Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: Year in Review

Greetings friend and happy almost new year! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Christmas. I had a great time- it is one of my favorite times of the year. I can't believe I haven't blogged in almost 2 weeks- yikes! I've been working on wrapping things up for the end of the year and I've been taking a few days off to enjoy Christmas and relax with family.

The year wouldn't be complete without our own year in review- it seems like everyone does them, so here goes ours!
Highlights:
- Reaching 189 departments that we've donated to is a big highlight- our goal is to get to 200 departments this year.
- Our donation on December 18 to the children at the Boston Public Health Commission's Entre Familia homeless shelter. Thanks to donors, we were able to do some great gifts for the 20 children. The kids were so happy and the moms were very appreciative. Here are photos of two of the little girls with their new Barbie dolls. I posted a lot more photos on our FB page. 
I particularly love this donation because I was able to meet the kids. Our efforts help thousands of children annually, but this is the only time that I get to meet the children who receive our items.
- Our partnership with the Dept. of Children and Families is another highlight. I joined the Worcester regional advisory council this year and I'm really looking forward to being able to expand our partnership with DCF. We did an extra donation to the Worcester office right before Christmas because we had a bunch of gifts left over. They were very happy to get them because they had a great need for gifts for the children they work with.
- Our 7th Annual Date Auction was another big highlight- the event keeps getting better and better each year. The anxiety never decreases, but that's just the way it goes. The new venue worked out perfectly and our hosts were amazing. Thank you again to everyone who made the event such a success. We couldn't have done it without you.
 -  Our 10th Anniversary Celebration was another awesome event- it was a milestone for us and it went great.  We worked so hard on getting lots of great auction items and sponsors and it is always a relief when it goes well!
- Our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser at Copley Place and The Show- our fall fashion show during Boston Fashion Week were two awesome events. They are small fundraisers, but they are also great exposure for Project Smile. The Show was our first full scale fashion show on our own.
- Our partnership with Pandora at Legacy Place and their choosing me to represent the launch of their new Essence Collection. They donated almost $600 to us from the November sales of the new charms. They also donated during our summer event at their store and they donated a bracelet for our Anniversary Celebration. The store has been supporting us for a number of years.

There are lots of other good things that happened this year. We keep expanding and I hope that 2014 brings lots more growth- both with fundraising and our program work. Thank you to everyone who helped make 2013 a success. I am so grateful for your support and I never take it for granted. I hope that 2014 also brings lots of happiness and good things to you as well.
I'm now off to eat my grapefruit (some things will never change!). Until next time friends....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Latest and Greatest Snow Edition

Happy snow friends! It is another winter wonderland happening today. So what's new? Well, tomorrow is the children's Christmas party at the Entre Familia homeless shelter at the Boston Public Health Commission in Mattapan. A local company, Shepherd & Goldstein, reached out to us last week and made a $250 donation and offered to help with any upcoming projects- so I told them that we needed help in wrapping the gifts for the party. They purchased the paper and gift bags and I went to their office on Monday. It was so much fun sorting the gifts and matching them up to the 20 children that will be getting them. We got a nice assortment of items for the kids. The employees did an awesome job with helping sort them gifts and wrapping them up. The bags look so pretty. It was great to have their help. I hope this is something we can do every year. Here is a photo from our wrapping party.
We have a few extra gifts left over and some Build-a-Bear teddy bears, so I reached out to the Worcester DCF office to see if they needed any additional Christmas gifts for children. David, at DCF, emailed me back immediately and said there was a great need for items. I'm going to drop off at least 2 boxes of gifts this week for Worcester kids. I wish we had more resources to provide more gifts for children. It is so sad to think that there will be children who won't have any Christmas gifts.

Well, I'm off to catch up on a few emails- I'm trying to wrap up lots of little things before the end of the year and I'm furiously trying to clean up my office- a never ending project! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Days

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, today I dropped off a box filled with books, coloring books and crayons to the Fitchburg Police department. Their Domestic Violence Advocate called me recently and asked if we could drop off more items for children, so I was happy to drop them off. They still had a supply of stuffed animals. After Fitchburg, I zoomed over to Medfield to pick a bunch of toys that one of our families who have been awesome supporters, bought for us. The toys will be given to the children at the Entre Familia homeless shelter holiday party next week. Donna, the mom, who has been an awesome supporter, did an amazing job with buying a lot of toys and art supplies for the kids. Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to stop at Walmart and buy some remaining items for the children- mostly ones for the newborns and children that are under 3 years old. Between my friend Jen helping buy items, our board member Michelle purchasing a bunch and today's donation and the items that I've been collecting over the year, we have a great amount- more than 100% of what we did last year. I am so excited for the children's holiday party- it is going to be a great time for them. I can't wait to see how happy they will be when they open their gifts.

Tomorrow morning, we're doing another donation to Boston PD. I also need to set up our next donation to DCF- we always do a donation before Christmas. In other good news- we received a $3,500 grant from the Brown Foundation. They've been supporting us for approximately 5 years and this year, they even donated more that what we asked for- a very nice surprise indeed!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some more leftover lemon meringue pie- one of my favorite foods and put the box of books/coloring books together for our donation to Boston PD tomorrow. I need to be out early, so I don't want to have to spend time getting it ready in the morning. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, we are wrapping up the year on a good note. We  had a great board meeting tonight, going over all the major events and updates of the year and goals for next year. We also welcomed a new board member, Kelli. She has been to a lot of our events over the years and has been a great supporter, so I'm really happy that she decided to join our board.  Michelle, one of our other board members, purchased a bunch of toys for the children's homeless shelter Christmas party next week. One of my friends also donated a number of toys and we have another volunteer who is donating toys too. I will go shopping to fill in the additional items that are needed for the kids. I'm so happy that people have helped with getting items for the party.

The non profit organization in Oregon that asked for stuffed animals for their prison parenting program sent us a nice thank you letter. We sent two boxes of stuffed animals to them. Our board was talking about looking into if there were prison parenting programs in Massachusetts where we could donate stuffed animals for the children.

In other news, calendar sales are moving along. We received a $250 donation from one of the police associations whose officer is in the calendar with his children. They usually make an annual donation to us. I'll drop off 25 calendars with them this week. Kelly, another of our board members, has collected 10 orders for calendars, so that is good. We have another approximately 50 calendars left to sell which isn't too bad.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and start a new book that my sister recommended- Life After Life. Hopefully, it is good! Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, today I was working on scheduling some more donations. I was also working on getting some items together for the children's holiday party. Michelle, one of our board members, volunteered to help with getting some items and to help distribute the gifts at the party. She suggested that I reach out to the shelter to see if we can get some more info on what items the children would like. We're focusing mostly on toys, but if possible, it would be great to have some guidance on what toys the kids like. Obviously, we don't have the resources for any high end electronics, but it would be nice to match the gifts for what the kids are into. I'm going to email my contact at the shelter tomorrow.

I think that we might not be receiving a grant from one of the foundations that usually donates to us. We applied for a grant in October and they typically have a grant awards dinner in early December which they invite the recipients to attend. The event usually happens on the same day as the monthly women's networking dinner that I attend, so I thought of it last night- we didn't get an invitation to the dinner. That is not a good sign. They've been supporting us for the past 5 years, so I don't know why they wouldn't support us again. I hope that maybe it was an oversight and we are on the list. It is so important to have ongoing annual support- that's how you keep building.

I'm moving along with calendar sales. We are making progress, so that is good. We should be getting some donation checks from police/fire associations who usually buy a bunch to give out to their members. I'm going to keep following up with police/fire associations and with the families whose children are in the calendar.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat a grapefruit and read for a bit. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcome December

Welcome December! Thanksgiving is over and the year is almost done- how fast it always goes by. I guess that is a sign of good times. So what's new? Well, we are donating again for the children's holiday party at the Entre Familia homeless shelter which is run by the Boston Public Health Commission. The party is on December 18. They sent the list of children and their ages over, so we can work on getting appropriate gifts. Most of the children are quite young, including a couple of infants. Our donation last year was very touching last year. It was one of the first times that I got interact directly with the children that receive our items. I didn't realize that we were going to be the sole provider of the holiday gifts last year. I've been putting items aside all year for this party, so we have some items already- I have some action figures, toy cars and Build-a-Bears that have beautiful outfits. I also have some large boxes of crayons and some particularly nice books that would be great gifts. I'm going to buy some more toys. I'll also put the word out on our FB page and ask people if they would like to help- hopefully, we can get a few more items donated. I was reading an article in the Boston Globe today about the record number of homeless families- there are 4,100 homeless families in MA. Half of them are being housed in motels. It is so sad to know that there are so many families that are struggling. I wish we had more resources so that we could help even more.

In other news- a bugger somewhere stole my AmEx business card number, made a fake card and used it in Canada to make purchases at a liquor store, fast food chain and then attempted to buy over $100 worth of items at Toys R Us. I received a call and email from AmEx fraud department on Saturday evening to verify the purchases. I thought they were calling to verify an online purchase I made the night before, so I was shocked to hear about the Canadian charges. AmEx removed the fraudulent charges and my new card should be arriving tomorrow. I had no idea how the number was stolen. I know it happens all the time and there are lots of ways it can be stolen. It is really crappy how people make money by stealing like that. Not only is it simply wrong, but it can create such difficulties for people and businesses. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again. I'm pretty careful where I use my card- it's usually at the same places, so I don't know what happened.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit. My library book is due in 2 days, so I want to finish it- I can't renew it again. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our Loss

Today was a very sad day friends. Our family dog, Humphrey, died today. My heart hurts and we are all so sad at home. He was just a little puppy when we got him in 2002 and he gave us so much love and we loved him. It is so hard to comprehend that we won't see him anymore. I know this blog is about Project Smile and this has nothing to do with work, but it is all I can think about. His death was very sudden and it is a reminder how short and precious life is- one moment everything is fine and then in the next moment you can lose what you love so dearly. Humphrey took ill on Friday, we brought him to the vet on Saturday and then yesterday he got dramatically worse. This afternoon, we had to put him down. Thankfully, my siblings were all able to come home yesterday and they got to spend time with  him and say goodbye. I'm trying to hold on to all the happy memories that we had with him and I'm glad that he had a happy life with us. He gave us so much over these almost 11 years- it was all you could have ever asked for. So friends- never take anything for granted and be sure to tell those you love just how much you care for them.
Rest in peace our beautiful Humphrey Pisacane. You gentle and loving soul is missed so much.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Donation Day

Greetings friends! So what's new? Today, I dropped off over 200 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Morgan Memorial Goodwill for their annual children's holiday party. We've been partnering with them and donating items for the past few years. We don't have a Christmas event of our own, so I'm happy that we can make the extra donation and help with their party. They do a lot of great work in the community to help those in need. Their party makes me miss the Halloween/Child Safety event that we did in Worcester from 2004-2008. It was an awesome event that was attended by over 700 people annually. It was low cost and gave families the opportunity to do a fun and affordable activity that was also educational. I wish we could do the event again, but it is too much work for me to do on my own and our fall is already really busy with the Date Auction, fall fashion show and Anniversary Celebration. Affordable and fun community events are so important, especially in economically depressed areas. If we had more resources, I would love to do more events like that. Here is a photo from today's donation.
It looks like we will be donating again for the Boston Public Health Commission's family shelter holiday party. I emailed my contact to check in with him and he is going to get back to me next week to talk about a date for the event. I'm really happy to help with that event. It was so touching last year and we can definitely do more this year for the children.

Tomorrow, I'm focusing on calendar sales and following up with more departments for stuffed animal donations. I also need to make some more progress in cleaning up my office- it has been getting a lot better now that auction items have cleared out and events are done, but it still needs attention. On that note, I'm off to read for a bit, write a few more thank-you notes for donations that came in recently and eat my grapefruit. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, I was away for a few days vacation which was great. I don't get to go away very often and this was a surprise trip. It was fun to get away and visit a new place. It really is important to have a change of scenery. It makes you feel refreshed.

Today, I was trying to catch up on things and get moving with calendar sales. In good news, we're collecting a total of $500 from 2 area police associations. They are associations that typically donate to us and we give them a bunch of calendars to distribute to the members. I need to follow up with other associations that typically donate to us.

It was really nice that a lady sent us 4 boxes of coloring books, books and crayons today. She sent a box a couple of weeks ago after finding us on VolunteerMatch.org and wrote that she would be sending more. Her donation came at the perfect time because I needed to purchase additional coloring books for our donation on Thursday to Morgan Memorial Goodwill for their annual children's holiday party. Now, I don't have to buy additional coloring books thanks to her donation. She was very generous and sent a lovely selection of items. It is really amazing how people send us stuffed animals and other items from all over the country.

I received a letter today from a non profit in Oregon that works with prisoners to help them with parenting skills. They have a program where the inmates have to care for a stuffed animal as if it were a child for a number of weeks, then, as a culmination of their parenting classes, they gift the stuffed animal to their child. The stuffed animal not only represents the skills the parent has worked on, but is also meant as a comfort item for the child since they are not able to be with them at home. The organization asked for our help in sending stuffed animals for the program. It is different from any donation that we've done before, but I think it is worthwhile, so I called the contact and told her that we'd be able to send a couple of boxes. It must be a very difficult situation for a child to have his/her parent incarcerated and if this program is able to help the parents improve their parenting skills for when they are released and have a better home life for everyone, then we're happy to help.  I'll keep you posted on any updates that I get.

 I have a Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club party tomorrow at the Newbury Street jewelry store Sikara which I'm looking forward to. They're donating 10% of proceeds from sales during the event, so we'll be able to raise a few dollars as well.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to watch Jay Leno, eat my grapefruit and read for a bit. Until tomorrow friends..

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, I still haven't wrapped everything up from our big event. I'm still working on getting a few more auction items to people. I was able to get most of them finished today. It's funny how I actually miss working on our events. I'm always relieved when they are over and they've been successful, but then I start to miss it event. I've been working on events since January, so there definitely is something missing to not have an event to work on or think about. On the flip side, it is nice to have the extra time to put back to program work and other things that need to get done, particularly calendar sales. I need to get focused on that. We only have a limited amount of time to sell calendars. The year will be over before you know it and then we will be back to the drawing board for the next events.

Next week, we will be doing our annual donation to Morgan Memorial Goodwill for their annual children's holiday party in December. We've been donating stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to them for the past few years. It is one of my favorite donations. I also want to follow up with the Boston Public Health Commission to see if we can provide items again for their shelter's children's party. That was a very touching donation that I got to do last year and I would love to help out again.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit- until next time friends...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Event Success!

Well friends, I am happy say that our 10th Anniversary Celebration was a success! We raised $12,000 for Project Smile and had an awesome time! Our attendance was good, our guest speaker Susan Wornick did an awesome job. She was very funny with the stories she told. Our host, Dick Ferrucci, did a great job as usual. Miss Massachusetts and my friend Olga who is Ms. Massachusetts Globe attended the event and did a lovely job greeting guests and helping showcase the live auction items. I'm so happy that the event went well. Thank you so much to everyone who attended, sponsored, volunteered and donated. I couldn't have done it without everyone's support. While I like all the events that we do, I'm particularly fond of this one because it is an opportunity to talk to our friends and supporters and personally thank them for their support. After all the work on getting auction items, it is also fun to see who buys which items and also see what the most popular items are.

On Saturday, I zoomed over to Boston to do two silent auctions at Wine Fest which is organized by Boston Event Guide. They're really supportive of us and we've been doing silent auctions at their events for the past few years. They've always worked out well. These auctions did great. We raised $1,500 which is awesome for a few hours worth of work. People were really engaging in bidding wars for some of the pictures. It was great timing because the Red Sox parade was earlier in the day, so people were already in the mood for Red Sox memorabilia and we had an amazing autographed Jonny Gomes picture which was a copy of his Sports Illustrated cover.

It is so important not to be lazy- I was exhausted on Saturday and really did not want to do the auction at Wine Fest. Even while I was driving in, I kept wishing that I didn't have to go. I just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep. However, I knew it was a good opportunity and besides the fact that it would be rude not to show up- I couldn't miss out on raising money. We usually raise about $1,000 during the two auctions, so I was really happy that we raised an additional $500.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and catch up on some emails. I also want to spend at least few minutes reading this awesome book, "Night Film" that my sister recommended. Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Night Before

Well friends, here we are yet again- the night before our big event. This is a little different though- milestones like this don't come around all the time. It's funny how these feelings never get old- I feel the same nerves every time an event comes around- it doesn't matter if it is our first event or the 10th. I walk through the event countless times in my head to make sure that everything is accounted for and I fret like nobody's business about getting a good attendance.

There isn't much else left to do for tomorrow- bid sheets are done, another beautiful cake from Konditor Meister was picked up today and all the incidentals that go along with the event are packed and ready to be loaded in the car. I still need to work on my speech for tomorrow- I have so much that I want to say, but most of all I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who stood by us and supported our work through all these years. Without their support, our work couldn't go on.

I wish I had more exciting news to write about tonight- I can't think of anything else but our event tomorrow. I hope that everything goes smoothly. I feel like I've prepared everything that I can and now I just hope that people show up and everything goes as it should. Please wish us all the best for tomorrow! On that note, I am off to work on my speech and choose my dress for tomorrow night. Until next time friends... and if you're looking for something fun to do tomorrow night and want to show your support, then come and join the celebration: 6:30pm, Doubletree Hotel, Milford!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Polly Productive

Two more days friends! I can't believe our 10th Anniversary is right around the corner. I am nervous and excited. I was the picture of productivity today- I wish every day could be this productive. I woke up super early to do a radio interview on WMRC 1490. Those who know me are aware that I am not a morning person, but I managed to actually wake up before my alarm clock and was a coherent person on the radio! The interview went great. I love talking about Project Smile- I could do that for hours. I also particularly love the radio. It is a wonderful medium and I feel totally comfortable when I'm talking on the radio. I've done quite a few radio interviews over the years and I've loved every one of them. I also like radio people- they are usually very relaxed, fast on their feet and fun to talk to.

I did a walk-thru at the Doubletree Hotel this afternoon. Originally, I wasn't going to do a walk-thru, since nothing much had changed for the layout since last year. However, we ended up having a  couple of additions and I felt like it was good to meet with the hotel events manager to make sure that we had everything worked out. Regardless of whether there are only small changes to an event, it is still important to meet and go over the details. We have a jewelry designer who is going to be showcasing her designs and we also have a new dessert vendor, so we had to make sure that we had enough table space for them.

I was also working on finishing up the bid sheets, getting auction items together, writing up the event timeline and speaker intro for our host to use and doing all the other million small tasks that need to be done before an event. I was also checking the credit card machine and making sure that was working properly. I also did a calendar photo montage to play during the event- that is always a popular part. I also had a small poster made at Staples to highlight our appearance in Glamour magazine last year. I had wanted to create a poster, but then I held off because I didn't want to spend extra money. However, at the last minute, I decided that we should have it. It won't cost that much to get made and it was a huge highlight for us. I've also been working on reaching out to people in order to get a good attendance- that is always such a nerve wracking part.

Tomorrow, I'm heading up to Braintree to pick up our cake.  Then I'm coming back to work on my speech, chase down some more last minute potential guests and get everything else wrapped up. Please keep your fingers crossed for having a good attendance. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Countdown to the Big Night

Greetings friends! Well, I have been really slacking with my blogging lately. I've been busy with getting ready for the Anniversary event and last week I had a cold and got delayed on everything- but that is still not a good reason not to blog. So what's new? Well, we are only 4 days away until our milestone 10th Anniversary Celebration. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be celebrating 10 years and I'm not sure that I even fully appreciate what it means. I vividly remember the first time that we had an Anniversary Celebration- it was a party at our home office and it was our 3rd anniversary. We raised only about $750 in profit, but it was a lovely night. Recently, we've raised 9-11K in profit- quite a difference! I've been thinking about the people who've been to our events since the very beginning and how much their support meant. If I could have known then what the future would bring- I don't think I would have believed it. Even with the struggles and frustrations, the never-ending pursuit of more money in order to keep everything going and the other difficulties- it has still been a dream. I am grateful that I can appreciate just how wonderful these years have been.

Anyways, enough of the dream and back to the tasks that need to get done for Friday. I am almost done with the massive amount of bid sheets for the silent auction. However, each time I think I'm getting close to the end, I realize that there are a bunch more that need to be done. We're doing two silent auctions at Wine Fest on Saturday, so I need to get all of those bid sheets done as well. I have to do the sports memorabilia bid sheets, then we will be done with auction sheets. I want to get them done by tomorrow morning, so I don't need to think about bid sheets anymore. I get rather obsessed with getting things done in advance. One never knows when things pop up at the last minute, so I like to have things done in case there is an emergency or something else that gets in the way. A few years ago, my mom fell and broke her foot two days before our Anniversary Celebration. Thankfully, I was all done with the bid sheets and major preparation, so I could help mom and not fall behind on event preparation.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Boston to pick up a beer donation from Sam Adams. I'm waiting for two more auction items that are supposed to be arriving. One of the items is a really big one- I've been following up with the donor, but haven't had any response, so I'm not sure what is happening. I'm keeping my fingers and toes and elbows crossed that the item actually does arrive. I also have to pick up an item on Friday morning in Framingham- I can't pick it up any earlier. That is OK though- I don't have to be at the hotel to set-up until 2pm.

I also need to keep following up with people to get a good attendance. We can have all the best auction items in the world, but if we don't have a decent amount of guests who will bid, then it will all be for nothing. I have nightmares about having an event with 10 people showing up in the massive ballroom- yikes!

On that note- I'm off to eat a grapefruit and finish my bid sheets. Until tomorrow friends.... 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Anniversary Count Down!

Yikes- I haven't blogged in ten days! Well, I wish that I could say that I've been on a fabulous all-expenses paid vacation, but that has not been happening. I've been gearing up for our 10th Anniversary Celebration which is only 2 weeks and one day. I can't believe it is so close. It is our last big event of the year and needs to be successful. I've been working on chasing down last minute auction items. Unfortunately, one restaurant that had promised a dinner gift certificate said that they are dealing with a financial hardship and won't be able to donate. I've been promoting the auction item on our event invitation, so it is a shame that they aren't able to help. We won't be able to auction off one of our big items- for the past few years, we've auctioned off a TV Diner "Diner for a Day" certificate- they donated again this year, but sadly the show has been pulled from the air recently.

My major focus leading up to our big event is getting people to attend. I'm in the process of following up with everyone that I sent invitations to and asking people to spread the word and bring their friends to the event. I also decided to advertise again on WhoFish. We advertised with them last year- I'm not sure how effective it was, but the cost is reasonable, so I think it is worth trying again. I've also been reaching out to other Meet Up groups to see if they would like to invite their members to attend. I want to cover all my bases. We don't have a lot of time left, so it is really important to do everything I can to get a good attendance. We have so many awesome auction items, we need a good crowd to bid on them!

Walter, our awesome photographer who donates all his time to help photograph our events, sent over the photos from our Smiling Stiletto fashion show fundraiser during Boston Fashion Week. The event raised $2,500 for PS and went great. Here are two photos from the event. You can check out all the others on our Smiling Stiletto FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.520030188088995.1073741836.113932798698738&type=1&l=ebda927e53

 Well, I need to catch up on a few more emails, eat an apple and head to bed- I'm suppressing the desire to eat some delicious cheese with that apple.. Until next time friends...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Latest and Greatest!

Ah, it is already a week into October and I hadn't blogged yet this month! So what's new? Well, it is lots of busy days over here. Our fashion show fundraiser was last Thursday and it went great. It is our first time doing a full scale fashion show by ourselves and it worked out really well. We got a lot of positive feedback about the event. Danielle Vollmar from Channel 5 News hosted and she did a great job. The event was sponsored by Celebrity Cruises and Creative Wedding Solutions which was our event planner. We had lots of delicious food vendors- Sabine's Cuisine, Finale, Pretzel Crisps, Loves Cakes & Pastries and Tia's Baked and Unbaked Desserts. Guests also received a complimentary cocktail courtesy of Triple Eight Vodka. We had the event at the new Harborside Inn which was a great venue. I will have photos soon. It was a really fun night and I'm relieved that everything went well. We raised $2,500 for Project Smile which was excellent.

Last week, I donated almost 200 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the Dept. of Children and Families for National Adoption Day which will be happening in courthouses across the state on November 22. 177 children are going to have their adoptions finalized. DCF puts together little care packets for the children to receive on that special day and they were in need of items, so we were happy to help. Here is a photo from the donation. We included a lot of the beautiful Build-a-Bears that the company donated to us this summer.
 DCF asked if we could help with donating items for one of their children's rooms at the Springfield office. They are looking for books, coloring books/crayons and art supplies among other items. I'm putting together items that we can provide for them. I offered stuffed animals as well and they are happy to have them. I'm planning to drop them off in Boston this week.

In other news, I'm working feverishly on our 10th Anniversary Celebration- this is our last big event of the year and it needs to be great (translation- it needs to raise a lot of money!). Last week, the paper invitations went out along with the first email blast. There will be an email blast each week about the event. I'm also promoting it on the Meet Up groups that I organize. I also need to keep reaching out to people and ask them to bring their friends to the event. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get people to attend. I also am following up to get some additional auction items. Tomorrow, I need to follow up with sponsors and get all of their ads for the program and website.

Our awesome photographer Walter Smith sent me a disc of photos from the Date Auction, there are some excellent photos in there, so please check them out-

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151852674214536.1073741830.50833009535&type=1&l=ce7575cf82

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to do some organizing, send even more emails and watch the Jets hopefully win! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Date Auction Success!

Well friends- we did it! The Date Auction was a huge success! We raised $21,000 and had approximately 450 guests attending. It was our first time having it at Venu and it was a great space for our event. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am that everything went well. It is such a relief. I reminded myself to take a few minutes during the event and slow down and take it all in. I looked out at the crowd of people and I wanted to cry. It was such a lovely sight. We've come so far and work so hard, it is a feeling that is almost indescribable when it all comes together. It a mixture of happiness, pride, disbelief, relief and joy. Our hosts did an amazing job. They worked so well together and managed to keep a high energy level going throughout the event which is no easy task since it is a long auction. They both said they wanted to host again, which is great. I'd love to have them back. Our bachelors/ettes did a wonderful job as well, it was a really good group of participants. Our volunteers and staffers from KF& T did an excellent job as well. They helped make everything run smoothly and I am so grateful. Thank you to our sponsors as well- they are so important to our event.

I posted the first load of photos on our website from photographer Paul Robinson. Here is the link:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151832518694536.1073741826.50833009535&type=1&l=4039dc9682

Well, now that the Date Auction is over, it is full force on our next big event- the 10th Anniversary Celebration on November 1. We also have a fashion show fundraiser next Thursday. I need to go and do a final proof of the 2014 calendar so we can get that off to the printer. On that note, I'm going to catch up on some emails. Thank you for all the good wishes for the Date Auction. I am so grateful for everyone's support and for everyone who was a part of our event- from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making it a success. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Night Before

Well, here we are friends- the night before another Date Auction. I have enough butterflies churning to start my own butterfly exhibit. We've been here six times before, but the feelings never get old. It's a combination of excitement and nerves. The good thing is that no matter what happens tomorrow, I know that I've put everything I have into this event and I'm proud of the effort. I can't think of anything else that needs to be done to prepare for tomorrow night and hopefully everything goes smoothly. We've done awesome marketing and I'm so appreciative of everyone who helped promote the event. We have things that we've never had before- including a photo booth from Boston Mojo and our own step & repeat that was generously donated by Anchor & Star, a local printing/design company. Some of our participants have sent in the song that they are going to come onstage to which is really fun. Our DJ has been great in getting the music organized that they want to play. We have two newspapers that are coming to photograph the event which is terrific.

I did a radio interview on the Michael Graham show which airs on BostonHeraldRadio.com and 6 AM stations. The show's producer, Adam, is one of our bachelors participating, so he invited me to call in to the show to talk about the event. I love doing radio interviews- they are always so much fun. Radio personalities are also really good with interviewing people. It was a little over 5 minutes which was good. I'm going to see if Adam can send me the clip so we can put it on our website.

 So wish me luck tomorrow please! There is a lot of pressure to have a successful event, obviously for financial reasons and to keep generating good buzz. I also have to justify the enormous amount of time that goes into this event- it is time that wasn't spent on other things. Things are looking good for tomorrow- we are in an excellent place for advanced ticket sales. We only had one person drop out since the programs were printed. So, lets keep our fingers crossed that we have a wonderful night tomorrow! Until next time friends... hopefully, next time I will be telling you about a great night and successful event!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Love Story

Well friends, I am happy to report that we have another Date Auction love story! A couple met in our 5th Annual Date Auction in 2011 and married this summer! LeWuan was one of three Coast Guard members that we auctioned off that year. Maryellen was a guest and she was actually outbid for a date with LeWuan. Despite that, they got together and it was happily ever after! I found out from a girl who is also in the Coast Guard who signed up to particpate in this year's Date Auction. We were emailing back and forth and she told me that she went our event in 2011 to support her Coast Guard friends that were in the auction. She also told me that LeWuan married the woman he met at the event. I emailed LeWuan to confirm and ask if he could send a photo over that we could share. I didn't hear anything for a few weeks and had actually forgotten about it, but LeWuan emailed me today to confirm that they met at our event and he sent me a photo of them both. Here it is ladies and gentlemen... our second Date Auction marriage!
I'm so happy that our event was able to bring them together. It is really something that we've had 2 marriages from our event. It helps give another meaning to the name Project Smile! I emailed our hosts to let them know and I also emailed Karson and Kennedy who hosted the event that year to let them know that one of the couples got married. I thought they would like to know as well. I submitted it to our web host, so it should be on our website tomorrow.

In other news, I picked up our Date Auction programs today. They look great. Tomorrow, I am picking up our Step & Repeat that was donated to us. I can't wait to see it. Step and Repeats are the back drops that people take photos of in front of events. This will be our first time having one that is just for Project Smile. I have one that Smiling Stiletto and Project Smile on it. I'm going to set it up and take photos in front of it tomorrow!

Well, I'm off to finish this grant that I've been making excellent progress on. I also need to send Lisa the updates for our 10th Anniversary invitation, but I'm getting tired so that might have to wait until tomorrow morning. Until tomorrow friends... please keep wishing me happy ticket sales!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Home Stretch

Well friends, here we are- we've hit the home stretch. We just have 4 days to go until our biggest fundraiser! I am full of butterflies. It doesn't seem quite real that it is actually here. All this work, all the stress, everything that needs to come together and it will all come down to 3 hours on a Friday night. It is amazing how you work so hard for what will be just a brief moment in time. That's what Olympic athletes do all the time. Almost a lifetime of work comes down to a few minutes performance. Not that I'm comparing myself to an Olympic athlete! 

We are in good shape for Friday. Our second email blast to everyone who opened last week's email from Boston Event Guide is going out tomorrow morning. One of our bachelors who works for talk radio invited me to call-in to the station on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the event. I love speaking on the radio. Melissa from 96.9 said she would talk about it on-air during the week as well, which is great. I sent another email blast to our PS base on Friday and I'll send another on Wednesday morning. The good thing is that I'm doing everything possible with our marketing- it has even increased from last year.

Tomorrow, I'm heading over to Staples in Watertown to pick up our event programs- then I can hopefully stop dreaming about having a Date Auction without any programs. It is a bit of a drive to that Staples, but I know the manager from when she worked in our local store. She is really nice, gives a good deal on our jobs and things get done properly. I stopped going to my local Staples for big printing jobs because I had some bad experiences in their print department.

Well, I'm off to work on a grant that I want to get done this week. I also need to do a final proof of our PS calendar this week and I need to send updates to Lisa so she can get the print version of our 10th Anniversary paper invitation done. It's a busy week! Until tomorrow... please keep wishing me happy ticket sales! 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Week and a Day

Well, guess who is feverishly counting down until Sept. 20 (aka Date Auction night)? Me! Guess who is also feverishly checking ticket sales and comparing them to where we were at the same point last year? Me! In good news, we are still on track for ticket sales compared to last year. That is always a relief. I emailed all of our bachelors/ettes today with the details and event break-down. It is a very detailed email, but it is important to give the participants all the information so they know exactly what to expect at the event. I also asked them to keep helping spread the word and bring their friends. When they signed up, they were asked to commit to bringing  5 guests with them to the event. That is one of the best forms of marketing.

I picked up the Improper Bostonian which has our second Date Auction ad in it. The ad was perfectly placed on the same page that listed nightclub events in the city. It is a half page ad and looks awesome. I'm still in shock that they donated two ads to us. That was really amazing. I mailed a card to the publisher yesterday to thank her again for donating the ads.

The Sofft shoes gift cards and display shoes arrived along with the cards for the gift bags. Sofft also gave me a pair of shoes to wear for the event. I chose the Mya- which is an elegant oxford style shoe in gray suede. They are really comfortable and they look so darn cute on. I didn't want to take them off. Here is the link to the shoes.
http://www.sofftshoe.com/Sofft-Mya-in-Ash-Grey-Suede-color

Sofft has given me a pair of shoes to wear for almost every event. They are very generous. Last year, I wore  a pair of green suede pumps with an ankle strap. I wore them a lot during the year. I'm excited to wear these shoes after the event as well. They will go with a lot of outfits.

Well, I'm going to get back to work- I was working on organizing the gift certs. for the 'couples'. I started doing the bid sheets for the silent auction. I want to get those all done tomorrow so it is one less thing to think about next week.
Until next time friends.. please keep wishing us many Date Auction ticket sales!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Countdown!

Well friends, the countdown is on until the Date Auction! Well, to be accurate- I've been counting down for over 6 months, but now are only 10 days away. Ah, the butterflies! Things are looking good though. We're at the same place for ticket sales as we were this time last year. That is important because last year was an awesome turn out and it we want to match that attendance or increase it. The Boston Globe Names section did an awesome write-up about the Date Auction in Friday's paper. Here is a photo of it directly from the paper. It is amazing to be included in the Names section.
The Improper Bostonian also donated a second ad for the Date Auction which was a wonderful surprise. The ad just came out on Sunday in their latest magazine. It is a half page ad which is beautiful. I had always wanted to advertise the event in the Improper, but could never afford it, so to have them so generously offer to donate one ad, then donate a second one is really wonderful.

In other news, I made excellent progress last night on one of the grants that I have to work on. I've been getting sick of hearing myself talk about how I have to work on the grants and I was also getting tired of writing it on my list every time, so I decided that progress needed to be made no matter what. I'm going to back and keep working tonight so I can get this one finished and in the mail tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Braintree to pick up the sports memorabilia photos for the silent auction at the Date Auction. I wanted to pick them up this week so it is one less thing to do next week. I also want to get the bid sheets started tomorrow so that can be done as well. The less there is to do next week, the better.

On that note, off I go to get some grapes from the fridge and head off to grant world. Keep wishing me more ticket sales please! Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Getting Real..

Well, it is getting real friends... I did the Date Auction walk-thru at Venu today. There is something about doing a walk-thru that makes an event even more real. Up until now it is all a collection of emails, ads, photos, profiles, sponsors, gift bag items, auction items, promo materials- everything that needs to come together. When you physically walk into the venue and go over the layout-  it becomes that much more real. I've been working with Vanessa at Venu and she has been awesome. It really means a lot to work with a venue that is welcoming and helpful. Events are a challenge to organize, so when you have good people to work with, it makes it that much easier. Vanessa was very helpful in making suggestions for the layout. This is our first time having the event at Venu, so it takes extra time to figure out where everything is going to go. Gregory, the  owner of Boston Mojo Photo Booth stopped by as well and we decided on a location for the photobooth. I can't tell you how excited I am to have a photo booth at the event- amazing!

Things are moving along well with ticket sales, so that is a good sign. We lost a few bachelors and bachelorettes over the last couple of days, but I was able to replace them immediately with people from the waiting list, so that wasn't a big deal. It really sucks to lose people once the program is printed, but up until that point it is fairly easy to swap people out. We wait until as close to the event as possible to get the program printed. I had an anxiety dream last month that I was at the Date Auction and didn't have any tables or programs, so I would be happier to get the program printed as soon as we can.

In other good news- the first draft of our 2014 calendar is ready! I just looked at it briefly tonight and it looks great. I need to take time and go through it carefully- checking the calendar dates, ads and photos- making sure everything is where it needs to be.

Well friends, I was about to go back and do some more work, but I'm getting tired and should go to sleep. I'm also getting a bit of a headache, which is another good reason to go to bed. On a separate note- happy 27th birthday to my beautiful sister Cordelia!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome September

Welcome September! I can't believe September is actually here. Nine months of work and now are are only two weeks and two days until the Date Auction. It is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. Things are in good shape. We lost a couple of bachelors and bachelorettes over the last few days for a variety of reasons, but they were immediately replaced. Our new flyer is going out to our database tomorrow morning, but you get to see it right now!
The photos look great. If I saw this event advertised, I would be really excited to go to it.

I'm really happy with the people that I have that help keep things moving smoothly for us. Our web host does a really great job. There were a bunch of Date Auction updates that I needed done immediately and they were nice enough to do them the same day without charging extra for having it rushed. Richard, who owns the company, also got our flyer formatted in Constant Contact very quickly for me. I have to spend some much time following up with people for all sorts of things, so it is such a relief when people do things quickly. The Date Auction is such a time sensitive issue, so it was especially important to get these updates done quickly.

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired. I was planning to get a lot more work done, but I think I'm going to go to bed soon and get a good start on things tomorrow. I'll be dreaming of ticket sales! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Goodbye August

Greetings friends- well, we are saying goodbye to August. I'm nervous to leave August because that means the Date Auction is now just a few weeks away and our fashion show and Anniversary Celebration are right on its tail. So what's new? Well, we've had some bouncing around with our Date Auction bachelors - we lost two, but then gained three, so we have a full house for participants. One of the bachelors that we gained is a pretty awesome guy- he's a fire fighter who was also a hero after the Boston Marathon bombings. I'm really happy that he signed up. It turns out he was also a participant in one of our first Date Auctions as well. I had read newspaper articles about him after the bombings, but I had forgotten that he had been involved in our event.

The partner of the DJ that usually does our fashion shows is donating his time to DJ at our Date Auction. The bachelors/ettes are going to be able to choose their own song to come out onstage to. I emailed all the participants this afternoon to ask them to choose me a song. I heard back from a few, but I think I'll be hearing from more soon. I know it would take me some time to choose a song to come onstage to!

In other news- what? There is other news besides the Date Auction? Well, calendar photos are officially done! I did photos yesterday with awesome twins who've been in the calendar a few times. Their mom is awesome- I first met her when she organized a stuffed animal/book drive for us a few years ago. She came here to drop the items off and she was so funny and lively- I liked her immediately.  She has 3 daughters. Her oldest daughter wasn't there yesterday, so it was just the 7 year old twins. The photos came out really well. The girls aren't identical, but they had identical t-shirts on. It's funny- I'm always in a rush to get the photos done, but when they're done, I miss working on them. I've loved taking pictures ever since I was a little kid and I really enjoy meeting the families and doing the calendar photos.

Well, I'm heading back to catch up on some work and eat some grapes. I hope everyone has a happy and relaxing Labor Day weekend. I will be keeping my fingers crossed and holding off the urge to obsessively check email for ticket sales updates! Until next time friends...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Counting Down

Well friends- the countdown until our fall events (particularly the Date Auction) is officially underway. Actually, it has been underway for at least nine months, but now the end is in sight. I can't even begin to tell you how nerve wracking it is. There is so much pressure to have 3 successful events- with the Date Auction being the biggest and the Anniversary Celebration right behind it. The good news is that we are in a good place for our events. I filled all the spots for people to be auctioned off. We have an awesome crew signed up. Our first email blast to our database is going out tomorrow morning. I then have to send Lisa, one of our designers, photos of 20 of our bachelors/ettes to include on the email blast that will go out to the Boston Event Guide database. Once I get that version done, I'll also send it out on the future email blasts to our database. I wait until I get everyone signed up before I pick the photos to include on the email. You don't want to miss including a really attractive and/or well known person. The BEG marketing is one of our biggest components. I feel like I'm doing everything I can to have a successful event, but I still get so anxious.

In other news, calendar photos are almost done. I was in Weston this morning doing photos with an officer and his two little girls- they were a very nice family. I may have one more photo shoot to do. Marie, the graphic designer, is working on the calendar layout. It is always exciting to see the calendar. I'll be really happy when it heads to the printer- one more thing done!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I need to go and catch up on some emails and submit some more updates for our website. I still have to do some grant work- I've been so focused on events that I haven't spent enough time on the grants. Ah, I need a clone! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Well friends- we are now one month and one day until the Date Auction! Ticket sales are officially underway which is always great news. There is always a sense of relief when the first ticket sales are sold. We've filled all our spots for ladies to participate in the auction. We still have a few more spots available for men. It always goes that way. This year was a little unusual because I started getting more men signing up in the beginning than women, but then the number of women signing up took off. One girl dropped out last night because she got into a relationship, but I had 3 more sign up over the weekend, so that wasn't a big deal. I was at the police academy today to recruit bachelors. I've been recruiting from there since our very first event. It is always a good group to visit with. I also get to talk to them about our work and how important it is to give stuffed animals to the children they encounter who are scared or upset. The Date Auction was in last week's Boston Event Guide newsletter, so we're definitely already starting to get the word out. We also might be getting a free ad in a Boston publication- nothing is definite, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Our Date Auction gift bags arrived and they are beautiful! They are the same style tote bag that we usually do, but I went with a bright yellow color. I am so happy that I chose the yellow- it is really eye catching. It is so important to listen to people- I only chose that color because I was asking one of the women who works at the promotional company if there was a hot pink bag- she said there wasn't but she suggested that I look at the gold bag because it was really popular and it looked great. I had looked at a sample color online and it didn't look very attractive. It was a dark yellow in the picture. I asked the guy that I work to send me a sample and he did. I loved the sample and placed the order. Our logo/website really stands out. I was so excited when I opened the boxes last week, I yelped in happiness. I've been using one of the bags and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

In other news- calendar photos are winding down. I'm doing a photo shoot tomorrow morning, then I have one more scheduled for next week and two more that I have to do. The calendar ads are all sold- I actually heard back from another potential sponsor that I had reached out to last month and she came on board to sponsor, so I moved some ads around and was able to make room for the additional ad space which was terrific.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on some emails and submit some new photos of the auction participants to our web host, so we can get them on our site! Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Calendar News

Well friends, I am happy to announce that all of our calendar ads are now sold! There was one month that I had been struggling to find a sponsor for and I was getting anxious, since we wrap up the calendar this month. Even though we're only at the beginning of the month, I like to have everything taken care of as soon as possible. It's funny- I'm really obsessed with getting work things done early. I absolutely hate the stress of getting things done at the last minute- it is awful. Last night, I was driving home from Boston and thinking about who I could reach out to for help with calendar sponsorship. I decided that I would reach out to the ambulance company that already sponsored a month in the calendar and see if the CEO could suggest a sponsor that would like to be involved. This morning, as I composed the email, I thought about asking if they could sponsor an additional month instead of suggesting another sponsor. I've never met the CEO personally, but we've talked on the phone and emailed for a few years and he has always expressed his support for our efforts and always gets back to me quickly.  I mentioned it to Marcy, our volunteer who has been helping us for almost a year, and she recommended asking for their support for the second ad and then, if they couldn't do it, asking for a suggestion for a new sponsor. I emailed the CEO and he wrote back almost immediately to say that they would sponsor the second month. I was so happy and felt so relieved- I physically felt lighter. It's funny how one doesn't realize just how much stress they carry around with them until something good happens and the tension is released.

You can't imagine how much I value the people that help our efforts. Most people are not particularly helpful, so it really means a lot when people do care and choose to help us and support our efforts. It gets frustrating dealing with people who don't call you back, take phone calls or respond to emails- particularly when it's people that you know personally. I never take people's help for granted- it is that help that allows us to grow and continue our mission. I could never do this job without significant amount of help from others.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's lots more to write about, but I'm taking my calendar sales happiness and heading off to bed (with a detour to the kitchen first to raid the fridge for grapes and cheese..) Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Welcome August!

Well, August is here folks! The Date Auction is next month! All this work and now we are hitting the home stretch. I am excited and also nervous. Our fashion show (October 3) and our 10th Anniversary Celebration (November 1) are getting closer as well.

In good news, we have a liquor sponsor on board for our fashion show. Triple Eight Vodka- a local company- will be donating the alcohol so that each guest will receive a complimentary cocktail at the event. I'm glad that we have that taken care of. It took longer than I had expected. I'm still looking for one more food vendor. We have a lot of dessert vendors, but could do with additional appetizers. We also have a sponsor on board for the show which is great.

Calendar photos are coming along well. We have 4 more photo shoots to do, then I think we will be done. I also have one more calendar month that needs a sponsor. Hopefully, that will get taken care of soon. I did photos this week with some really adorable little kids- so cute that they are a contender for the cover photo.  Yesterday, I did a donation to DCF. I brought my work camera with me because I was heading over to Cambridge to do calendar photos with an ambulance company. I did our usual donation photo, then when I was in the parking lot of the ambulance company- I erased a number of photos to free up space for the next photo shoot. As I was driving over, I was thinking that I needed to erase some photos and I thought that I should make sure not to erase the donation photo I just did. Guess what photo was erased? Yes- I somehow managed to erase the one photo from the DCF donation. Ah, what  a genius! The photos are important because we share them on our FB page and website. It looks a lot better to have a photo to go with our update than just the sentence about our donation.

I did manage to not erase the photo from our donation this week to SMOC for children in homeless shelters. We've been donating stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to them for the past few years. I included some of the beautiful Build-a-Bears in these donations as well. Here is the photo:
Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I was going to work on a grant that I want to get done in the next couple of weeks, but I'm tired and getting a bit of a headache, so I think I'll hold off on that. So, instead, I think I'll have some watermelon... that sounds like a much more enjoyable plan! Until next time friends..



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Polly Progress

Well friends, if I had a dime- just a dime- for every time today that I wrote or said that I was "following up" or "checking in"- I would have had an amazing fundraising day.  It was one of those days that I mostly dedicated to following up with people on all different topics. I was supposed to do photos in Cambridge with the ambulance company that sponsors our calendar, but it was raining and I rescheduled it to next week. In good news, we got a commitment tonight for a new Date Auction sponsor, which I am really happy about. It is a member of of the women's networking group that I'm a member of. We have exceeded our sponsorship record for the Date Auction this year. I think that is definitely a sign of economic recovery. We've also been getting some more great bachelors/ettes sending in their info to participate. It really is a good looking group this year!

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to North Seekonk to do calendar photos with children who are part of a mom's group. Hopefully, the weather will be OK and we won't have to reschedule. We already had to reschedule it once because of rain.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. As usual, there is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired and can't remember anything. I'm on a mission to get as much wrapped up as I can before the end of the month, so that we're in the best place possible as we start the new month. Polly Progress will be back in full force tomorrow folks! Until then.. I'm off to bed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest friends? Well, in good news- we received a $2,500 grant from the Boston Bruins Foundation! That was the grant that I had been waiting to hear the amount that we were approved for.  Last year, we were rejected for funding and the Foundation receives a ton of applications- we had some stiff competition, so the although they weren't able to fund it in full- the fact that we got anything is excellent. I emailed the coordinator at the Foundation to see if I could come in so we could do a photo that we can include in our press release. It always makes a difference to have a photo to send along to the newspaper. Even besides the actual money, it is great to know that an organization as well known as the Boston Bruins Foundation has chosen to support our work again.

In other news- I scheduled our next donation to DCF for next week. Last week, we did another donation to a Worcester family shelter. I'm also working on scheduling our next donation to another organization that runs shelters in the Metro West area. Things are so busy with getting ready for our events and calendar, I need to make sure to keep our with our donations. I also need to get working on a new grant. We were turned down for another grant that I applied for, so I need to keep moving on new applications.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's lots more to write about, but I need to catch up on emails for our next Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club event- these events have been great small fundraisers for Project Smile. We have our vendor fees donated to PS and % of sales at events go to PS as well. I'm also holding off the urge to eat some more delicious cheese and crackers- I think I might will power might be withering! Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Awesome Bachelors & Bachelorettes

Well, I'm happy to say that we've been getting some beautiful women signed up for the Date Auction- and some handsome guys too. We always get a good crowd to participate in the auction, but yesterday and today, I've been getting an influx of cuties signed up which is awesome. I sent out an email to our database recruiting singles yesterday and then I reached out to some people I knew to ask them to spread the word and Melissa, our co-host, also recruited some people. We are now more than half way filled for ladies to participate and almost half way for bachelor sign-ups. Considering that we're a little more than 2 months away, that's a good position. It's going to be a family affair for one group of women- two sisters and their cousin signed up. We've had sisters a few times and we had the awesome identical twin Boston fire fighters Mike and Mark before- who were phenomenal, but this will be our first time with three relatives. We're going to be partnering with Dirty Water TV again and they want to have one of their on-air talent participate as one of our auction bachelorettes which would be excellent.

I spoke with Jeff at Boston Event Guide today which is where we do a big part of our event marketing. We're moving forward with repeating what we've done in the past and he also said that he'd be able to do some additional marketing without charge which will be awesome. We've been working with him since our second auction and it is always a great partnership. I also submitted the event to post on the Boston Magazine event page and on another site that lists charity events for free- they also do a monthly newsletter listing Boston charity events. On a disappointing note, one of the restaurants that donated a gift cert. for the Date Auction is going to be closing early next month. However, on a good note- I got a commitment from another venue for a gift certificate in the same amount, so that was easily replaced.

On Friday, I'm donating again to a Worcester shelter. I also scheduled our next DCF donation for later this month. I was following up with other departments today, but didn't get through to very many people. It's a pretty busy time for vacation.

Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some more watermelon- also known as one of the best fruits in the world and probably the entire universe! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Baby Steps

Today was a day of baby steps- that's what I call making small progress on lots of different things. Last night I was getting stressed out that things weren't progressing fast enough on the calendar and Date Auction. Sometimes, I get a little anxious about things- we're only a little more than 2 months from the Date Auction. It may seem like a long time, but for me, it might as well be 2 weeks. In good news, we are doing well on our sponsorship goal and gift certificates for the event couples. We're also getting more people to sign up to participate in the auction. Most of the event marketing is lined up, but there is still some marketing that needs to be confirmed. All in all, we're in a good place for the Date Auction, but that doesn't make it any less nerve wracking. Tomorrow, our email blast with the recruiting flyer goes out to our database.

I did some more calendar photos today at a local fire department. It was really hot, but everyone did a great job. It is funny how much one can sweat just standing there and taking photos. When I got back in my car, I felt like I had been running around. I have another calendar photo scheduled for Friday- I think it is supposed to be a bit cooler then. I need to keep reaching out to get more children featured. The more people that we have in the calendar also helps with getting people to attend our Anniversary Celebration which is the debut party for the calendar.  So far, most of our sponsors are back on board for the 2014 calendar. I do have to find one entirely new sponsor though. Hopefully, that will get taken care of soon.

Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I'm trying once again to get to bed at a decent hour. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good News!

Well friends, I have happy news to report- we are approved for the grant that I've been waiting anxiously for! This was the same Foundation that had emailed a couple of weeks ago to ask for our W-9 certificate (request for taxpayer ID number). Of course that is a good sign that you're going to get funded, but I wasn't totally sure and then I didn't hear anything, so I was getting disappointed and was checking my email dreading to see an envelope that would have a letter of rejection. This afternoon, I was sitting in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting- I checked my email and there was an email from the Foundation with a form to fill out to send over my bank information for direct deposit. I was elated- it was the one of those moments where everything slows down and you get that rush of pure joy- mixed with some relief. Sometimes, all you have to do is hold on- I feel like that's a good part of the reason that Project Smile is successful- because I dig in and hold on and don't give up. When good things happen like this today it is also a little surreal. Even though it has been 9 years of full time work with Project Smile, I still can't believe that I've been able to make it work. I can't believe all the good things that have happened.

In all our years of receiving grants, this was the most unusual way to find out that you're actually receiving a grant- to be asked for your bank deposit info without anyone directly telling you that you've been confirmed. Since it asked for such sensitive info, I wanted to double check that it was a legitimate email, so I called the Foundation and spoke with the person who had emailed- just to make sure that it wasn't spam-  it definitely looked legitimate. The woman was very nice. I asked her if that meant that we were definitely approved and she said yes. She said the process was a little out of order this time and I would be getting the official notification next week. She didn't know the amount that we are receiving. Hopefully, they are funding the entire amount, but even if they only fund it partially, it is still good. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for full funding!

In other good news- we're getting some great bachelors signed up for the Date Auction including our first fire fighters. I'm really happy about that. Calendar photos are coming along well, although the weather caused today's photo shoot to be rescheduled. We're also making progress with calendar ads- getting more sponsors recommitted.

So that's the latest friends. Lets keep the good news rolling in! I'm off to clean up some more- I'm having a big party on Saturday for my Meet Up group which I am really looking forward to. I'm taking most of the day off tomorrow just to get ready! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back to Work

I hope everyone had a great 4th July holiday. I took a few days off and also somehow managed to forget that I had a calendar photo shoot scheduled on Saturday morning. I had it written down- I had looked at it a few days before and forgot about it until 5 hours after I was supposed to be at the station. I called the officer and he was really nice about it. I was so apologetic- it is pretty bad to forget about a photo shoot. I was glad that he was so pleasant about it. We're going to reschedule for another day.

Still no word about the grant that I've been waiting to hear back about- the one that asked for my W-9 certificate. I didn't get a rejection letter, but it isn't looking good to not hear any news. It definitely doesn't make sense to ask for that form if you're not going to fund us, but who knows what happened.

In other news, we have another sponsor confirmed for the Date Auction. Sometimes, I feel like I get sponsors committed by sheer nagging ability (or, in more polite terms- my ability to "follow up").  I know it is true though-  almost every donation we get requires following up- some donations require an extensive amount of following up. This new sponsor is a fashion company- I met the owner at an event a couple of months ago. It is great to have a new sponsor on board.

In some other Date Auction news, I visited the police academy last week to recruit bachelors/ettes for the Date Auction. It is always fun to visit the academy. They are very formal, but they do relax after a bit- especially when I start talking about the Date Auction. I got a bunch signed up, now I just need them to send in their info for the program and marketing. There is a new Academy class starting soon, so I will probably be heading over to recruit at that one as well.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm not sure why I am so tired. I'm going to head to bed early (ah, famous last words). Before I go- a shout out to Wimbledon winner Andy Murray. His win, the first for my birthland in 77 years, was inspirational.  I was glued to the game yesterday- it was an awesome game to watch. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shopping- Tax Exempt Style

Happy July friends! Tonight, I'm dedicating this post to shopping- tax exempt style. Why? Because it is funny how almost every retailer has a different way that they handle tax exempt sales. After nine years of shopping, I still find it amusing. On Saturday, I realized that I had a coupon that was about to expire for trash bags- we use them to discard stuffed animals that don't meet our criteria. So, I zoomed down to Target to buy my bags. Target is one of the easier stores to shop at with your sales tax exempt certificate. However, this time the cashier didn't know how to process the coupon and the tax exempt, so she told me that coupons couldn't be used for tax exempt sales. Obviously, this isn't true. I told her that wasn't right, so she called over the supervisor to help. The cashier told the supervisor that I wanted to use "both tax exempt and a coupon" with a tone that made it sound like I was trying to rip off the store. The supervisor showed her how to input them both- easily done. I laughed as I drove home thinking about all the experiences I've had using our tax exempt certificate. Shopping at Family Dollar used to be a nightmare when it came to checking out. The sales associates were evidently never trained properly in how to process a tax exempt sale because almost no one could figure it out. They always used to call a manager to do it. It has gotten a lot better over the last few years and is a relatively simple process now.

Shopping at I Party is another one of the worst shopping experiences with a tax exempt certificate. They make you fill out an additional tax form every time you shop at the same store- a giant time sucker for everyone involved and those standing in line behind you. Big Lots used to do this as well- I haven't shopped there for supplies recently, so I don't know if they still do. A.C. Moore used to do this as well which always took forever. They recently changed their procedure.

A  number of stores have you fill out a form and give your documentation, then they give you a special tax exempt card for their store. You hand that to the cashier at the start of the transaction and they enter the info. Staples, Walmart, Best Buy and now A.C. Moore all do this now.

Other stores ask you for your driver's license every time you make a purchase with the tax exempt certificate- even with the store card. Some stores print out a receipt after each purchase where you have to fill out your contact info (Target and others).

I don't know why stores have such a vastly different way of handling tax exempt sales. There are thousands of tax exempt organizations that shop- all using the same type of certificate. Maybe it is because the tax code is complicated, so different stores handle it in different ways. I don't mind the tax exempt store card- it is simple once you get the card. Associates should always have proper training so they know their store's policy and how to process the sale. The process should be efficient so that when you come in with a certificate, you don't have to fill out additional forms every time you shop- that is just annoying. Imagine if you had to do that every time you checked out at the grocery store??

Well, that's my piece on shopping- tax exempt style! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fingers Crossed

Well friends, I have my fingers crossed that I will be getting some positive grant news. We applied for a 5K grant from a local foundation a few months ago. We received a grant from them in 2008, but we were declined last year. We fit perfectly into what they fund, so I applied again this year and have been waiting to hear. The last time, they called with the great news, so I've been rather dreading getting a letter or email from them. This afternoon, I saw an email from the Foundation and my heart sunk. I opened the email and they said they were reviewing applications and requested our W-9 form- which is a request for our tax payer ID number. I emailed it over immediately and got a response that they received it. I'm not sure what, if anything, that means. If you weren't going to fund a grant, there is no reason to ask for our W9- also you wouldn't waste time asking for every grant applicant's W-9 form- particularly since the grants were due months ago. However, if you were going to fund the grant, wouldn't you just say that and then ask for the W-9? I don't want to get my hopes up and then find out we didn't get funded, so I'm really trying to not think about it. However, we really need this money. We're on the downside for fundraising- which is typical for this time of year, so this grant would put us back where we should be. Oh, the anxiety! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they are deciding to fund us.

In other news- I did calendar photos at Hopedale FD today, that is always a fun one to do. Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Foxboro to photograph two boys who were in the calendar last year. Their mom is in the women's networking group with me. It will be nice to see how the kids have grown. I have another 1 1/2 months in the calendar confirmed for ads which is a relief. We're making progress folks! It feels like I'm moving at a slower pace than a turtle, but that is OK- as long as we keep making progress, that's all that I need.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on a few more emails. Send happy thoughts my way for some good grant news please! Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Happenings

Happy Monday friends! I hope everyone had a good weekend. It finally feels like summer is in full swing. So what's the latest? Well, today I was in Wrentham doing calendar photos with two adorable boys. They were in the calendar last year. I know their mom from the women's networking group. They are a really nice family and the kids are a pleasure to be around. They had a bunch of their own stuffed animals to hold for their photos. I did pictures with the children next to a rose bush a flowering dogwood tree and they look beautiful. I wish we could print in color because the colors of the flowers are so rich and vibrant.

I did more photos last week with the children of one of our board members Kelly, and the other families that she recruited to participate. They came out really well too. I did photos of a little brother and sister and I think it could possibly be our cover photo. The children are so beautiful and the photo is really lovely. We're still in the beginning stages of photos, so it is too early to make that call, but this is definitely a strong contender for the cover. I always forget how much fun I have meeting the kids and taking photographs.

Last week, we did another donation of 250 stuffed animals to the State Police. Here is a photo from the donation.  The State Police always make an effort to do a nice photo. Most of the stuffed animals were also from the Build-a-Bear donation. I'm going to email it to the lady at Build-a-Bear this week.
In other news- Danielle Vollmar, the new on-air personality at News Channel 5, Boston will be hosting our fall fashion show at the Harborside Inn during Boston Fashion Week. She sounds very enthusiastic and I'm really happy that she is on board. We've always had great hosts for our show. Finale is also back to be a dessert vendor and we have two other dessert vendors that are interested in participating.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I've already loaded up on cantaloupe, red grapes and cottage cheese, so I think I'm doing eating for tonight (finally!). Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Ah, how did a whole week go by already? I'm a little scared at how fast this summer is going. It has been pretty rainy here lately, so that hasn't helped with the feeling of long summer days to enjoy. So, what's new? Well last week, we did another donation to Boston Police of over 250 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. Boston is one of my favorite departments to donate to. The Sgt. was going to drop a box of stuffed animals off that day with the homicide unit so that they had some to give to the children who were relatives of victims. Almost all of the stuffed animals were from Build-a-Bear's recent donation. I emailed my contact at Build-a-Bear who had organized the donation and shared the photo with her. She was happy to see it. Here is a photo.
Tomorrow, I'm doing another donation to the State Police. Almost all of those teddy bears will be from Build-a-Bear as well. Their donation has been one of the best that we've ever received. You can't imagine how much I wish that it could be a regular donation- that would be absolutely amazing.

Tomorrow, I'm also doing some more calendar photos- this one will be with 2 boys from a local family. They were in the calendar last year. I haven't seen them since last summer so it will be nice to see how much they've grown. They were adorable last year and one of the easiest photo shoots that I did. I have some more photo shoots lined up which is good. I have another returning calendar & anniversary event sponsor confirmed today which was also good. We're making slow but steady progress with getting our calendar sponsors finalized.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to tidy up my office for a bit- once again, it is looking rather like a disaster zone. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Donation Day

Well friends, I'm happy to say that we donated to our 187th department today- the West Glocester Fire District which is located in the northwest part of Rhode Island. The Lt. at the department called last week and asked if we could help with donating stuffed animals- they had recently given out their very last one to a child. Of course, I was happy to help and I brought two boxes to them this afternoon. I hadn't been to that part of Rhode Island before- it is pretty and rural. There is something special about doing to fire departments- I've noticed that a lot of them have a family feeling, particularly the smaller departments. I felt that way when I walked in there today. Here is a photo from the donation.


Most of the stuffed animals were from the recent Build-a-Bear donation. I emailed the lady who had organized the Build-a-Bear donation the photo. She wrote back quickly saying that she was happy to see the bears in action. I have to pick up our next case of teddy bears from our storage space- I need some more to include in our donation Thursday to Boston PD.

So what else is new? Well, I need to get cracking on grants- I feel like I'm falling behind on finding new grants to apply for and I need to reapply for at least one more grant soon. There are a couple of other grants that I will apply for this year, but it is too early now to apply. Grants are an important source of funding for us and I need to keep it up. I read an article this afternoon about how high unemployment levels still are and it was really unnerving.  It is so important that we stay on solid financial footing- even though the economy is getting better, it still isn't that great and that has a definite impact on our fundraising. I also read another article a few weeks ago about how much time congressmen/women are required to spend fundraising by their national committee- an average of 4 hours a day. That is close to the amount of time that I have to spend on it. It cuts into program work, but it absolutely has to be done. Fundraising is the most time consuming thing, but I've learned to embrace it!

Well friends, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some more of the delicious cantaloupe that's in the fridge. I love summer fruit! Until tomorrow friends..


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Well, it's almost 1am and I should be in bed, but I didn't want to go sleep without blogging. So what's new? Well, yesterday I stopped by the local company who stores our boxes and picked up a box of the beautiful Build-a-Bear teddy bears that were donated to us from the Boston area stores. They are absolutely gorgeous! I'm looking forward to including them in all of our upcoming donations. I received a phone call today from a Rhode Island fire department that was in need of stuffed animals. I'm heading out there on Monday to make the donation and do a photo with them. The Lt. said he had given out his last stuffed animal to a child this week and had been searching for a business or organization that would donate them. He found us online. It is always great to add a new department.

Today, I returned some of the autographed sports pictures that didn't sell at the silent auction that we did during Beer Fest. We raised almost $500 with the auction which was good. It is only a small auction and we don't have to do much work, so it is an easy fundraiser. I then zoomed up Rt. 93 to Dorchester and dropped off a large box of books, coloring books/crayons and small toys to a Boston shelter that we've been donating to for the past few years. The shelter is part of Catholic Charities and is home to 16 children. The staff and director are so nice- they always give me little gifts to take back. Today, they gave me some of their tote bags and frisbees. They've given me their tote bags before and they always come in handy.

In other good news, 2014 calendar photos  have officially started! I was at Douglas FD early this evening doing photos. Douglas has been in our calendar for quite a few years now. They are a very friendly department and I love going there to do photos. It was great to see the little boy who was only a few weeks old last year when I did the photos. He was one of the tiniest newborns that we've ever had in the calendar and now he is walking around and as happy as all can be.

Well friends, I am off to bed. I've been trying, once again, to go to bed relatively early, but failing miserably (what a surprise!). Until tomorrow...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome June!

Welcome to June friends- the start of summer and the lead-in to our big fall events. We are at the half way point of the year and I'm happy to say that we are in a good place on all fronts. Of course, there is always much more that needs to get done, but we are on track with our Date Auction and Anniversary Celebration. We're also in a good place with keeping up with our donations to the departments- it is virtually impossible to keep up with them all, but I do my best. We're donating again to Revere PD and a Boston shelter on Wednesday. I'm going to be using some of the new teddy bears from Build-a-Bear that were donated recently. I've almost run out of coloring books, so I need to make a trip to Family Dollar tomorrow to stock up.

I've been making some progress with the calendar, but need to make it a priority this week- particularly reaching out to departments to get participation from their officers and also other families that might like to participate. It always takes a little while to get the photo shoots scheduled. I get anxious about it and always feel that I'll never get anyone to participate, but that doesn't happen! I'm doing our first calendar photos on Wednesday at Douglas Fire. They are usually the first calendar photos that we do each year. I also need to keep moving with calendar ads so we can get that wrapped up soon. I get rather obsessed with getting things wrapped up well before they are due. I absolutely hate leaving things until the last minute. I don't like pressure and the earlier you get things done, the less pressure there is. Also, things have a tendency to come up that you didn't anticipate, so when you're ahead of your game it is easier to deal with unexpected issues.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. The blogger website doesn't seem to be working properly right now- it keeps popping up that I need to log-in again, so I'm going to sign off and catch up on some emails. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend. I can't believe we are almost at the end of May. In good news, we added another sponsor for the Date Auction which I am really happy about. This is putting us toward a record for event sponsorship. We've also been making more progress in getting gift certificates donated for the couples to use on their dates. I only need 8 more certificates, then we will technically have enough. I need to keep going though because then we can put some of them in the silent auction and that helps us raise funds. I also need to work on recruiting more bachelors/ettes to participate. We already have a few bachelors signed up. Today, I reached out to the fire fighter who has been a huge help in the past and he said he would help get some fire fighters again. I'm also going to attend the FF Burn Foundation charity auction next month and hopefully meet some FF there who would like to do our auction as well.

I'm really happy to announce that we're going to be doing our own fashion show during Boston Fashion Week. We just booked an awesome new venue, the Harborside Inn on State Street for the event. They have a beautiful bar & lounge that we're going to be using. We have an event planner who is donating her time to do organize the event for us. It is going to be awesome! I think we will keep the ticket price the same as our Copley shows, $20 and all the proceeds will go to Project Smile. It is going to be wonderful to have our show that we put together entirely ourselves.

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired and need to go and finish up a few other things. Tomorrow, I'm off to Braintree to pick up auction items for the silent auction fundraiser that we're doing at Beer Fest on Friday. I also want to work on our long over-due PS newsletter and I need to schedule some more police/fire donations and work on our events. Until tomorrow friends...