Friday, June 29, 2012

Latest and Greatest

Blogging on a Friday night- what gives? I wanted to squeeze in one more blog post before the end of the month! So what's new? Well, in good news, the grant that I've been griping about is almost done. My goal was to get it done by the end of the month and although it isn't entirely done, I feel that I've met my goal. I have to revise it and get all the attachments together- I will do that on Monday. Then, I have to move onto the next grant. There are two grants that I want to get done in July.

Calendar photos are coming along really well. We have a lot of new kids in the calendar and the photos look great. I'm doing photos in Milford tomorrow morning. We are about half way done so far. I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple of sponsors that usually support the calendar and I also have 1 1/2 months that definitely need new sponsors.

Well, I had a lot more that I was going to write about, but my mind is going blank. There are a bunch of people that signed up to participate in the Date Auction, but haven't set in their info- I've been following up with a few this week, but there are others that I still need to reach out to. It gets a little frustrating when people say they are going to participate, but don't send in their info- I don't know if they have changed their mind and then I have to fill their spot with someone new. Sometimes, I don't even know if they are getting my emails.

Well, I'm going to get back to catching up on things. I was writing some thank you notes that needed to be done for the recent donations that have come in the mail- I still have more to do. I also have a bunch of donation related emails that I need to respond to. This is a good evening for catching up on stuff like that. Have a happy weekend friends....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Grant News

Well, good news to report today- we received a $4,000 grant from the Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation. The Foundation has supported us for many years. I was feeling positive about our application, but you can never take anything for granted. It was good timing today, because I have been struggling with a grant that I've been working on- I was sitting at the computer, trying to work on a particularly awkward question when the phone rang- it was the lady from the Foundation. Usually, people only call with good news, so that was already a good sign, but I still held my breath until she said the amount which was approved. What a relief! I wish it could say that it encouraged me with the grant that I was working on, but I'm still struggling with it. The whole thing is a bit of a mess right now. A lot of grants ask similar questions, so I can copy/paste from other grant applications. This grant is no different, but they also ask a couple of questions that are hard to answer.  I've written a lot of grants and never been asked these questions before. My goal was to get this grant done before the end of the month, so I can start working on other grants- that doesn't leave too much time. Our program is pretty simple, so answering questions that are overly complicated can be a struggle some times.

In other good news, we did another donation to DCF on Monday which was great. I don't have a photo from the donation unfortunately- it was pouring rain, so I couldn't do the photo outdoors and parking is illegal in front of the building, so I couldn't leave the car. We've had a lot of book donations recently, so I was able to donate over 60 beautiful books along with the coloring books/big boxes of crayons and stuffed animals.

In special news, a mom named Crystal left the following post on our FB page- it is so touching:

"Thank you Project Smile! When I was 34 weeks pregnant with my 4th baby, I fell into a creek when I tried to retrieve my then 2 1/2 year old son. It was bad fall, and I could not move. The first repsonders came and took me away in the ambulance. My three sobbing kids (6,3,and 2) were left with the firefighers who gave them each a stuffed animal to hold as they followed up to the hospital. Thank you so much for your loving concern for children in need of comfort in fearful times. "

I don't hear a lot of stories directly from families, so this was wonderful to hear. I need to print it out and include it with our grant applications and at our events. It is important to share these stories with our supporters.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to raid the fridge for some fruit- we have raspberries! If I was industrious, I would go back to grant writing, but I don't think I can manage anymore of it today. Until tomorrow friends....

Thursday, June 21, 2012


So what's the latest? Well, we've been chugging along with calendar photos. It was so hot yesterday- 100 degrees, but I managed to get some great photos in our 3 photo shoots. The children were all really cooperative and did an excellent job, even with all the heat. I always forget how much fun it is to do calendar photos until I get started again each year. Right now, I think we are about 1/3 of the way done for photos- maybe less. I have a bunch of new kids featured, so that is great. I did photos today at Auburn PD. They are a fun police department- very enthusiastic and outgoing. There are some departments that I look forward to visiting and that is one of them.

In good news, I got a police officer signed up for the date auction which is great. It actually happened at Auburn- I asked the officers if they knew people at departments in the Boston area, then I explained the date auction and it turned out that one of the officers that I was photographing is single and he volunteered to participate- with a little encouragement from his fellow officers. I think he will do great in the auction. We're still recruiting guys and ladies to participate- so spread the word and help us recruit. Here is the date auction recruiting flier that can be downloaded and shared:
Tomorrow, I'm donating again to Oxford PD. Then I need to work on setting up more photo shoots, sponsors for the anniversary celebration, auction items, calendar sponsors- I still have two months that need sponsors. One of our board members, Michelle, is going to sponsor an additional 1/2 month besides the month she already sponsors which is awesome. I also need to make some serious grant progress. I keep intending to work on the grants this week, but when I've gotten back from doing photos, I'm too tired to focus on grant writing. Photos are great and fun to do, but they require a lot of concentration.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read book 3 in the Hunger Games series and try to not eat anymore of the lemon sorbet that I got today at the grand opening of Price Chopper in Hopkinton. It is so delicious! The store is great too, although it can't beat the prices of my favorite place- Market Basket.  Until next time friends...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Shakings

So what's the latest? Well, today we donated to our 175th department- Blackstone PD. Here is a photo from the donation. The chief had actually seen our clip on Channel 4 news about our donation to the state police. 

Next Monday, I'm doing another donation to DCF, that is one of my favorite donations to do. I wish we could do even more donations there. Friday, we're donating again to Oxford PD. Working with so many departments, it is hard to keep up, but I've been doing my best.

The home page on our website is going to get a bit of a facelift. It hasn't undergone significant changes since it was first done- it is up to date and has had a lot of info added to it, but it needs as my web host/designer calls it, "a spring cleaning". You have to scroll down a lot to get to the main info about PS, so that is going to change. There will be a column on the right with the FB, Twitter, blog icons, calendar info, Virtual Aid Drive info, ticket link, etc. Basically, all the info which is in rows is going to be moved into a neat and clean looking column. I've known it needed to be changed, but was concerned about the cost. Richard, our web host, added the Channel 4 clip to the site and suggested that we make the changes. He gave me a good rate, so I've decided to go for it. The website is such an important part of Project Smile, so it needs to be looking its best.

In other good news, it looks like we have a new sponsor for the date auction. This sponsor reached out to us about participating in another event, but unfortunately, we couldn't have their participation in the other event, so I suggested the Date Auction and they've said they wanted to sponsor- so that is good.

There is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired. Tomorrow is going to be a busy calendar photos day- I have 4 photo shoots scheduled. It is a little much for one day, but some of them were rescheduled because of weather. I did a photo shoot yesterday with a big group of twins- I was there for two hours doing the photos, that was a record! It was a lot of fun, the kids were very cute, but it was also really tiring.

Well, I'm off to eat some more blueberries and yogurt. I really need to get some more watermelon- I'm having withdrawals! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday Happenings

So what's new? Well, my morning photo shoot was rained out and I did not spend that time working on grants as I promised I would last night. I keep getting wrapped up with other tasks and postponing grant work until later in the day, then I plan to work on the grants at night, but that doesn't happen often enough. I need to commit to spending at least 45 minutes a day on grant writing.

I did manage to get my calendar photos at Hopedale FD in tonight. The rain stopped later in the day and it actually started again for a few minutes while I was finishing up photos. I got some great group photos with the fire fighters. One of the guys brought his son who was a cute little 7 year old. I was really happy with how the photos turned out.

Here is a photo from our donation on Monday to Webster PD- it is our 174th department to work with! For some reason, I seem to keep wearing the same dress for almost all my donations recently- it is getting rather funny.
Here is another nice photo that the state police took at our donation yesterday. They posted it on their twitter page.

In good news- we are getting more people signed up for the date auction. We are halfway towards our quota of ladies, we're lagging behind that with recruiting the guys, but that is not something new. We just got another cool guy signed up tonight which was great and another woman earlier today. I was working on getting more gift certificates donated for the 'couples' to use as well as auction items.

I've also been scheduling some more photo shoots. I have a bunch scheduled, but there are still a ton more to do. It can take a while to get them scheduled. I was getting frustrated these last few days dealing with people who don't respond to emails. It gets difficult when you're constantly spending so much time following up with people. I am used to it, but when you're dealing with trying to follow up with so many people, about so many different things and not hearing back- it can get a little maddening. That is when a nice cup of tea comes in- it always seems to work well when it comes to reducing frustration.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to write my lengthy list for tomorrow. I was planning to have some blueberries and yogurt with a peach, but I'm getting a bit of a headache, so I might just go to sleep at a decent hour. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Donation Day

Well, today got off to a bit of a rough start, but ended up on a high note. I was feeling frustrated this morning about not hearing back from people that I've been trying to reach in regards to our calendar and fall events. I kept chugging along, drowning the annoyances in an extra cup of tea and then zoomed off to the Mass State Police HQ for our donation of stuffed animals. The State Police were one of the first departments that we donated to when I first started PS. I hadn't done a donation there in a while though. I contacted the state police a few weeks ago and we set up a donation. I also got to meet the Colonel. She really wanted to be a part of the donation which was really nice. The State Police contacted the local news outlets and Channel 4 showed up which was awesome. We haven't received press for our donations in a while so this awesome. They decorated one of their new vehicles with stuffed animals and I have some awesome photos. Here is one with the Colonel:
And this is my new favorite Project Smile photo. The cameraman from CBS 4 took the photo. I love this photo so much! I made it our new cover photo on our FB page.

We donated 250 stuffed animals. The State Police is a huge department, so this is obviously a small donation compared to the size of the force. I told the sergeant that we want to make our donations a lot more frequently so we can provide stuffed animals for all the road troopers to have for children. We work with so many departments now- 174- it is hard to keep up with the donations.

Here is the link to the Channel 4 news clip about our donation:

So what else is going on? Well, we got some new ladies signed up for the date auction which is great. I need to get a lot more guys signed up, especially fire fighters. One of the bachelors from the Improper Bostonian's Most Eligible Singles issue sent me in his info/photo last night which was great. I also reached out to another radio producer who is interested in participating too.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I have two photo shoots scheduled tomorrow- hopefully, we will get them in despite the rain. I need to get some more grant work done. I've been caught up with all the other things and haven't worked on grants in a few days. If the morning's photo shoot doesn't happen, I will spend that time grant writing. I have some more calendar ads which need to get taken care (translation: sold) and I need to keep working on scheduling more photo shoots.

I'm off to eat watermelon and start the 3rd book in the Hunger Games series. I finished the second book last night. I'm loving the series. I never would have picked it up if my sister hadn't given them to me and told me to read them- so glad that she did. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

First Photos

Tonight, I did our first photos for our 2013 PS calendar. I always forget how much fun it is to do the photos until I start. I was doing photos at Douglas Fire, I've started with them a few times before. They are always a fun department to photo. They get a good group to participate and everyone is really enthusiastic. Their Association also supports the calendar by sponsoring it. I like seeing the kids who have been in it a few times as they get older. There was a baby in the photos who was only 3 weeks old. He was so tiny, it was amazing. I photographed him with his mom and older brother. I think his eyes were closed in all the photos, but they still came out well. You can't expect much from some one that young- mostly, as long as they're not crying, we are fine. It is something to think that we were all once that size.

We're moving along with signing up people to participate in the auction. I always get more ladies to sign up first. I've submitted some photos to our web host, so we should have them on our website soon. Our flier got updated and now features a QR code- those are those little square bar codes that you can scan with your smart phone and it will take you directly to the relative website. They are free to create and very easy. My mom was actually the first person to tell me about them ages ago- before you started seeing them everywhere. I downloaded the program to her phone last week, then I downloaded it to my own phone and then it dawned on me that we should have the code on our event flier. I sent the link to create the code to Lisa and she added it to the flier. She had to work on it twice because the first version was not clear enough and wouldn't scan. The new version works perfectly. It is so important to keep up with technology and communication tools. QR codes are relatively easy and free, so there really is no reason not to use them.

Well, that's the latest for tonight- I have about a million and a half things to do tomorrow (OK, I exaggerate- slightly). I had a personal appointment this morning and that took up a big chunk of time, I was planning to get work done tonight, but I settled down in my bed to watch the Thunder game for a little bit and fell asleep for over 2 hours! Sports are so inspiring- nothing is ever over until it is officially over. You can be down and everyone counts you out, but people keep going, keep playing hard and they can pull out the win. I've been inspired watching the Celtics in the play-offs and I've been enjoying following the Thunder as well. They were both down 0-2 in the finals and the Thunder just won the Western Conference title, hopefully, the Celtics will pull out the win tomorrow night too.

I'm now off to eat a peach and maybe some more watermelon- they are both so delicious. I don't need to write a new list, I just need to add onto yesterday's list. We have a fun shoe club party tomorrow night at Pandora which I'm looking forward to. A portion of the sales will be going to Project Smile. They have also donated items for our silent auction and I think they will be able to donate an item for our events this year too. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rejection as a Motivator

So here we are- first full week of June. On Saturday, I found out that we did not get the $5,000 grant that I was hoping for. I knew as soon as I saw the envelope that it wasn't good news. When we received their last grant in 2008, they called with the happy news. It was disappointing of course, but one can't dwell on rejection. I was upset for a few minutes, but when I get bad news it is a big motivator to get back to work and be successful. Rejection can some times be a bigger motivator than success. Some times when things are going well, it can make you ease up a little and not work quite as hard, but when things are not going well or you get rejected it pushes you and increases that desire to win. We will succeed regardless of the people that choose not to support our work. Obviously, when we don't get funding from a particular source, the need is even greater to get that financial support from somewhere else. That rejection letter was so motivating on Saturday, that even though I was busy getting ready for a party, I spent some time online researching new grants that we could apply for. I deal with rejection daily in regards to fundraising and it has always been a motivator. That doesn't mean that it isn't frustrating and disappointing as well, but it means that my reaction is not to lose my motivation or wallow, but to work harder and achieve more- it brings out the fighter.

So needless to say, there was actual grant work getting done today. There are a bunch of grants that I need to work on, but I started with one that we last applied for in 2006 and did not receive funding. We fit well into their funding priorities and our program has expanded greatly since then, so I think it makes sense to reapply. Most of the grant is not that complicated, but there are some detailed financial questions that are rather time consuming.

In other news, we signed up another date auction bachelorette which is great. One of my other goals this week to recruit more bachelors/ettes. I also need to get more sponsors for both our big events. Tomorrow, I'm doing a donation to our 174th department- Millville PD. It is a small department rather close to us. It always feels great to reach a new department. I also need to buy some more coloring books- after this donation, our supply will be totally out. I was going to run to Family Dollar today to buy some, but I had so many other things to work on.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat watermelon and a juicy peach and write my list for tomorrow. Until tomorrow friends...