile. We're also asking guests for a $5 donation at the door to Project Smile. DeScenza is giving away a $7,000 diamond pendant necklace during the event to one lucky lady! I started promoting the event last month. It should be a nice little fundraiser for us. Here is the link for details and registration.
1st Annual Smiling Stiletto Diamond Drop

On Saturday, we're doing another silent auction at Wine Fest in Boston. We've been doing silent auction there for the past few years and it has always worked out great. The event is put on by Boston Event Guide and they have always been very supportive of Project Smile. We do two silent auctions back to back at their afternoon and evening sessions. In the spring we raised a little over $1,000 which was really good. I love events like this that raise a decent amount of money without requiring a ton of time or effort. I wish we could do more of them.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read some more of this mystery that I'm really enjoying- "The Man From Beijing". I wish I had some fruit to eat, but I don't- how I miss delicious summer fruit! Grapefruits aren't in season yet- that is my usual winter fruit. Oh well, I might just have to finish off the rest of the eclair that is sitting in the fridge! Until next time friends....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Glamour Debut!

Well friends, I am very happy and proud to announce that Project Smile will be featured in Glamour magazine's December issue! The issue hits newsstands November 6 and we will be in the charitable giving section. Glamour reached out to me over a month ago about being included in their charitable giving article. We emailed back and forth, but I wasn't completely sure that we would actually make it into the magazine. This afternoon it was confirmed!

The funny thing is that I've been subscribing to the magazine since I was 16 years old. It was the very first magazine that I had subscribed to and I was so proud to do it- I thought that I was becoming a grown up with my glossy women's magazine subscription! I used to love reading YM magazine when I was a young teen, but my parents would never had allowed me to subscribe to it. When I moved to NYC and was alone for the first time, it was one of my first moves of independence. I can still remember sitting at the dining table in the apartment that I lived and filling out my address on the subscription card- oh, I felt so happy! I used to read the magazine as soon as it arrived every month and then when I moved to Hopedale, the magazine followed me. My younger sisters started to read it, my mom would flip through it. Over the years, magazine subscriptions have come and gone- I've grown up, become interested in other things- developed a love of cooking magazines, but through it all Glamour has always been renewed. I've always been a dreamer, so yes, I did imagine how awesome it would be to actually be in the magazine, but who would have imagined that it would come true? That my little idea has grown so much over the last nine years that it has now made it into a national magazine- amazing! To keep it all in perspective, it is a small mention in the magazine- not a feature article, but that doesn't matter- we are still in Glamour! I couldn't have made it this far without all the generous people that support my work with Project Smile- I hope you know that I share the happiness of this moment with you. Thank you!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to watch some more of the World Series and continue on my office organizing mission. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Polly Progress

Well, today was busy day. I zoomed over to Braintree to return the sports memorabilia items that didn't sell and then I zoomed up to Boston to drop off our donation of stuffed animals, books, coloring books and toys for the Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries annual children's holiday party. We've been donating items for their holiday party for the past few years. We donated a little over 200 items this time. We got some lovely book donations in recently, so I included a bunch of those. I also stockpiled some of the large boxes of crayons that have been donated over the year because those are perfect for events like this. We give out the smaller crayon packets in our regular donations. Here is a photo from today's donation.
I was able to finish a grant today and got it in the mail which I was really happy about. I hadn't actually planned on mailing it, but when I was driving home, I decided that I would just get it done and mailed today. It was almost done anyways. I struggled through grant writing yesterday. I've decided that grant writing is like exercise- if you haven't done it in a while, it hurts. The good news is that the grant is safely in the mail and now I can start working on the next one which is also due soon.

I've also been working on reaching out to the police and fire associations who usually make annual donations. I've contacted a number of them- some of them already donated at our Anniversary Celebration and I still have some more to do. I also need to write to the local Foundation about our Operation Elder Care program- where we donate stuffed animals for residents in nursing homes at holiday time. We did it last year at Christmas and it was a hit, so I definitely want to do it again this year.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read this new mystery that I'm really enjoying and watch some more of the World Series. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Event Success!

Well friends- we had a success! We raised $10,000 which was actually a bit more than last year if I remember correctly and had a great turnout. I was so happy that things went well and relieved. There was so much pressure, so much anxiety and it all worked out. Thank you so much to everyone who attended, who sponsored, volunteered and donated auction items. We had some great event volunteers who did an awesome job. I was so happy with their help. Dick Ferrucci, our host, did another fabulous job. Joe Kennedy, who is running for Congress, attended the event. He gave a nice speech about Project Smile and our efforts- it was very touching. He also bought one of the live auction items- a handmade birdhouse that my friend Brian makes. Our guest speaker, Richard Lodge, Metro West Daily News editor, did a really nice job as well. My friend Michael took photos. I posted them on our FB page today. Here is a nice one of Joe Kennedy and our board member Arthur and his wife- and me of course! The photo below that is with Miss Teen Mass, Joe Kennedy and Danielle and Caitlin who did a wonderful job helping at the event.
Saturday and today, I followed up with people who left bids on auction items but left before the event ended. I was able to reach most people and got payment for a bunch of items. I still have a few more items to get to people. There were a bunch of items that didn't sell, but that is OK. I can use most of them in our silent auction at Wine Fest next month.

It feels funny not to have to do any event work- I definitely don't miss it, but I haven't adjusted yet to not having to do any: event sponsorship search, auction item hunt, event marketing or my quest to get people to attend our events. What ever will I do with my time?? Just kidding! There is plenty of other things that need work. I also have to do two grants- one of which needs to get done this week. I like having this two month break before I need to start working on our next big events. It gives me time to forget about what a challenge event planning is. Next year will be really exciting since it will be our 10th Anniversary!

Well friends, that's all for tonight. I'm blogging super early tonight- it isn't event 9:30 yet! I'm off to watch more of the Giants/Cardinals game 7- my Yankees lost so I don't have much of a stake in the games anymore, but these games are still fun to watch. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Counting Down

2 Days to go friends- only 2 days to go! I am a mixture of really excited and really nervous. Excited because we have some fabulous auction items all ready to be bid on, our calendar looks terrific and things are looking good for the event. I'm nervous about event attendance. It is always a challenge and having a good attendance is a huge part of the success of any event. The good thing is that I've reached out to as many people as possible to invite them and asked for their help in bringing people. I've heard from a bunch that can't make it, which is disappointing, but I've also heard from a good amount that are coming. I sent a press release to the Milford Daily News today and they said they would get it into tomorrow's paper.

Yesterday, as we were plowing through our bid sheets, I suddenly felt so excited as I looked at all our auction items. I've worked really hard to get these items donated over the last 9 months and there have been a lot of great things that people have donated. I really appreciate everyone who has donated items and helped get others to donate.

I spent some time today working the first of two grants that I have to do. It is for a Foundation that has supported us for the past few years. Last year, I missed the grant deadline by a couple of days, but they graciously allowed us to still apply. I made sure to download the application early this year. The application has changed a little from last year, but it is fairly straight forward. I was struggling with it a little though. I think it was because I'm distracted with our event.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm going to go back into my office and do a couple of more event related things, then head to bed. You should see the office- it has such a funny collection of items stacked around the place- cases of beer, sports memorabilia, gift baskets, gift bags, boxes of bid sheets, tote bags, banners, display items, purses, American Girl Doll and more! I have so many bid sheets that I have used every single folder and paperclip in my office. This is going to be one heck of an auction!

Tomorrow, I have an appt. in Boston, then I'm picking up our delicious cake at Konditor Meister in Braintree, then dropping it off at the hotel. I also have to pick up our very last auction item in Bellingham. I think I'll zoom over there in the morning before heading to Boston. I'm going to keep working on last minute reach out to people. Well, that's the latest. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Days Away

Well friends, here we are- our 9th Anniversary Celebration is only 4 days away! After all this work- all the calls, emails and trips to get auction items, sponsorship search, guest speaker hunt, etc. we are in the home stretch. Things are in a good place. However, I am filled with anxiety as usual. I have a headache that keeps coming and going and I don't get headaches very often and I've been having anxiety dreams. My biggest concern is event turnout- it is always an issue. You can have the best auction items in the world, but if you don't have many people there to bid on them, then it doesn't help. Last year, we raised $9,000, so hopefully we will meet that again. I've been working on following up with everyone I invited and posting the event in different places. I've also been asking people who are attending to bring friends, coworkers, etc. The weather is looking decent for Friday which is good. I'm doing everything I can and I'll keep working on getting people to show up. We are almost done with bid sheets. I was up until 3:30am last night working on them and some other things related to the event. Tonight, I did the slideshow of calendar photos that we play during the event. A friend of mine borrows a projector from his office and we use that to play the slideshow. He has helped do that for the past few years and it is always a big help. The guests love to see the slideshow. I added a few photos from our donations this year to the slideshow as well.

I picked up 3 more auction items today. I have two more to pick up this week- one on Wednesday in Providence and the other, hopefully tomorrow in Milford. Tomorrow, one of our board members who has done an awesome job in getting items, will be dropping off items here. I've given up on chasing down anymore auction items. There are a number of people who promised items that I'm having major difficulty getting a hold of. Since we are only 4 days away, I need to stop trying to get the items. It always happens this way. The good thing is that I can rest assured that I did everything possible to try to actually get the items.

I have two grants that I need to work on, but I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to spend this week on them. I will spend some time on it,but the major focus of the week is getting ready for Friday and following up with people to get them to attend. I also got word that Patrick Kennedy who is running for Congress will be stopping by our event, which is great news!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, the goal is to get all the bid sheets finished, test the credit card machine and get a bunch of the other small details taken care of for the event. (live auction signs, stuffed animal decorations and other items to display at event) I also need to write my speech for the event and of course work on event attendance. I think I'll head to bed early- this headache is coming back. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday's Happenings

Well, I'm not sure where today went. I did get through most of the items on my list which was good, but we still have a lot to do and now I'm too tired to do anymore. My focus is following up with people that have been invited to the Anniversary event. Having all these fabulous auction items doesn't mean anything unless we have people there who are going to bid on them. I always have those nightmare images of an entire ballroom filled with great auction items and only 12 people there pretending to have a bidding war- not good! I've also been spending time following up on the last load of auction items that have been promised. I've been doing pretty well on the follow ups, but there comes a time when I have to stop doing that and let those ones go. I need to spend the time focusing on getting people to the event. However, I am also very determined and I hate to let go without getting the items that people have been promised. If I give up, then it was a waste of the time that I already invested in following up and then it is also potentially missing revenue.

Here is a photo of our donation yesterday to Boston PD. I think this might be one of the only donation photos with just me in it- I usually have someone from the department in the photo. We donated over 350 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. I've been making a lot more frequent donations to Boston PD which I'm really happy about.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I was going to work on bid sheets, but I'm tired and I'm going to head to bed early. Tomorrow, I'm picking up an auction item, then I have a meeting in my office which is always better than having to travel. In between, I'm working on reaching out to event guests and working on bid sheets for the auction and doing my last load of follow ups. Wish me luck! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Latest and Greatest

I hope everyone had a happy Columbus Day weekend. So what's the latest? Well, you may have seen the Boston Globe magazine on Sunday and you may have noticed a photo from the Project Smile Date Auction! We were in the Boston Uncommon section which features photos from events in Boston. I read that section every week and I've always hoped that one day we would be in there. Imagine my surprise as I stood at the kitchen table, sipping my tea, looking at the event photos.The funny thing is that although our photo was on the top, I saw my picture and caption last. I was so excited to see it in the magazine! That means the Date Auction has been in the Globe 3 times this year!

So what else is going on. Today we did another large donation to Boston PD. On Friday, we donated to Natick Police. The Lt. that I met there is a woman- it is always nice to meet women officers. We don't see very many of them. Here is a photo from Friday's donation.

I'm not sure why I keep wearing the same dress in so many of my donations this year. If you looked at my pictures all together from the year, you would think that either I did all these donations on the same day, I have no other clothes or I'm obsessed with that dress! The good news is that I did not wear the same dress for today's Boston donation.

We're getting closer to the Anniversary Celebration. Tomorrow, I'm going to be calling all the people that I've sent invitations to. I'm also going to keep working on reaching out to people and asking them to help by bringing friends to the event. I'll also send another email blast to our database. I picked up a load of awesome autographed sports memorabilia today along with Sam Adams beer. I've been following up with the last load of people that I still have to get auction items from. It has been hard to reach some people, but I'm confident that I'll be able to get the items from most people. There are always some people that promise items, but we never receive them. That is always frustrating. I'm not sure why people do that- it is much worse than just saying no. I spend a lot of time following up with people, particularly those who have promised to help, so when those people fall through it is a major waste of time. Thankfully, most people come through with their items, which is great.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I went to bed significantly earlier last night- OK, well actually it was 12:30, but that is significantly early for me. I felt a lot more energetic this morning and got a lot done before I zoomed off to Boston. I think I'm going to try that again tonight. I don't know how long I can keep that up- I usually get a burst of late night energy but then it takes me a long time to get going in the morning. Anyways, I'm going to have some more clementines- (another sign that summer is over- clementines are back!). Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welcome October

Ah, how did it become October already? Wasn't it just yesterday that I was working on the Date Auction? And the day before that I was taking calendar pictures? Now we are only 2 1/2 weeks away from our large fundraiser and last big event of the year.

The calendar is taking a very long time at the printers. I had received the initial proof in a timely manner and it was finalized early in the week following the Date Auction. I emailed the printer yesterday to check on it and it won't be ready until next week. I told them that I absolutely must pick it up by Oct. 12 and they said it would be ready. I don't know why it is taking so long. With the printer that I used to work with, the entire process took ten days. Now we will be going on 5 weeks to get it printed. I'm going to check in with the printer on Friday or Monday to make sure that things are on track. Obviously the calendar is a huge part of the Anniversary Celebration.

So what else is going on? Well, our Smiling Stiletto fashion show fundraiser is Thursday at Copley Place. I'm really excited for the event. It is only a small fundraiser, but Copley does most of the work for the event so that is perfect. Small fundraisers where we don't have to do a lot of work are awesome. The fashion shows are a lot of fun and it also helps with exposure for Project Smile. We get some great food and beverage vendors on board and there are lots of cool fashions. A member of Smiling Stiletto has been awesome in getting prizes donated for the shoe walk-off. He got a bunch of gift cards and a purse for us. It is wonderful when people make such an effort to help. Since he was so helpful, I asked him if he wanted to help judge the shoe walk-off along with our host Emily Riemer from News Channel 5 and stylist Tricia Cromwell.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to watch some more highlights from the Yankees win tonight- I missed watching most of the game, but I listened to it while driving home and the rushed in the door to turn on the TV and watch the last few extra innings. What a great ending for my Yankees! Until tomorrow friends....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Busy Days

So what's the latest? Busy days over here! We got our Date Auction photos- they came out great. Our photographers, David Fox and Walter Smith, did an awesome job. Above is one of my favorites- BSSC was giving away sunglasses at their sponsor table. Here is one of my favorites from the crowd and a photo of some our bachelors and one of our bachelorettes.
 Here is the link to the rest of our photos.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151149928264536.462026.50833009535&type=1
 And
 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151155728119536.463183.50833009535&type=1

Things are shaping up well with the Anniversary event. I've mailed all the invitations that needed to get sent out and I've posted it in the Meet Up groups that I'm involved with. I've been considering doing some paid online marketing for the event. There is a well known website that can target an email blast to 10,000 members in the greater Milford area for a very reasonable rate, so I think I will go with that. We need to reach as many people as possible for this event and since this advertising is affordable, I think it will be a good idea.

I picked up a beautiful Pandora bracelet for the live auction today. It is even prettier than the one they donated last year. The Legacy Place store has been very supportive of Project Smile for the past couple of years. I've also been working on following up with people that promised auction items. I've scheduled some pick-ups and still have more people that I'm trying to reach.

It is so important to have a good subject line in your email blasts. I try to make an effort with mine and I think I do a pretty good job, but there are always ways to improve. I received an email today from an organization which does shopping events for women. I've been to their events and similar ones in the past which have been helpful for finding sponsors. I hadn't been planning to attend their latest event, but I got an email today with such a catchy subject line: "We Want You Back at (name of event). The line really caught my attention, so I opened it. They were also doing a really good promo, so I decided to buy the ticket. It inspired me to work on a new subject line for our Smiling Stiletto fashion show fundraiser which is happening next week. We sent the email invitation a few times already and I was planning on sending it again tomorrow anyways, so tonight I spent some time working on a new subject line to grab people's attention even more.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit- I'm reading a good mystery by Ian Rankin. I also have to catch up with some emails. I should spend some time organizing my office which is looking like a small tornado touched down. It has improved though- yesterday, it was resembling a much larger tornado. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moving Along

Well, we are moving right along to our next event which is exactly one month away! Our 9th Anniversary Celebration! I mailed a lot of invitations yesterday and today, I still have more to do. I've also been reaching out to people to help spread the word- that is a huge way to get people to attend. One lady who attended last year and also donated a lovely gift basket for the auction, bought 6 tickets which was awesome. We still have a long way to go, but we're making progress. I've also been following up with people who have promised auction items but haven't sent them in yet- there are quite a few that I have to connect with again.

There are some great photos on Boston.Com from the Date Auction. They were taken by photographer Bill Brett who is really well known for his photos. Here is the link- it is so exciting that he photographed our event:
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/2012/06/25/bill-brett-boston-party-pictures/apPgitZwuyFQPpelxjp9uL/gallery.html?pg=17&t=150&cp=17

The calendar is ready to be officially printed. Last week, the printer sent over the proof, but I didn't have a chance to really look at it carefully. Yesterday, the website that they sent file through (YouSendIt) wasn't loading properly, so I waited until today to really look at the files. The goal with this proof is to make sure that all the ads and photos are in their proper positions and the calendar is properly formatted. There was one ad that wasn't formatted properly- half the ad was missing. This would have been horrendous if it hadn't been caught. They fixed that and sent me a new proof for that month. I did one more look through the entire calendar and then gave the printer the go-ahead. I'm so excited to see the printed calendar. The little girl on the cover is so beautiful- you want to give her a hug through the photo! Her parents are coming to the event- I'm really looking forward to showing them the calendar.

Well, that's the latest- I'm really tired. I think I've forgotten about a lot of the things that I wanted to write about! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Date Auction Success!

Well friends, it was another terrific night for the Date Auction! The months of effort, the stress and anxiety- it was all worth it. We had another awesome attendance and we raised $14,000 for PS. That is less money than last year, but I'm happy with it. We were featured in the Names section of the Boston Globe today which was excellent. This is our second time in a week to be in the Globe. Here is the link to the photo/write-up:
http://www.boston.com/names/2012/09/16/date-auction-raises-money-for-project-smile/1pZ2tMkJmffVJlySeuu3sJ/story.html

I had a ton of great feedback from the people who were guests and also the bachelors/ettes. It's always great to hear the feedback. We had some awesome staffers that were sent from a staffing agency that has been supporting our event. They worked with the volunteers and did a great job ensuring that the event ran smoothly. There were so many people that helped make the event possible- our sponsors, hosts, Gypsy Bar, donors, participants, guests, volunteers. Thank you to everyone who supported our fundraiser. I couldn't have done it without you and I appreciate everyone's help.

There is always so much work to do after an event- it is funny how I forget that. I spent time following up with people who bid on our silent auction items, contacting the winners for the Sofft shoes gift cards (they were so happy) and thanking people who were involved. I got most of it done today, but there are a few more things that need to get done. I can't wait to see event pictures. That is one of the best things after an event.

Now that the Date Auction is over it is full force onto our next big event, our 9th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19. The paper invitations came out beautifully. I had a volunteer in today who was working on addressing the invites. We still have a lot more left to do. The goal is to get them out over the next couple of days. Then we start with the email blasts and reaching out to other people to help bring guests. This event is equally important as the Date Auction and needs to be another big fundraiser.

We also have our fall fashion show fundraiser at Copley Place on October 4. The event is part of Boston Fashion Week. It is shaping up to be another lovely night. The email blast about that will go out tomorrow to our Smiling Stiletto members.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm really tired. The pressure from the Date Auction is over, but now it is all about the Anniversary Celebration. It does feel funny not to keep checking my email every 10 minutes to check on ticket sales- I was rather obsessed. Thank you again to everyone who helped make our event a success. Your support means so much to me! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Night Before

Well friends, here we are- the night before our 6th Annual Project Smile Charity Date Auction.  This morning, I was walking around with a permanent knot in my stomach, but that has dispersed and now I feel peaceful. Things are right where they need to be for tomorrow. We have done really well in advanced ticket sales which is always a huge relief. Our stage and rental items are all waiting at Gypsy Bar. I have a couple of small things to do tonight, but everything else is done. I did another test with my credit card machine earlier today and it worked fine.

I actually felt a child like sense of wonder tonight when I was thinking about the Date Auction. It is pretty amazing when you think back to the beginning- our first date auction was 2007 and we've grown so much since then. Every January, I start all over at the beginning- getting hosts, sponsors, auction items, gift certificates, participants, marketing- there are so many pieces that have to come together for this event, it really is something. It is a lot of work and I'm really grateful for everyone who has donated, who has given their time, who has bought tickets, who is participating, who has helped spread the word- I couldn't have done this alone and I really appreciate all the support. However things turn out tomorrow night, the least that I can say is that I'm proud of what I've done and I know that I've done everything I could to ensure a successful event. I've walked through the event a million times in my head, trying to solve every problem before it comes up and of course- we've been there before, so I do know what to expect for the most part. If certain problems do arise, I've thought of ways they could be solved. Naturally, something could happen tomorrow night that I totally didn't expect, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. This time tomorrow night, hopefully I will be able to rejoice in the success of a great event.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. Please wish us much success tomorrow night. This is a huge fundraiser for us and hopefully, all the effort over the last 9 months will lead to another great night. Until next time...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Track

Well, we are only 3 days until the big night. I can't believe it is almost here. All of this work and it is now in the home stretch. So how are things looking? We are looking good. I get nervous when I say that because I think that I'm going to jinx things, but we are in the right place. Ticket sales are exactly on track for where they need to be. Our program is headed to the printer- we did our last update today. I've been holding it in case of any other last minute bachelor/ette drop-outs. I finished our silent auction bid sheets, bought the table covers and I'm getting all the other small, but important things together. I use battery powered lamps at some of our silent auction, registration and vendor tables because Gypsy Bar's lighting is rather dim. Three of the lamps that I've had for a while weren't working anymore, so I went to Walmart today to pick up some new lamps. They're technically camping lamps, but they are perfect for what I need. I was checking out and the cashier asked me what Project Smile was. I told him and then I mentioned we were having a big fundraiser on Friday. He asked if it was a camping event- which would make sense given I was buying 3 camping lights. I laughed and told him it was in a club.

 We have 4 staffers coming on Friday from a staffing agency which has been a huge support for us. The company is paying for them to be there. It is great to have that help for the event. I keep walking through the event in my head- thinking of anything that can go wrong and making sure everything flows smoothly. Obviously, we've done this 5 times before, but you still need to keep mentally running through the event. I did a walk-thru yesterday at Gypsy Bar and everything is looking good. The Cabot Cheese arrived for the Date Auction today. Right now, we have about 24 blocks of cheese in the fridge just waiting to get cut up. If I get a cheese craving, I know where to turn (just kidding!).

Well, that's the latest. I'm back to work on Date Auction things. I've updated our volunteer duties and now I'm going to work on writing a list of duties for our staffers. It really helps everyone involved to have things written down. Until tomorrow friends..


Thursday, September 6, 2012

What If...

What if you give it your all and that isn't enough? What if you put 100% and still fall short? It happens all the time. I was thinking about that when I was driving home from a Smiling Stiletto event tonight. When I started working on PS full time 8 years ago, I don't remember that it ever crossed my mind that I couldn't do it. I don't think I ever thought that far ahead- it was all about focusing on the small steps which let the bigger pieces fall into place. I suppose that the idea of failure must have crossed my mind, but I was 24 years old at the time and it didn't matter. And for eight years, my all has been enough- with the help of many others of course.

 So what's the problem? Event anxiety is the problem. I've put my all into the Date Auction and I'm anxious about ensuring it is another success. It is shaping up to be a wonderful event, but that doesn't lessen the concern. I've done everything that I can with the marketing, outside of having a huge marketing budget. We have some fabulous people being auctioned off and great hosts and sponsors. We're not in the hole for any money due to the sponsorship dollars raised- the event is 100% profit.  I am trying to relax but there is a lot of pressure on this event- there is pressure to raise money, create a good buzz, make our sponsors happy, have a positive experience for our guests so they want to come back and justify the time and effort that was spent on the event. I've been sick with a cold for the past few days, so of course that doesn't help with feeling anxious about the Date Auction. The good news is that I am feeling better tonight. I'm going to work on relaxing and keep chugging along with the things that need to get done for both events and following up on marketing outreach.

In other good news- I am done staring at the PS calendar proof. I went through it 3 times this morning before I gave Lisa the go-ahead to start finalizing the calendar for the printer. This morning, I looked at first for spelling and make sure the photo captions were in order. Then, I looked at the dates and ad placements. Then I looked at it again for both things. I've done this a bunch of times. Proofing is so important, you need to keep looking at things- you never know what mistakes you could have missed or you see an improvement that can be made.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, I'm picking up table covers and name-tags for the auction and doing our bid sheets for the silent auction portion of the event. I'm also working on promotion and our Anniversary Celebration. I have a potential volunteer coming in for a meeting in the morning. It would be great to have a regular office volunteer, so hopefully it will be a good meeting. I'm now off to munch on some honeydew melon- the first one that I've had this summer and it is delicious! Before I go- a special Happy Birthday shout- out to my sister Cordelia!
Until next time friends...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Busy Days

Well, it is almost 12:30, but I didn't want to go to bed without blogging. Yesterday, I got an email from the lady that I work with at DCF. She said that the Lawrence office had an urgent need for stuffed animals and asked if I could make another donation. I'm dropping off some boxes tomorrow at the Boston office and they will send them to Lawrence. I'm happy that they reach out to us to help. Partnering with DCF is one of the best things that we've done.

Today, I did another donation to the State Police over 364 stuffed animals. They are very supportive of our efforts. It is a huge department and they deal with a lot of traffic accidents involving children, so it is really important that we're able to make ongoing donations there. I don't have a picture to share with you right now. I had my eyes closed in the picture on my camera, but the state police took a bunch of photos which they're going to email me. The ones from our last donation came out great, so I'm looking forward to seeing these ones.

In other news- I decided to give my credit card machine a test run this afternoon in it's store/forward mode and guess what- it didn't work! The S/F mode allows us to take the machine to events, swipe the credit cards and process them when I get back to a landline. I was going to test the machine next week to make sure it was working (the problem from our last event was supposed to have been fixed). However, I realized that I'd have to use the machine next week, so I decided to test it with my cc this afternoon. I immediately called the help line and they walked me through downloading another new program for it. I tested it again and it worked fine. I'm keeping the machine plugged in for the next few days. I'll test it again before the event next week. It is so important to stay on top of things- you can't take anything for granted that it is going to work fine. You need to check everything.

Our 2013 calendar is looking great. Lisa sent it back to me with the latest changes. It needs two more little things fixed, but other than that, it looks wonderful. The little girl on the cover is so adorable- you just want to reach through the picture and hug her! I'm going to wait a few days before I give Lisa the go ahead to do the final version. I like to keep looking at it to make sure everything is perfect. It is so important to look at things more than once- you see things differently when you step away and come back to something. You can notice mistakes that you haven't seen the other three times that you look at something. I think that is part of the reason that I'm a planner- I hate to be rushed- it is stressful and anxiety causing and it makes one prone to mistakes. When you take your time, relax and focus- you have a much better chance of a positive result. Also, I've spent so much time on this calendar and it is a huge thing for us- there is no reason to rush the final product.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm trying to stick to a 1am bedtime, but I've been failing miserably. I'm heading off to sleep now though- my eyes are tired and I'm starting to get a headache. Until next time friends...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Moving Along

Well friends, we are moving in the right direction. An awesomely helpful Boston fire fighter recruited 6 single fire fighters for the Date Auction which is terrific. Two of the guys sent me their info very promptly. We have finally filled all our bachelor spots. A number of the people who are being auctioned off are being great in spreading the word and inviting their friends. It is really funny how things work- two girls dropped out last week and I replaced them with two ladies from the waiting list. I asked one of the women if she had any single guy friends that would like to participate- she gave me the name of her friend who immediately signed up. It turns out he works in marketing and club promotion and has a huge social connection. He said he was really excited to participate and is going to be inviting a ton of people. It makes a huge difference when you get people on board who have a lot of contacts and really want to help get the word out.

I reached out to a media person today and she is going to help by getting our event into the newspaper. She said that she'll wait until next week to include it, so it is closer to the event. She wanted to include some names of people participating, so I emailed some of the participants to get their permission to have their full names used in the paper. Almost of them responded quickly with their permission. I'm really happy to get this extra publicity.

In other news (yes, there is actually other news!)- I did a donation today to our newest department; Attleboro PD. I was talking with one of the officers for a while and he was very receptive to our program. They keep the stuffed animals in bags in the cruisers and at the station for children that come in. We were talking about fundraising and I mentioned the Date Auction coming up- it turns out that he has been friends for a long time with the officer who met his wife at our first Date Auction. He was telling me about how when the guy who ended up getting married first met Elizabeth, he came back and told the officer about how he had met a girl at the event and really liked her. I love how it is such a small world!

Here is a photo from our donation today:
Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some yogurt and pineapple. I bought peaches today, which I would love to have right now, but they are nowhere near ripe. Until tomorrow friends.. keep wishing me ticket sales please!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tickets and Shoes

Well friends, the Date Auction ticket sale anxiety is setting in and probably isn't going anywhere for the next 3 weeks. Last week, we were ahead of tickets sales from that point last year, but now we are a little behind and that of course creates an internal panic. There is a knot that occurs below my chest and above my stomach and it pretty much never leaves until the Date Auction happens. We are copying all the exact same marketing from last year and even increasing it with our BSSC promotion. I've been reaching out to the people who are participating in the auction and asking them to spread the word to their friends/coworkers and social network to get them to attend- that is always one of the best ways to reach people. The good thing is that we are not in the hole for the event- we've actually exceeded our sponsorship goal. Every single ticket sold is all profit and of course all the proceeds from the event go directly to PS. Our goal is to match the $20,000 that we brought in last year. There is a ton of effort and time that goes into the Date Auction, so it needs to be an awesome attendance and we do need it to be a financial success. We want to raise money, raise awareness, make sponsors happy and build the buzz. Last year's event was the best ever, so there is every reason to expect that will continue- especially since we're doing all the same things as last year for marketing. However, nothing is ever a given and I worry just as much as the first time we did it. It doesn't get easier and it doesn't get less stressful.

In other news- the sample shoes arrived from Sofft and they look beautiful! Sofft also sent me a pair to wear for the Date Auction which I am incredibly excited for. I chose a pair of dark green suede pumps with an ankle strap. I couldn't wait to open the box and try them on. They look gorgeous- elegant and classic and they fit well too. I was prancing around in them for a bit this morning. I definitely will be wearing them a lot this fall. They are good shoes because you can wear them for work and also for an evening event. They are round toe which is my favorite style. It has been awesome to work with Sofft for the past 5 years. They are so supportive. It is a great promotion to have for the Date Auction. Among the samples they sent were a pair of leopard pumps which are absolutely adorable.

Today, I did another donation of stuffed animals, books, coloring books and crayons to SMOC which is based in Framingham and manages a number of homeless shelters throughout the area. They actually had a little girl in the room next door with her family- they were new to the program- and one of the staff members gave her a stuffed animal. She was very happy to get it. Here is a photo from today's donation.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to bed- trying to stick to my 1am bedtime. Lisa, our designer, sent me a proof of our 2013 calendar this afternoon. I only had time to look at it quickly, it looks good. Tomorrow, I'll be working on proofing it and date auction promotion- those are the two biggest priorities. Until next time friends- please keep wishing me ticket sales...



Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Marvels

Well, there weren't exactly any marvels today, but I liked the title. So what's new? I scheduled our donation to our 177th department today- it will be Attleboro PD next week. A friend also put me in touch with a Boston area department. I spoke to them today and hopefully, we will be donating there soon. We're also doing our next donation to the State Police next week. Thursday, I'm doing another donation to a metro west shelter that we've been partnering with for the past couple of years. This was a good day for scheduling donations.

Things are progressing well on the date auction front. Today, I was putting all the bachelorettes in order. I already spent time putting all the profiles together. Some of the profiles need to be edited for space. It takes a long time to put the bachelors/ettes in order. I don't have an exact process that I follow when choosing the order. I try to group some of the people together by age, sometimes I group by occupation- I do that more with the guys than the ladies. A lot of it is a feeling- I pour over the photos and profiles and put them in the order that I feel will work best. I finished it earlier today, but I didn't send it to Marie yet, our designer who is generously donating her time to do the program. I want to take one more look at it in the morning. I've pulled the bachelor profiles together, but I haven't put them in order. I'm waiting for more fire fighters first.

Our email invitation is almost ready to send out. Our web host did a test email today and it just needs a couple of little changes. It should go out to our PS database tomorrow. This is the earliest we've had the final version ready. The final version has photos of about half of the bachelors/ettes on it. The invitation looks great. If I opened it, I would definitely want to go to the event. Originally, I was going to send the version without the photos first, but then I decided to wait until we had the finished version with the pictures because I was concerned that people wouldn't open the second version because they thought they had already seen it. This invitation is also the same one that we will use in our Boston Event Guide email blast. It is our single most important piece of event marketing.

Wednesday is our Smiling Stiletto summer soiree fundraiser at the Northshore Mall. I'm really excited for the event. The mall does all the work organizing the event. I help recruit members of Smiling Stiletto as models and we promote the event to our members. The tickets are $10 and all the proceeds will benefit Project Smile. It will be a small fundraiser, but that is fine- every dollar we raise is important. It also helps raise awareness for Project Smile. Fashion shows are a lot of fun. It is also great when we have events in which I don't have to do all the work!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's lots more to write about, but I'm getting a bit of a headache and I'm going to head off to the fridge in search of a peach that may or may not be there... until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Latest and Greatest

Well friends, we are exactly one month from the Project Smile Date Auction! All this work and we are hitting the home stretch now. I can't believe it is getting so close- I love it and it is also nerve wracking. Ticket sale anxiety is already setting it, but I need to keep it in check. It takes a while to get ticket sales going- I need to keep reminding myself of that. We are doing all the same marketing as last year and we're auctioning off the same number of bachelors/ettes, so there is every reason to believe that we will be on track for ticket sales.

Yesterday, I was working on contacting police departments and homeless shelters to make follow-up donations. I called one department that we hadn't donated to recently- the woman that I spoke with was so enthusiastic about Project Smile, it was great. She was talking about how they have children coming into the station all the time for a number of reasons and it was wonderful to have something to give them- what a difference it made for children. She said they were definitely in need of more items. I'll be in there on Thursday to make another donation. It was great to hear her feedback.

Here is a great story about the importance of following up. In early spring, I reached out to a sponsor who has been supportive of PS and our Anniversary Celebration over the years. I didn't get any response about sponsoring our anniversary event, so in July, I called the person who handles getting the sponsorship info to their committee. She said that if they had chosen to sponsor, I would have heard back and that they can't always sponsor every year, etc. I was disappointed and asked if I could send her the info again and see if the committee could reconsider. She said I could. I waited a couple of weeks- partly because I got wrapped up with other things. I emailed the sponsorship info again and today I received a check for a platinum sponsorship! Now, I don't know if perhaps they had waited to review the info until it was closer to the event, but I am so glad that I asked if I could resubmit it. The funny thing is that I don't usually say that when sponsors turn things down. Maybe I need to start doing that more often!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, I'm hopefully I'm doing our last calendar photos. Then I need to finish a grant that I've been working on. I need to work on date auction promotion, anniversary event auction items and following up with other departments. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Coming Together

Well friends- we are getting there with our two big fall events and our calendar. Every year, I think it isn't going to come together, but slowly and surely things do come together. Things are far from complete of course, but we are where we need to be today- and that is all that matters. I finally have sponsors committed for all of our calendar ads (not all paid for) which is a huge relief. I have one more photo shoot to do, then photos are finished. I've sent all the photos with my notes to Lisa, so she is ready to start working on putting the calendar together. I'm still waiting for ad copy from some of our sponsors.

I was at the police academy today recruiting bachelors for the Date Auction- that is always one of my favorite visits! the Academy is very formal, so it is quite an experience to enter a room where everyone stand up when you walk in and addresses you as 'ma'am'. It is always a very pleasant group and we've done great in the past with the bachelors that have signed up. We got 5 guys and one lady signed up, which was great. The recruits usually bring their classmates with them which helps with ticket sales. It is a fun night out for a group as well. Hopefully, they will send in their details/photos in a timely manner so I can get that taken care of. I should be getting a bunch of fire fighters signed up soon, so then I will be all set for guys as well. Marie, an awesome designer who donates her time to do the date auction and anniversary event programs, is on board to help again. That saves us a lot of money, especially since the date auction program takes a lot of time with all the profiles/photos of the bachelors/ettes.

Yelp is helping out by designating a bunch of tickets for the Food Truck festival for our use in the Date Auction. We can give some of them to the 'couples' for their dates and in the silent auction. Yelp is also going to do a check-in game where people will be entered to win some tickets as well. This will be the first year that I don't have to buy extra gift certificates, so that is awesome.

We're repeating the same marketing that we did last year and actually saving $100. I need to contact the rental company for the stage/tables, if there fees haven't gone up, then we will be under budget from last year. I've already exceeded our sponsorship goal for the event, so things are looking good on that front.

I always get anxious when I say that things are going well- I don't want to jinx anything. In my perfect world, we would have already sold a ton of tickets, but that isn't realistic, so I can't get anxious about that. I've been working really hard to get things to where they are today with all of our events and calendar, and I am relieved that we are making real progress and these events are coming together well. I can't predict the future, but I can do everything possible to set things up right.

Well friends, that's it for tonight- I'm off to watch more Olympic coverage which I'm obsessed with. I don't know how I'm going to go back to watching baseball and football when the Olympics is over- they look so boring in comparison. Until next time friends...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good News

Well, good news today- we have a speaker for our Anniversary Celebration. Richard Lodge, the editor of the Metro West Daily News will be speaking. I've met him before- almost 10 years ago when I was teaching a summer writing program for children. I've always remembered him because he was so nice and really connected with the kids that he met and gave a tour to. I'm happy he is on board to speak and I think he'll do a great job. He must have a lot of interesting stories to tell. I'm also really glad that I've the speaker situation taken care of. It has been dragging on for quite a few months. We are now one step closer to a great event!

I've noticed a funny trend this year with the date auction with people signing up for the date auction, but then never sending in their info and not responding to follow up emails. These are all people that have reached out to me to participate or were recommended by their friends. There are always some people that never send in their info every year, but there are a lot more this year. I'm not sure why someone would reach out to sign up, but then not respond or why someone would tell their friend they would participate, but then ignore emails about the event. Obviously, people can change their mind, but a quick email to say that there not going to participate is much more helpful than ignoring the emails, so I'm left not knowing if they even received it.

I thought that our Stuff magazine ad for the Date Auction was all set. I really liked how it looked when I viewed it online, but then I decided to print it out so I could make sure the QR code worked. The ad was scaled to size and when I looked at that way, I realized that it still needed work. The ad isn't popping enough. We need to make the logos smaller- which is unfortunate but necessary. I'm also going to remove the ticket price which isn't absolutely necessary so we can make another part of it larger. I'm really glad that I printed it- I don't like printing because it wastes paper and ink, but considering this is going to be a print ad- I need to make sure that in the future, I always print them first.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. Tomorrow, there is a lot more event work for the two big fall events, our fashion show fundraiser this month and I need to make some serious grant progress. I also need to work on contacting more police and fire departments for donations. Now, I'm off to watch some more Olympics coverage- I love watching the Olympics, it is so impressive see what these amazing athletes can accomplish. It is also a lot of fun to watch sports that I never otherwise would watch. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Welcome August

Well, August is off to a good start. Things are coming together for the calendar and our events, particularly the date auction. I had reached out to a marketing company that has helped us for the past few years with gift bag items and I asked them if they could help us again with gift bag donations and also with restaurant gift certificates. They sent some really nice gift bag certificates and they also sent 5 restaurant gift certificates, which is absolutely awesome! I really needed help with some extra certificates, so this is great. For the last few years, I've had to buy additional certificates because I couldn't get enough donated. It looks like this year, I won't have to do that.

Lisa has created the ad for Stuff magazine- we talked about the ad yesterday- it usually is a mini version of our flyer and it needed to pop more. It is a quarter page ad, so we don't have a lot of space to work with. Lisa has reversed the colors to make it a black background. She moved the logos as well. This is by far the best ad that we've had for Stuff.  Lisa also did our banner ad for BSSC. It is a small banner which will link to our site. Since it is a small space, we used a single girl image which is really eye catching. We added the tagline- "Boston's biggest fall singles event' to it. When I first opened my email and saw the image, I loved it. I've used the same image for the posting in the Yelp newsletter as well. I wanted to keep all our images consistent, but you also have to use what works best in the space that we are working with. In these cases, where we have small ad images, the image of one girl is more powerful than the group image which is on our website and event flyer.

This afternoon, I worked on one of my favorite tasks- choosing our calendar photos. It is a really time consuming task. It gets tiring as well, so I switched to other things- I didn't want to lose focus and start rushing through the photos just to get it done. There is so much to look for when choosing the photos- color, shadows, layout, expressions, body language. I did a photo with a beautiful little girl last week and I think I've found my cover girl. I won't know for sure until I see the calendar cover. Sometimes, photos can look different when you see them in black/white and fitted for the cover.

I was really struck by the photos from one shoot in particular. I did photos of two girls- one about 4 years old and the other was about 11 years old. I spent most of the photo shoot focused on the little girl and getting her to look at the camera and smile. The older girl was always smiling and looking at the camera, so I wasn't too concerned with her. When I looked at the photos, the older girl is so captivating in the pictures- she was a cute girl in person, but there is something about her in the photos that really stands out. She has a lovely smile and incredibly bright eyes- she radiates in every picture. I've photographed plenty of cute kids over the years, but I've never had it happen where someone radiates through her pictures.  I don't know how I didn't notice this in person- I think I was so caught up with getting a decent photo of the little girl. I bet she would have a career as a model because there is something about her in pictures that is rather magical.

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I'm going to watch some more Olympics and catch up on some work. Until next time friends...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wrapping Up July

I can't believe July is almost over- that means we are only a month and a half away from the Date Auction, only 2 1/2 months to the Anniversary Celebration and a few weeks left to wrap up the calendar, plus we have 4 fashion shows between now and mid-October. So much going on!

So what's the latest? Well, last week we did another donation to Boston PD. We donated over 250 stuffed animals and a 100 books and coloring books/crayons. Here is a really nice photo from our donation that their photographer took. I particularly love the lighting in this photo.
I finished one grant last week- it was a pretty straight forward grant application. This was our first time applying for this grant. The company has expanded recently and we fit in with their funding priorities. I don't know when I will hear back. I have another grant that I need to get done this week.

Things are moving along well with the Date Auction. We have a new sponsor on board who will be doing a partial financial donation and an in-kind donation of gift certificates that we can give to the 'couples' and perhaps use in the silent auction. I've also heard back from another sponsor that was already on board for the Date Auction and they are helping out with some gift certificates too. The marketing is coming together. I need to speak with Lisa about getting some of our ads finalized. We are still waiting for a few more logos from sponsors.

Here's a funny volunteer interaction. I received an email last night from someone who wanted to volunteer, asking me if she should send her resume over. I wrote back to her today and then she responded a few minutes ago saying that she actually wasn't going to have time to volunteer- we hadn't even discussed hours. I'm not sure why people bother to inquire about volunteering and then change their mind less than 24 hours later.

Anyways, back to updates- I did calendar photos with a 1 1/2 year old little girl today. She was so adorable. She was also the best dressed little kid that we've photographed this year. Her mom dressed her in a little sailor dress with matching hat. She looked absolutely lovely. I haven't loaded the photos onto the computer yet, but from looking at them on the camera, they looked cute. It's hard when kids are that age because they don't want to sit still and smile for very long!

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I have a lot of emails that I need to catch up on. Tomorrow, I need to work on the usual things along with wrapping up calendar sponsors and photos, date auction and anniversary celebration work and make some progress on the next grant. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest? Well, I received a $100,000 donation... OK, that didn't happen, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to announce a donation like that! Things are chugging along slowly. The biggest challenge right now is wrapping up calendar sponsors. I have 2 1/2 months that need to be filled. One of our board members will be taking care of one of those months, which is great. There is a potential sponsor who will hopefully be taking another month, but that is not a definite and I need another half sponsor. I also have two sponsors from last year that I've been trying to get commitments from. I've reached out to other potential sponsors, but I don't have any commitments. I'm not sure of who else to contact for sponsorship.

Calendar photos are coming out great. It is always a lot of fun doing the pictures. We have a lot of new children featured in the calendar. I'm doing photos at an ambulance company in Cambridge tomorrow morning. I have about 5 more photo shoots that need to be done. One is already scheduled for early August. I don't have a calendar cover photo yet. Usually, when I take the photos, I know as soon as I look at them on the computer if they are a contender for the cover. There have been a ton of great pictures, but there hasn't been one that has jumped out as an obvious cover choice.

I've been working on getting more auction items. I've been reaching out to some of the ladies from the WSN networking group that I'm a member of. They've been really responsive with donating items for the Anniversary Celebration silent auction, so that's been really good. I keep trying to add new donors as well as contacting the previous donors. Right now, I'm particularly looking for jewelry, outings, tickets to events and restaurant gift certificates- but obviously, all donations are welcome.

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I'm tired and starting to forget. I'm off to watch Leno, write my list and head to bed. I already had a ton of watermelon tonight, so I'm holding off the urge to go and eat some more. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reaching Goals

Well, we hit a good mark today- we have reached our sponsorship goal for the Date Auction and we also reached our goal for ladies to be auctioned off. Of course, I still keep working on obtaining new sponsors and there are some others that I'm waiting to hear back from, but it means that almost all of the cost to produce the event is now covered. That is always a big relief.

I emailed out the date auction recruiting flier to our PS database yesterday. We've had a lot of ladies sign up over the last few days. It is a really nice group of women- very pretty and from a variety of backgrounds. We auction off 20 ladies- some times a bit more, but I always have even more on the list because we always lose a couple before the event. Pretty soon, I will have to start a wait list as well. I always get nervous because for the longest time, I have only a few people signed up, but then the ball gets rolling and before you know it, the list is full. When it comes to getting the guys signed up, it is a different story! It has always been the same way- the ladies sign up months ahead of time, send in all their info and are good to go. A lot of the guys take a really long time to send in their info and it takes a while to even get them signed up. It has always worked out in the past, but I go through the same thing every year. I still get really anxious even though I keep reminding myself that it is always the same way.

We're getting closer to our sponsorship goal for the Anniversary Celebration, but we are still a little short. I reached out to other sponsors today who have been involved in the past and I need to work on reaching out to some more new sponsors. I've been working on auction items too, but definitely need to get more.

Things are moving slower with calendar ads, although I was given two new potential sponsors to reach out to and I contacted two other potential sponsors. The month that I was concerned about on Monday definitely needs a new sponsor- so that leaves 2 1/2 months that need sponsorship. The calendar heads to print in August, so there is not a lot of time left. I really need help with getting these done. I did photos at Upton Fire today of a fire fighter and his ten year old son- they looked so much alike. The boy wants to be a fire fighter just like his dad. I think I got some really good photos. I actually only have a few more departments to photograph, so that is good.

In good news, I found a grant tonight that we can apply for from a local store which our efforts fit perfectly into. I need to get working on that soon. I would love to have more help with all of the things that need to get done, it is so challenging to get to everything.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to write another lengthy list for tomorrow. I don't know what the heck I was doing when I was writing my list last night- I wrote repeated two tasks twice on the list. I guess that is another way to quickly get through a list- write the same task down a few times, so when you did it once, you can check it off multiple times! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Polly Progress

Well, today was a day of progress- a little bit of everything (except grants) got worked on. I had a list of 13 items to work on and I managed to get through 12 of them (the grant was the exception), so that was really good. A lot of days, I get to barely half the items.  The trick to getting through your list is to write super easy tasks (ex. 1. turn on computer, 2. check Facebook, 3. look at email...) Just kidding- those are not really on my list!

One of the main goals today was following up with people- I was following up with date auction sponsors and also people that had signed up to be auctioned off, but hadn't sent in their complete info yet. I was also working on getting more calendar photo shoots scheduled. On the disappointing calendar news, it looks like another month might need an entirely new sponsor. I already knew that I had 1 1/2 months left to fill, but I'm not sure what is happening with this other sponsor- it doesn't look that good. I emailed a new potential calendar sponsor late this afternoon and left a voicemail. I have another potential sponsor I am going to reach out to in the morning. I need help with getting more calendar sponsors on board.

I spoke with one of the date auction bachelors this morning about cross promotion with the radio station that he works with. He was featured in the dating column in the Boston Globe magazine and I had reached out to him on FB to see if he wanted to participate in our event- I had a feeling that he would be a good candidate. It turns out that he also knows one of the other bachelors being auctioned off. It is such a small world! It's only in the early stages for the cross promotion, so I don't have any details yet. The radio station is also involved with NECN- the channel which our hosts work for, so it is a really good tie-in.

I made a lot of progress late last week with one of our big grants. Tomorrow, I will review the grant, make some final updates and then submit it. I also have two other grants that I need to start working on.

There seems to be a lot of turnover lately with some of the people that I work with on events. The lady at Sofft Shoes emailed me this morning to let me know that she is leaving- she has been great to work with. The marketing director at one of the malls that we're having a fashion show fundraiser at soon left her job last week. I spoke with the marketing assistant today to check-in about the event and everything looks good. I emailed her all the photos of the ladies that will be modeling so they can pair them up with the retail stores. It looks like they are going to be having some cool stores involved in the show. The marketing assistant is also going to be one of the bachelorettes that will be in our auction!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to watch Headlines on Leno, eat some more cherries, write another extensive list for tomorrow, read some more of the last Hunger Games and head to bed at a decent hour. Here's hoping for an equally productive day tomorrow. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Happy Surprise

Well, today was a very good day. I finally emailed over the grant that I had been struggling with. Even though it was done on Friday, I still had some revising to do and put the attachments together. I felt invigorated after emailing the grant- it is always such a satisfying feeling when a grant is submitted. I zoomed down to the post office and there was an envelope from the same foundation which donated $10,000 to us in December. I opened it before I even left the post office. Inside was a grant for $5,000! You can only imagine how happy I was. I totally wasn't expecting this donation. When good things happen like this, it makes everything worthwhile. It feels like an angel is sitting on your shoulder, willing you along through the rough times. It has been difficult with getting things together for the calendar, working on the big events, grant writing- none of it comes easy and there are times when it looks like it won't come together. Now it feels like we are turning the corner and things are moving along in the right direction. This grant is another sign of the good things that are happening. To this foundation that has donated $15,000 to us now, thank you. Thank you for believing in our work as much as I do. I spend a lot of my time convincing other people to support our work, so when a Foundation chooses us without my asking- it is so very special.

In other news, our website home page has been retooled and looks great. It had been looking a little messy with all the additions over the years. I had been wanting to make some changes, but was concerned about the cost. Our website is one of the most important things we have, so it is a priority to keep it looking smart. Our web host suggested that we make some changes and the price was rather reasonable. He finished it last week and it looks awesome. You had to scroll down too much before to find out the main info about PS, that problem is gone now. Check it out when you have a chance and let me know what you think!  I also updated all the scrolling quotes from departments that we donate to. Our web designer also added a Press page which lists all the press we received along with the Channel 4 news clip and the radio interview with Candy O'Terry. I love the way everything looks.

 I spent this evening catching up on office work- updating some data base info, cleaning up, catching up on thank you notes. I still have more organizing to do, but progress is getting made. I'm going to do a bit more desk organizing now and then enjoy my day off tomorrow. Happy 4th July friends! Until next time...