Friday, April 26, 2013

Fashion Show Success

Well friends, I'm happy to announce that the Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser was a success! It was the best one that we've done so far, which is awesome! The fashions were really great- I could even hear some people in the audience ooh and aah over some of the outfits. We had the best selection of food that we've ever had. All the vendors were really energetic and did an excellent job. A big thanks goes out to Copley Place and all the effort that they made. MLR Artist Management for their hair/make-up for our models, the NE Art Institute for their volunteers who helped run the show, our lovely models and our vendors: Voli Vodka, GuS Soda, Finale, Whichit Sandwiches, LaCascia's Bakery, The Good Life Kitchen and Pretzel Crisps. Jackie Bruno, anchor/reporter from NECN, was a lovely host. She had a lot of enthusiasm and did a great job. We've been really lucky with the wonderful hosts that we've had for our shows. Thank you to everyone who attended. I hope they had as much fun as I did!

I made sure to take time to actually take it all in at the event. With events, it is very easy to get caught up in the details of making sure everything runs smoothly and greeting and mingling with guests, that it can be easy to forget to actually take it all in and enjoy the moment. As the show was going on, I reminded myself to stop thinking about which models were coming out next and instead, focus on actually seeing what was happening. When you slow yourself down and actually take the time to enjoy the moment, to look around you and marvel at it all- it is really something. If someone would have told me when I was a teenager of all the stuff that I would get to do as a grown up, I would have been so happy. I get stressed out a lot with Project Smile, but I consider myself amazingly lucky for all the wonderful things that have happened to me because of my work.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. It is almost 1AM and I'm off to bed, but first, I will munch on a little bit more of this delicious Lindt chocolate Easter bunny. Blogging followed by a snack- they just go together so perfectly! Until next time friends..

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Fashion Show News

Well, after the horror of last week, it is good that we have some happy news this week. Our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show is officially sold out!  We are continuing a great tradition that we have going on with our fashion show.  I was laughing at myself this afternoon- I get so anxious about our events, but then, when it all works out, I can't remember why I was so anxious. We were stagnant for a while with ticket sales and that causes anxiety. Last spring, we sold out one month before the show which was incredible, so it made me worried that we weren't matching that. Of course, in the end it doesn't matter if you sold out one month or one day ahead. Our models are getting fitted, our host is confirmed and our vendors are pretty much all in communication with Copley Place, so things are on track. Copley has some awesome gift bags for the guests which is great. I had a meeting with Copley today to do a walk-thru and go over the last minute details.

Tomorrow, I have to return the auction items which were for the silent auction that we were supposed to do at  beer/wine fest over the weekend. The event was cancelled due to everything that was happening in Boston. It will now be held May 31/June 1. We have 30 sports items here and I want to return them to the dealer as soon as possible.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There is more to write about, but my mind is starting to go blank. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Shocking Loss

Just when it looked like things couldn't get much worse this week, it did. Last night, MIT police officer Sean Collier, was killed in his police cruiser by the Marathon Bombers. Sean was one of our 2010 4th Annual Project Smile Date Auction bachelors. He was a graduate of the MTA police academy which is were I usually go to recruit bachelors for our largest fundraiser. I only had a few interactions with Sean, but I could tell what a nice person he was. It takes a brave soul to go up on stage and put yourself up for auction. I'm always grateful for those who care enough to support our event and our efforts.

It is heartbreaking for all those who were killed and injured, but there is something particularly horrifying about this loss. Sean's roommate, another police officer, was also a bachelor in our Date Auction. It is so sad to think of these people who are gone who had their whole lives ahead of them and were just starting out.  This has been a horrifying week of needless violence. It is a relief to know that the criminals have been captured/killed, at least we can relax and not worry about finding those responsible. The police and other law enforcement authorities did an amazing job and we're all grateful for their hard work.

 My heart goes out to Sean's family, friends and all those who knew and loved him. May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting Back on Track

It's been so comforting to read the stories of the people who rushed to help those who were injured in the Marathon attacks. There are so many brave and wonderful people out there. It is proof that those who wish to do harm and cause terror will not prevail- the collective spirit of the majority who are good and genuine will triumph in the end.

Today was a more productive work day. I zoomed up to Holden to do the donation that I was supposed to do on Friday. They give out a lot of stuffed animals to children and they were happy to have the additional books and coloring books/crayons for children who come into the station for a variety of reasons. The department has a lovely new station since I had been there last. I was talking to the Chief about the beautiful department that Nantucket has and it was the same architect who designed both stations. You can see some of the similarities.

In good news, we have a new sponsor for the Anniversary Celebration. It is a bank which is expanding into the local area. It is always excellent to have new sponsors on board. Now, I need to keep getting new ones and making sure all the previous sponsors match at the same level as last year.

In not so good news, we are going to have to find a new venue for the Date Auction. We got word this afternoon that Gypsy Bar will no longer be able to host us this year. I started making some calls and I'm meeting with a potential venue on Friday who would like to host our event. The only issue is that their space is a little on the smaller side. I also spoke with one of our hosts who has a lot of connections with venues and he is helping with securing a new venue. I'm confident that we will get the new place booked soon.

In other good news- ticket sales are moving along well for the fashion show at Copley Place next Thursday. We've sold more tickets than the fall show which is great. It is going to be a great event and hopefully a nice way for people to relax and have fun which is much needed after the horror on Monday.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat an orange. Yes, an orange- not a grapefruit!  Grapefruit season is pretty much over- they're going up in price, so I'm now transitioning over to oranges- that season is pretty much over as well, but they were on sale at Market Basket. In the interest of saving money, I actually removed my loved (but increasingly more expensive) grapefruits from my shopping cart and replaced them with a bag of oranges which were on sale. Now, if I win the lottery one day- I will be able to eat grapefruits regardless of the price! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It was a difficult day today. I am still in shock over yesterday's bombings at the Boston Marathon. It is so horrific. It was really hard to focus on doing any actual work today. I tried, but I spent most of the day reading online, looking at photos and watching the coverage. I read that the relatives of a Lowell police officer who I've known because of Project Smile for many years were very seriously injured in the attacks- one woman lost both her legs and her teenage daughter was badly injured. I emailed the officer this afternoon to let him know that I was thinking of him and his family. I can't even imagine what so many people are going through who were victims and their families. It is really heart breaking to see the images from the attacks and imagine what it was like for the people who were there. My heart goes out to everyone who was there and witnessed such horror and of course those who were victims.

I wish I had good news to report about anything, but I don't. It didn't feel right to work on fundraising today and I couldn't focus on any grants and I decided it wouldn't be a good day to reach out to any police/fire departments. I figured that even some of the departments that are no where near Boston might be extra busy today, so I didn't make any calls. Tomorrow, I'm planning to drop off stuffed animals and coloring books/crayons and reading books to Holden PD. I was supposed to drop them of on Friday, but because of the difficult driving conditions, I went straight home after Gardner. I need to be productive tomorrow, so I'm going to write my list and make sure I get some things done tomorrow.

Well, that's all for tonight friends. I wish everyone all the best- this event was a horrible reminder of how unpredictable things are and how lives can change in one devastating instant. That said, we need to also remember that many things can also happen for the best and there is so much love and many good things in the world. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sad Day

It was a sad and shocking day with the bombings at the Boston Marathon today. My heart goes out to those who were killed and injured and their families. I can only imagine the pain they are going through. It was supposed to be such a happy day for so many people who were accomplishing something so special and for it to turn into such a tragedy is simply awful. It is shocking how quickly things change- a normal day turns shocking. I was sending an email about the fashion show when I switched back to Facebook, partially out of a bad FB habit, and I saw the Boston Globe update about an explosion at the Marathon- from then it got worse as the news came out. It is horrible to think of this happening anywhere, but somehow, it is even worse that it happened in the city I love.

It doesn't seem right to talk about anything else right now. All my worries about sponsors, grants, money and the like seems trivial when you see things happen like they did today. I was thinking about that actually when I was driving up to Gardner on Friday to do a donation to the police department. It was raining lightly at home and I had seen weather reports that it would be sleet up north- where I was heading, but I didn't pay that much attention to it- partly because it was only light rain at home, partly because it was almost mid-April and I figured that it couldn't be that bad- so I headed up to Gardner.  It was just rain for most of the ride, but on Rt. 2, only a few miles before my exit, the temperature dropped and there was heavy sleet and the road conditions quickly deteriorated. I drove past one accident and on the way home, drove past 4 more accidents on Rt. 2. It was dicey driving- very slow going and nerve wracking, but I made it home without incident. As I drove and looked at the wrecked cars, it was such a reminder of how quickly things change. Those drivers didn't set out that morning thinking they were going to wreck their car, but things happen and lives can change in an instant. The people who were watching the marathon definitely didn't think that their lives would be torn apart on what should have been such a happy day. It's like the children that we aim to help- they are all in situations that they had no control over.  They are innocent victims of accidents, abuse, injuries and a wide range of other traumatic situations. It is so sad to think of all the horrific things that go on every day, all over the world. My goal with Project Smile is to help in some small way to alleviate some of the fear and pain that children go through. There's so much that we have no control over- today was one of those days. I'm so saddened by what happened today and my heart goes out to all those who were effected and their loved ones. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday's Happenings

Happy Monday friends! It was a beautiful spring day out- I think it is safe to say that spring has finally arrived. I even broke out my sandals for the first time since October (that makes it officially spring!) So what's new? Well, here is a nice photo from our donation on Friday of over 250 stuffed animals, books and coloring books to Boston PD.
This photo came out really well. I have to make sure that we put it on our website as well. I always post the photos on our FB page, but not every photo goes on our website.

So what is else going on? On Friday, we will be donating to our 186th department- Gardner Police. We will also be making another donation to Holden PD. I have run out of coloring books, so I need to go and buy some at Family Dollar before Friday. I was at a Family Dollar in Somerville on Friday to stock up, but their credit card machine wasn't working, so I couldn't make a purchase. I need to find a better supplier of coloring books. The Family Dollar price is really good, but we can probably do better. It is harder to get unused coloring books donated than it is stuffed animals.

We received a $750 donation from our local Walmart which is helpful. Walmart was the first corporation to give us a sizable donation. Since 2004, they have donated between $500-$1,000 annually. Grants that are reliable like this are the foundation for our financial success. You need to have steady support like that so you can keep reaching out and adding new sponsors.

Things are moving along steadily on getting auction items for both our events. As long as we keep making baby steps, I am happy. We received a couple of more restaurant gift certificates which was good. We also received some dinner certificates that were smaller than they had been in the past which was a little disappointing, but at least they donated. Every donation is helpful- it's just that you wish that the donors are able to match what they did in the previous year. I'm going to have to put some restaurant certificates into auction bundles, so we get more money for them. For some of the Boston area ones, I'll put the smaller certificates with an activity for the date auction 'couples'.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and read for a bit. I have a lot of other things to do, but yesterday and late this afternoon, I've been doing battle with the invasive vines that are choking the trees in our yard and now I'm pretty tired. Yard work is a really good workout! Also, here is a special shout out to my brother- Happy Birthday Vincent!
Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Everything Day

Well, today was one of those days where I worked on a bit of everything. That's the goal every day, but it doesn't always work that way. I was working on outreach to police departments that already participate in our program to check on their supply. I didn't get around to contacting any new departments. We're donating to Boston PD on Thursday. I was also working on following up with some of the departments that we donated to recently to get letters of support from them. We include these letters in our grant applications and it makes a difference.

I was also researching some new grants to apply for. I found a couple that we would be good fits for. Some of them we have applied to years ago and were rejected, but things can change and we fit in with their funding priorities, so I think it would be worth it to apply again. We were rejected today for a grant from a retailer that has a store nearby. It would have only been a small grant, but it's always disappointing when you don't get a grant. I could do with some help in researching grants that we could apply for. There is a lot of information available, but it takes time to go through everything and see where we could fit in. It is really disappointing when you see large foundations where you have to be invited to apply for their grant and there is no contact information available on how you can get invited. I know that foundations get a lot of proposals, but at least allow an organization to submit some information, then the foundation can decide if they want that organization to complete a grant. When you don't even get that chance it is disappointing. The one foundation in particular that I'm thinking of is attached to a business where we spend a lot of money every year.

Well,  that's the latest for tonight. Once again, I'm super tired and can't think of what else happened today- even though it was a busy day. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and curl up under my heated blanket- where did that wonderful spring weather disappear to?? Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome April

Well friends, April got off to a delightful start with a $5,000 donation.... Ha- April Fool's! There was no wonderful surprise donation that came in today, but it was still a good day. We keep chipping away at gift certificates for the couples to use on their date. I want to get that taken care of as soon as possible, so that leaves plenty of time for all the other tasks.

I was working on fashion show promotion today as well. We saw a bump in ticket sales this afternoon which was good. I've asked each of the models to commit to bringing 5 guests with her. I was inspired to do this after I read the application for a different charity event in Milwaukee that I found online. That event asked each participant to commit to bringing 10 guests with them. I loved that and I'm going to use that in the Date Auction as well. Word of mouth is still one of the very best forms of marketing, so we need people who are involved in our events to spread the word and bring their friends, coworkers, family, etc. When you give people a specific goal- in this case a number of people to bring with them- I think it helps. It isn't enough to just say, "bring your friends." We still have plenty of time before the show, but in my perfect world, we would have all the tickets sold already! 

Well, there is lots more to write about, but I am really tired and I can't remember much of anything. I had a long meeting earlier tonight about an unrelated project and it was an energy zapper. I had a lot of plans for things I was going to do when I came home, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I just finished a delicious and rather large slice of lemon meringue pie- ah, if only it was a health food- I could eat that every night! Until tomorrow friends...