Thursday, December 18, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! Happy one week until Christmas! It's getting close to my favorite time of the year. So what's new? Well, last week we did another donation of items to the Dept. of Children and Families and we also dropped off stuffed animals, books and coloring books to Milford Police and Revere Police. Here is a photo from our Revere donation. They were happy to have our items- the lady texted me the next day and she'd already given out some of our stuffed animals.
Tomorrow, we're off to the Entre Familia homeless shelter in Mattapan for their annual Christmas party. I am so excited for the event. Yesterday, a local financial services company Shepherd & Goldstein hosted a wrapping party for us again.  I brought all the gifts over, we sorted them and we all wrapped them all. Every child will get a lovely Christmas gift bag. The company donated $250 and all the wrapping paper and gift bags. It was so nice of them. I really appreciate their help. It was a lot of fun wrapping the gifts.  Here is a photo.

I'll post photos next week from tomorrow's party. Santa is making a visit, thanks to 2 Southboro firefighters. I think the children are going to have a great time and I'm so glad that we're able to help.

In other good news, last week we received a $4,000 grant from the Brown Charitable Foundation. They have been supporting us for many years. They even increased the grant amount by an extra $500 which was a lovely surprise. Ongoing grants like this one is our financial base, so it is so important to have that funding every year. We also received an unsolicited $500 donation from the Milford National Bank's Charitable Foundation which was another very nice surprise. The local banks have been some of the best and most reliable support we've had. I am a huge fan of community banks and wish there were more of them.

On that note, I'm off to eat my grapefruit, I've been buying some lately from Market Basket that have been perfectly delicious! Until next time friends...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Welcome December

Greetings friends! Well, we are more than a week into December, so I'm rather behind with my blog title! So what's new? Well, things have been busy here. In happy news, we received a $3,000 grant from the DCU for Kids Foundation. The foundation has been supporting us for the past few years and I'm really happy about that. Having that ongoing annual support is absolutely critical for us. In order to keep growing, you need to have a strong base to build on. I got a little nervous before I opened the envelope because it seemed really thin. I always feel the envelopes from grantors before I open them- trying to guess whether it will bring good news or not. If it feels thin, I brace myself for bad news. Thankfully, this time I was needlessly bracing myself for bad news!

In other news, I'm working on getting the gifts together for our annual holiday party at the Boston Public Health Commission's Entre Familia homeless shelter in Mattapan. Some friends and board members have very generously donated gifts and I will buy gifts this week. I'm so happy that we have a Santa Claus coming to visit the children. One of our fire fighter supporters dresses up as a Santa- he's been to some of our events before and he is on board to come to our holiday party and greet the children. The kids are going to love it! Shepherd and Goldstein, a local accounting business is going to be wrapping all the gifts for us and they're donating $250 as well. I'm really looking forward to shopping for the kids. It is so much fun to buy toys!

Women's Success Network, the womens networking group that I am a member of, chose Project Smile as one of the two charities for their December holiday dinner- they asked members to bring in new items for us. The members were very generous and donated a lot of coloring books, crayons and some toys and art items. I really appreciated all the effort they made to donate such nice items.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit, then spend at least a few minutes tidying up my office. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Event Success!

Greetings friends! I am happy to announce that we had an awesome 11th Anniversary Celebration last Friday. We raised 10K for Project Smile and had an awesome turnout. I was so happy with how the event went. The ballroom looked so pretty as well. We decorated with tons of stuffed animals which made it look wonderful. My sister Eve helped with the setting up the auction items so they were displayed well and Marcy, our awesome volunteer helped to get the balloons. We had more balloons than usual and saved $175 by getting them ourselves. Katelyn Flint from NECN filled in for news anchor Steve Aveson and she did a lovely job as our guest speaker. Our host Dick Ferrucci was amazing as always- he does the live auction as well and he is the best at it. He is awesome at getting people to bid and it is so entertaining to watch him work the crowd as well. The guests love him. Here are some photos from the event. You can check them all out on our Facebook page, photos courtesy of Clark Linehan: 11th Anniversary Celebration photos
With Katelyn Flint from NECN and my friend Olga Kwasniewski, Ms. Massachusetts Globe
 Here is a photo with our musicians who donated their time- the Barry Levine Jazz trio. They did a wonderful job performing.
 My sisters and I with our awesome host Dick Ferrucci

 With our board member Kelli Wentzell, owner of Theracopia Massage & Wellness Center.

 Our delicious cake from Konditor Meister
Thank you so much to everyone who donated, sponsored, attended and volunteered. I really appreciate everyone's support who made this event a success. It wouldn't have been possible without the kindness and support from so many people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

On that note, I'm off to eat my grapefruit and catch up on some work. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2 Days Until the Big Night

Well friends, here we are again- 2 days until our big night and our last event of the year. Our Project Smile 11th Anniversary Celebration is less than 48 hours away. I can't believe it! So, how are things looking? So far, we are in good shape. I picked up the calendars yesterday and they look awesome. The design and print quality is excellent and of course, the photos look terrific! Today, I picked up the event programs at Staples. All of our bid sheets are now done, live auction items are all set. I went to Party City tonight to select the balloons for the event. I realized I could save a ton of money by buying the latex balloons at Party City and bringing them to the event ourselves- I should have done that years ago. Having balloons delivered is so expensive it's a little ridiculous. I couldn't decide which balloon colors to choose- I was staring at the choices for what felt like forever. Two of the sales associates were a huge help in choosing the balloons. I told them about our event and they even drew up a floor plan to figure out how many balloons we needed and where to put them. They blew up some of the balloons so I could see the colors together. I was so impressed by their help- it made a huge difference. We ordered 48 balloons and it came to a total of $51. Our awesome volunteer Marcy, offered to pay for the balloons which was really nice of her. She is coming on Friday to help set up and help pick up the balloons too.

Our jazz musicians- the Barry Levine Jazz Trio- are confirmed. They are donating their time which is great. Steve Aveson, our guest speaker, has a scheduling conflict and won't be able to attend, but Steve obtained a replacement- Katelyn Flint, a new reporter for NECN. She seems really nice and is enthusiastic about participating. It's a shame not to have Steve there, but it should be fine. I'm picking up our cake tomorrow at Konditor Meister at Braintree- home of the best cakes.

I'm bringing a  lot of stuffed animals with me to the event so I can use them as decorations. I usually bring some anyways, but I want to use a lot more this time. I'm also going to tie the balloons around the beanie babies to anchor them. I do that at the Date Auction and it always looks cute. I have a bunch of beanie babies that I set aside to use as decorations at our events.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to get some more things together and make sure that I haven't forgotten anything. Wish me luck friends! Until tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Countdown!

Well friends, the countdown is on to our big night! We're just 10 days away from our Project Smile 11th Anniversary Celebration- next Friday, Nov. 7 at the Doubletree Hotel, Milford. I'm really excited for the event and nervous too. We have an awesome jazz trio- the Barry Levine trio, who are donating their time to perform at the event.  You can check them out at: https://sites.google.com/site/bljazzgroup/ 
I've been following up with people who have been invited and working on getting the word out as much as possible.  Everyone who comes to the event has a great time, it's just challenging to make sure that we have a good turn out. You can never take it for granted. Here is the event flyer- please share it and help us get the word out!

Tomorrow, I'm off to Braintree to pick up the autographed sports photos for the silent and live auction. I also have to pick up the sports photos for the silent auctions that we will be doing at Boston Event Guide's beer and wine fest next weekend. We're picking up a total of 50 items! It's our largest amount of items to pick up at one time. It is going to be a busy weekend with our event on Friday, then 2 auctions at Wine Fest on Saturday and two more auctions at Beer Fest on Sunday. It is really nice of Boston Event Guide to let us do auctions at their events. I really appreciate it. 

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I now this is a short blog, but I'm heading off to work on bid sheets. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Happenings

Greetings friends! Blogging 2 days in a row- I've almost forgotten what that's like! So what's happening? Well, here is a photo from our donation yesterday to Boston PD of over 250 stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons and reading books. It was a memorable donation yesterday because my youngest sister drove me. She is taking her driver's license road test next week, so she was practicing her driving by going into Boston with me. It was funny, because she was very concerned about not being able to see out of the rearview mirror- I tried to convince that when I took driver's ed, they turn the review mirror away from you so that you can't use it when on the highway. They want you to use your mirrors. That didn't help her feel better. I told the police sergeant that she was practicing her driving and he was very nice- he stopped 2 lanes of traffic so she could back out of the parking lot easily! I'm happy to say that she is doing very well with her driving.
In other news, I have 2 grants that need worked on. I got good news last week that we will be receiving a $4,000 grant from a local Foundation that has supported us for many years. That was a relief. I always get so anxious about our grants. I'm waiting to hear back from another grant application- keeping my fingers crossed that it is good news too.

Tomorrow, I'm sending another email blast for the Anniversary Celebration and then I'm working on calling everyone who has been invited to the event. We need a good turnout and I have to do everything possible. We're going to be promoting it on the local radio next week. I also should start working on the bid sheets for the auction so we can get that done and out of the way.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some of my mom's amazing apple pie. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last blogged. I don't even know why I haven't blogged in so long- that's awful. Well, it has been a busy time. We had our fall fashion show fundraiser during Boston Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago, our calendar is finally at the printer and our Anniversary Celebration is just a couple of weeks away. I am all wrapped up with that event and trying to get a good attendance for it along with some last minute auction items.

Our Date Auction was in the Boston Globe 3 times which was awesome. Here is a photo from the Names section after the event. It was awesome to get that photo in there!
 This is one of my favorite pictures from the Date Auction- the guys are all bachelors from the auction, along with Michael Winter, our host, Ms. Massachusetts and me! I haven't heard of any love connections yet from the Date Auction this time, but hopefully there will be at least one.
Our fashion show fundraiser, The Show by Smiling Stiletto, went great. It is a small fundraiser for us- we raised approximately $2,000, but it is also important in raising awareness. We received a lot of great feedback from the event. Our event planner, Mauryn Kkira, did an awesome job again with the event execution. The fashions looked great and the models did an awesome job. Our food and dessert vendors were delicious. Special thank you to KitchenSurfing Chef Jon Sargent, Tia's Desserts, Ayana's Loves Cakes and Pastries, Nunzio's Pizza and Voli Vodka. Everyone who was involved donated their time. Here are some photos with our models (courtesy of Clark Linehan)
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There are lots more photos-so please check them out! Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.705819682843377.1073741845.113932798698738&type=1&l=0aa3a558f6

Well, that's it for tonight. I have a few work things that I need to catch up on. There's lot more to update you on, so I will be blogging tomorrow- I still can't believe I've been so dreadful at blogging lately. Until tomorrow friends....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Date Auction Success

Well friends, I'm happy to announce that we had a great Date Auction on Friday! We raised $18,000 and had another awesome turnout! I'm so happy and relieved that it went well. I've been receiving lots of positive feedback from guests, sponsors and the bachelors/ettes. It seemed like everyone had a great time. We had a photo from the event in the Boston Globe's Names section today which is awesome. This event has been in the Globe three times!

Here is the link to the online version.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2014/09/22/project-smile-hosts-date-auction/6E3QIvKadnrE8tuqHRjgYK/story.html?event=event25

I was so impressed with how our hosts did. It isn't an easy job and they did great. We had a terrific group of people being auctioned off too. Everyone looked awesome. Here is a video that Melissa, our co-host took featuring Pete, one of our bachelors who earned the highest bid on Friday. I'm sure you'll know why he did so well when you see it! Check it out!




Well, that's the latest for tonight. I have to head back and work on a grant and the invitation to our fashion show fundraiser during Boston Fashion Week which is just over 2 weeks away. Time is flying! Until tomorrow friends....

Monday, September 15, 2014

Just Days Away

Well friends, here we are- 9 months of work and now the 8th Annual Project Smile Charity Date Auction is only 4 days away. I can't believe we are almost here. My nerves are sky high- there's a huge amount of pressure to have a successful event. The good news is that we are in good shape. Ticket sales are on track and I've been doing everything that I can to ensure another successful event. We were in Friday's Names section of the Globe which was awesome. Boston TweetUp had our event featured in their weekly email newsletter which went out yesterday and they've been tweeting about the event. Melissa and Winter, our hosts, have been promoting it as well. I'm happy with the event marketing- I don't know what else we could do. One of the ladies being auctioned off sent me a FB message today telling me what a great job I've been doing promoting it.

I tested our credit card machine today to make sure it was working properly- it was. I'll test it again on Wednesday just to double check. I'm going to do one more proof of the program and get it to the printers tomorrow. The program is so important, so I like to have that finished early in the week. I have to print our prize drawing signs and do a few small things, but there isn't too much else left to do. All of our bid sheets for the silent auction are done. I picked up the autographed sports pictures on Friday.

It's funny how I feel a connection to all of our bachelors/ettes that are participating. Out of the 43 participating, I only know about 3 of them personally, but over the months, a connection grows. You see their photos, read and edit their profiles, put them in order for the program, email them with all the details and updates, share their pictures on social media- it's a lot of time that's spent. I want them all to enjoy the event. It takes some pluck to get up onstage like that and I'm happy that they chose to be a part of the event. I hope that they do find love connections. At the very least, I hope that they have a blast. 

Well friends, I'm off to take my anxious self back into the office and get some more things taken care of and proof the program once again. Until tomorrow! Please keep wishing us lots and lots of ticket sales....

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome September!

Well, we are 4 days into September, so I'm a little late with the welcome! Ah, September, it is a lovely month but also the times of great anxiety. The Date Auction is almost 2 weeks away, fashion show in just over a month and our Anniversary Celebration in 2 months- yikes! It is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I'm looking forward to it and so nervous as well. Things are looking good though. I was up until almost 5am last night working, mostly on the Date Auction. I love working late at nights- I've always been a night person. One of the things that I like most about working at night is there are no distractions and no pressure on myself to get things done. It's time that I would be sleeping, so anything that gets accomplished is progress. During the day, I have all these lists and tasks that need to be done, it can get over whelming.

I emailed all our participants today individually to encourage them to keep spreading the word, share the event and help get the word out. I used to do a mass email to the participants, but I think it is better to personalize it for each person. Our bachelors/ettes are a huge part of the success of the event, so we definitely need their help in spreading the word to their friends and connections. We have quite a few people who are well known, so it's great to have their help in particular in getting a great turnout. Our goal is to raise $25,000 this year which I think is doable. We raised 20K last year. I think it is good to let the participants know that we have a particular financial goal- it helps make it real. While it is a fun night for everyone involved, there is a serious need behind it.

Well, I'm going to eat a peach and then head back to work. I have a few things that I need to finalize for the Date Auction program and get it uploaded so that our designer has it. I hold the program for as long as possible before we print it because of last minute changes to the participants. I'm still waiting on 2 bachelors to send over their info and I have one bachelor who might be signing up. There is actually lots more to write about besides the Date Auction, but I'm so caught up with it, I can't think of anything else right now. Until tomorrow friends...keep wishing me more ticket sales!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Good-Bye August

Greetings friends! Well, we are about to say good-bye to August, which means that our the Date Auction is only 3 weeks and one day away! It is exciting and nerve wracking. On the good side, we are in a very good place for the event. We have an amazing line-up of participants- I think it's the best we've ever had. Our flyer with the photos of a number of participants is already out which is the earliest we've had it out. Our marketing is a duplicate of last year's efforts. Here is the flyer- you can download and share it with friends- help us spread the word!
On the down side, my event anxiety is so high. I had another vivid anxiety dream about the Date Auction this morning. In this dream, I was horribly unprepared for the event. Instead of bringing the credit card machine, I brought a video game controller. None of my volunteers showed up. I didn't write up the list of bachelors/ettes that the payment table volunteers use to keep tracking of the winning bids. The gift certificates for the dates weren't in envelopes. My silent auction was a mess. I was so angry at myself at not putting the effort in to make the event run smoothly. I woke up in a panic and had to remind myself that it was only a dream. I am going to recruit more volunteers from another group just so I have enough- we would be in a rough shape without volunteers.

Today, Marcy, our volunteer, and I were working on putting the bachelors and bachelorettes in the correct order for the event. It seems like it would be a very easy task, but it actually requires a lot of thought. We alternate between 3 guys and 3 girls during the auction, but you still have to everyone in a good order. You want to keep it lively- not put all the hotties together- they can't go too early or too late. I was glad to have Marcy's help with it- you need a second opinion on things like this so you can see it from another perspective. I think we came up with a good order. I now need to organize the profiles and edit some of them for the space provided and make sure that there are no typos. It is too early to finalize the program because we always have last minute changes for participants. I wait as long as possible to get it printed because it is awful to have a program that features people who don't show up- there's always a few that don't show up, but that's why we auction off so many. The goal is to have the programs printed 3 days before the event, but ready well ahead, so that only small changes have to be made. I'm still waiting on a few more bachelors to send photos and I need some more ads from sponsors as well.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm now off to raid the fridge for some watermelon. On a side note- I am so happy that the Market Basket dispute had a happy ending. My family and I have been shopping there for the past 16 years and we love the place. These last 6 weeks have been dreadful with not being able to shop there. I am so inspired by the strong will and determination of the employees and it is so uplifting to know that they won. Because of their efforts, we will be able to have the Market Basket that so many of us love. My eyes filled with tears last night when I logged on and saw that it was resolved. It's a reminder of the power that people have and if we band together, anything can be accomplished.
Until next time friends... Happy Labor Day weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Auction Dreaming

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, the other night, I had my second Date Auction anxiety dream of the year. It was so vivid I woke up with my heart racing. In my dream, the Date Auction was a disaster. There was only about a hundred people in attendance- the dance floor in front of the stage looked so empty. In the dream, I was looking out at the crowd trying to figure out what went wrong, how did I mess up so badly. I didn't even know why it had gone so badly. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. I woke up and could barely breathe. There is so much pressure on this event- there is absolutely no room for error. The good thing is that we're in a good place- we're more than half way in recruiting the number of ladies to participate and we're almost half way for the number of bachelors to auction. We have a great group signed up so far, so I'm really happy about that. I've been reaching out to our sponsors to get their ads. I'm having trouble reaching one of our graphic designers- I think she might be on vacation. We have almost 5 weeks to go before the event and I can't spend the entire time in a state of semi-permanent anxiety. We're doing all the same marketing, so I am confident that we will have another awesome event. There is a ton of work that needs to get done before, but as long as I keep going with my usual baby steps, we will be fine.

Of course, there is still the calendar to wrap up and the fashion show and Anniversary Celebration to work on as well as grants. Yes, it is just a wee bit busy! On that note, I'm heading off to bed- my eyes are hurting and my mind is going blank. Until next time friends...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Happy Monday friends! It was a weekend of delightful summer weather and that makes me happy! So what's new? Well, we got some awesome bachelors and bachelorettes signed up for the Date Auction over the last few days. I reached out to a huge nightlife promoter in Boston- we had met in person last December and he offered to help recruit eligible singles for this year's Date Auction. I messaged with him on Friday and he spread the word and got some cool people on board. They in turn have been reaching out to their contacts and helped get others on board. That is the best way to get participants. I'm so happy with the people that we've been getting. There is a beautiful local actress, dating & relationship coach with a huge following, a lawyer & restaurant owner and some other accomplished people- and they are all very easy on the eyes! If this keeps up, we're going to have our best group of bachelors/ettes ever. We still have some more spaces to fill, but we're looking good. I've added photos to our Events page, so check out the new pics!

I've been following up with sponsors to get their ads for the program and website. I checked in with Sofft Shoes and they are going to send me a pair of shoes to wear for the Date Auction again. They've been sending me shoes to wear for the past few years to wear for the event. It is a wonderful perk of the job! It is always fun to choose a pair of shoes- they have such cute styles. I think I've settled on a cute pair of black suede heels that are a Mary Jane style. Sofft does an awesome partnership with us where they donate 10 pairs of shoes worth up to $150 each. The 10 bachelors with the highest bids come with the Sofft Shoes gift card for the winning lady. It really helps drive up the bids.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I already had my fill of watermelon, so now I'm off to sort some stuffed animals that came in the mail. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Welcome August!

Well, August has been here for a week, so I'm a little late with the welcoming the month. So what's new? Times are getting a lot busier. Last Saturday, we did a silent auction at the Summer Beer Fest organized by Boston Event Guide. They've been very supportive of us and let us do silent auctions at their wine/beer fests throughout the year. We auction off a variety of autographed sports pictures. We raised approximately $1,000 which was very good. It was in keeping with what we usually raise. It's always hard to predict which items are going to do well in the auction. People get in bidding wars for some photos, while others only get one or two bids. The good thing is that everyone paid for and took their items with them, so I didn't have to deliver anything. That is usually a bit of a hassle. I used the PayPal mobile card reader device for the first time. I have a credit card machine that I bring to events, but I have to use it in the store/forward mode which takes all the data, then I bring it back to the office and upload the info via the phone line. You don't know if someone gives you a bad card when you're at the event. Having the PayPal reader is good because the transaction is completed right then. The downside is that PayPal takes a higher percentage for their fee, it is slower if you're doing a lot of transactions (like at our bigger events) and I had to keep switching card readers because they would stop scanning after a few transactions. You can input the card number manually, but then PayPal takes a higher fee if you do that instead of swiping. I'm going to look into other mobile card reader options and see if there are others with no fee and a lower transaction fee.

In other news- we dropped off boxes of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Fitchburg Police. The domestic violence advocate had reached out, asking for more items. We've been donating to Fitchburg for a number of years. Last week, I dropped off more stuffed animals and books for Worcester Police. They needed extra items to give out to children at Worcester's National Night Out event this week. They like to give out items to children in need who attend the event. Of course we were happy to help. I need to email DCF to set up our next donation of items.

We're working on winding down work on the 2015 calendar so our designer can start working on it. I only have a few more photo shoots to do. I still have 1 1/2 months that need to be sold. I've reached out to a number of potential sponsors. I received a tentative commitment from one business today and hopefully should get some good news from another sponsor soon. Keep your fingers crossed for us please! I need to get this all taken care of soon so I can move on to other things and focus on our big fall events.

Well, I'm off to work on some other things and eat some more watermelon. I've already had my fill of homemade chocolate chip cookies tonight, so now watermelon feels like health food! I have a meeting in Boston tomorrow morning with a potential sponsor for an exciting partnership. I'm excited for the meeting, so keep your toes crossed that it goes well for us! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happenings

Greetings friends! I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely summer weather! So what's new? Well, in good news- 5 of the Rev Girls, who are the cheerleaders for the New England Revolution soccer team, will be attending the Date Auction! They will be mingling with guests, posing for photos and one of the Rev Girls will be a bachelorette in our auction! How cool is that? That will definitely help bring extra guys to the Date Auction.

It never ceases to amaze me how poor the quality is of some of the items that people donate. 70% of what people donate has to be discarded. Our guidelines are very clear on our website, but still people don't follow them. I opened up a box of coloring books tonight that had been mailed from across the country- it was filled with coloring books that had been drawn in, pages ripped out or were old and yellowed. They were definitely not in the condition that was suitable to be given to children. Recently, I had half-empty boxes of crayons donated to us. I don't understand why people spend money and put time and effort into mailing items that are clearly not following our guidelines. It gets frustrating because I have to spend time sorting out all the donations and discarding items- it isn't easy to have to discard of large quantities of stuffed animals weekly. I don't want to appear ungrateful- because I really appreciate that people want to help and there are plenty of people that donate lovely items, but I don't understand why people make the effort to either drive here or mail items that are clearly old or in poor condition. If they really want to help our efforts, it would be better if they could save the $5 or $10 in postage and donate online to us so that we can get the items we actually need.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to work on our fashion show fundraiser posting for our website and then read for a bit. I'm still reading Cuckoo's Calling and loving it. My sister gave it to me- she always makes excellent book recommendations. I've already had watermelon, then cherries, followed by leftovers, so probably should cease eating for the night. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! Well, I've been doing pretty badly with blogging lately- I need to get back on track. So what's new? Well today, I was a guest on the Colin McEnroe show which is on the Connecticut NPR affiliate. They were doing a show about stuffed animals and they invited me to be on the show to talk about our program and the difference that a stuffed animal makes for a child who has been through a traumatic events. It was a nice interview and I was really happy that they included us. I love doing radio interviews and it is particularly great that we've now been on NPR! I will have a clip from the show put on our website soon.

The end of the month is approaching and I'm getting nervous. It means that the Date Auction is rapidly approaching. We're in a good shape for the event, but it is always so nerve wracking. The main push now is to recruit some more fun and outgoing bachelors/ettes. We've already recruited some good ones, but definitely need more. I'd love to get some prominent Bostonians as well. Right on the heels of the Date Auction is our fall fashion show and then right after that is the Anniversary Celebration. Ah, so many events! If  you think about it all it gets very overwhelming- so I try not to do that. I break every day down into small tasks, otherwise it is so overwhelming it can be hard to make any progress. There are also grants that I need to work on as well.

Well, there's lots more to write about but I'm getting tired and can't think of anything. Watermelon is calling my name from the kitchen, so I'm heading that way... Until next time friends...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Health Insurance Quest

Greetings friends! So what's the latest? Well, I'm on a mission to get new health insurance and so far it has been a rocky road. I've been getting insurance through the business section of the MA Health Connector. I received a letter last month saying that we had to reapply for insurance and a choose a new plan as of September 1. That sounded simple enough, but little did I know. I went online and had some issues even starting a new account-  I finally filled out the application and sent in the required paperwork to prove that we are a business. I received a phone 4:30 Friday afternoon- which is an odd time to make an important call- from the Health Connector saying that my paper work wasn't sufficient. They need a form that we don't fill out because it doesn't pertain to us as a non profit. I told the lady that the paperwork I had submitted was fine when we applied in 2012- I don't understand what had changed. She said first that I had applied with my "old number" instead of reapplying. I hadn't done that- I had filled out a new application and the computer generated a number. I had to do it twice for it to work. Then she said that the requirements to make a business eligible are now different and unless we could supply this form then we wouldn't be able to get business health insurance through the connector. Today, I went online to apply for individual insurance- I applied for premium assistance, but my application stalled early in the process and I kept getting a message saying they couldn't verify my identity. I then had to call their help number- which requires pressing many buttons until you get someone. The lady on the phone still wasn't able to verify my identity- she asked me if I had just moved. I've been living at the same address for 13 years. It's the only place that I've ever had my driver's license address at. I'm registered to vote here- it should be really easy for their system to be able to confirm that I live here. I had to mail in a copy of my driver's license and a document which has my address on it. She said that in a week it should be verified and then I can continue the next step in obtaining insurance.

It is frustrating to go through this process. Health insurance is expensive- there are so many plans to choose from- most of which have very little difference- and most of which are lousy plans. There are 3 levels of coverage (gold, silver, bronze) and within those levels there are 3 levels- and within those levels there are a bunch of different plans- and seriously, most of them are dreadful. They have high deductibles, some of them have a 30% co-pay which is outside of your deductible, others have high fees for any tests that you need- and they all cost serious money. The least they could do is make it a simple process. I don't understand why the business requirements had to change so that we're not eligible anymore. It amazes me to think that a number of people had to come up with this entire system and then other people had to approve the system- didn't someone take a moment and think about what a confusing mess it was? It is really dreadful. For the richest and most developed country in the world, it doesn't seem right that the health insurance system should be like this.

Anyways, that's my news for tonight. Hopefully, things will get straightened out and I can get good health insurance at a decent price. I'm covered until September 1 with my current business plan. On that note, I'm off to eat some more watermelon and read for a bit. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Welcome July

Greetings friends! Well, I'm a little late to the party with welcoming July- it has arrived over a week ago. So what's new? Things are moving along well. I've been getting some great calendar photos lately, so I'm really excited about that. We have a bunch of new children featured which is great. I'm not done with calendar sponsors, but we're making progress. I'm only at the half way point for photos, so there are still a lot to be done.

Last week, we donated stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to a family homeless shelter which is going to be opening up in Providence this fall. It is called the Holy Family Shelter. It is being run by St. Edward's Church. A volunteer, Patti, emailed me last week and asked for help with items for the shelter. They closed a school this year and are renovating it into a shelter. The Church also has a food pantry and a medical office where a doctor meets patients weekly for free. The Church looks like it is doing a lot of great work in the community. I was happy that we were able to help and offered to donate more items if they need them once the shelter opens. Here is a photo from the donation.
Tomorrow morning, the first email blast recruiting eligible single guys and ladies for the Date Auction goes out. I waited until after the 4th July to officially start recruiting because it felt like it was too early- people don't really pay attention. However, we did sell another ticket for the Date Auction over the weekend which was excellent. I've been working on getting our promotions and partnerships lined up for the Date Auction marketing. Most of the big ones are taken care of, but there are still a few more things that need to get finalized. I also need to follow up with some gift bag donors to start getting items in hand.

Well friends, I'm off to do some office organizing- happy to say that my desk is getting neater and doesn't resemble a tornado landing zone- perhaps just a mild hurricane! Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! I hope everyone is enjoying this summer weather- it has been awesome! So what's new? Well, things are moving along well with calendar photos. They are coming out great so far. I have a photo scheduled for tomorrow morning with a twins play group that I've photographed before. Photographing twins is particularly fun. The photo shoot that I had scheduled for today is rescheduled for next Tuesday because it was raining in the afternoon.

In other good news, we have a returning Date Auction sponsor back on board at the same level. We're almost at our sponsorship goal which is excellent. I still have a long ways to go in recruiting bachelors/ettes, but that is OK- it is early and there is no point in signing people up early just to have the meet someone and drop out when it gets closer. After the 4th July, I'll be going full force on recruiting participants.

In even more good news- I received an email tonight from a producer for a radio show that airs on an NPR affiliate. They are doing a show on stuffed animals and want to have me on! I don't know yet if I will be in their studios or calling in. I love doing radio interviews so much- radio people are always super nice and it is such a fun format. This is good exposure for us and I'm really happy that they reached out to us!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to tidy up my office for a bit, send thank you notes to people who've donated stuffed animals recently and I want to start a mystery that my sister gave me. She always recommends good books for me. I can't remember the title, otherwise I'd let you know! Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Calendar Photos Kick-Off

Greetings friends! I hope everyone is loving this delightful summer weather. Happy official start of summer! I love summer, but I start to get anxious because it means our 2 big fall events are getting closer and closer. So what's new? Well, tomorrow is our first photo shoot for our 2015 calendar. I always like to start calendar photos- I forgot how much fun they are until I start them. We're off to a later start than usual, but that's OK. I have 3 photo shoots scheduled this week, so that's good. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for the rest of the week. I decided to create an email invitation to recruit new families to participate in the calendar. I hadn't done that before, but I really want to include as many children as possible, so figured an email invite would be a good start. I was so happy with the way the email blast came out. It is something that I would want to participate in after seeing the invite. I use Constant Contact for our email blasts. It can be buggy at times, but I really do like it. Their templates are good and they've made some big improvements to their service in recent years.

I seem to have stalled a bit of calendar sponsors, so I need to get back to that tomorrow. I'm waiting to hear from a number of sponsors- I always seem to be waiting to hear from people or following up. Most days, I spend at least a third of the day simply following up with people that I've already reached out to. Following up gets rather tiresome. In my perfect world, people would always respond promptly. I always try to keep in mind that everyone is busy and I'm not always the best about getting back to all the inquires I get for stuffed animal donations- but even keeping that in mind, it does get frustrating to always be spending so much time chasing after people. 

Well friends, there's lots more to write about, but my eyes are hurting and I'm getting tired. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! So what's the latest? Well, we received a $500 donation from the Walmart Foundation today which was very nice. They alternate between donating $500- $1,000 annually. Walmart was our very first corporate donor, all the way back in 2005. So it always makes me extra happy when I see a check from Walmart. I have a vivid memory of how excited I was to get that first $1,000 donation- we had so little then and every day I struggled to figure out how to raise the money to get us going. I was so grateful to have their support.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Leominster to donate stuffed animals, books, coloring books/crayons and some art supplies for children who are living in shelters. I received a letter last week, from Bob- an older Leominster lawyer who I met through Project Smile. I met him many years ago and I don't even remember how anymore. He donates every year to help our efforts. In his letter, he said that there are 200 homeless children living in Leominster. Bob reached out to local churches and is helping coordinate a donation of items for the kids. They have 2 evenings in June that they are going to motels where a large number of children are living and dropping off a variety of nice items for them. Bob reached out to me to see if we could help with some items. I called him yesterday and said we were happy to help. I'm dropping them off tomorrow.

In other news- we're making progress with getting auction items for the Anniversary Celebration. We got some certificates arriving in the mail today. The downside is that I didn't get any commitments from anyone today for items. It always gets a little frustrating when you spend hours working on a task but don't have any results to show for. This job requires a lot of patience.

I've been reaching out to calendar sponsors and we're doing well with getting sponsors to recommit. I started reaching out to families whose children might like to participate- still waiting to hear back from a bunch of people. 

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to get boxes ready for our donation tomorrow and then watch another episode of Veep- one of the best shows on TV- I love it! Until tomorrow friends..


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's shaking? Well, we are chugging along- slow and steady, that's how we roll. I had a phone call yesterday with a potential Date Auction sponsor which went well. They agreed that our event would be perfect fit for their target audience. They didn't commit yet, but hopefully I will hear back soon with some good news. I was feeling like I was very far behind on getting auction items for our Anniversary Celebration, so I've been putting major effort in yesterday and today on getting items. The good news is that I did get a number of commitments from donors for items. A few weeks ago, I applied online for Disney World passes for the live auction. They responded yesterday that they will be sending 4 day passes again, which is excellent. Those are worth almost $500. I want to apply to get more airline tickets donated as well- those are always popular, high value items. I also need to find some more area golf courses that would like to donate.

We're also making progress on the calendar front as well. One of the sponsors that advertises in 2 calendar months said they were back on board again. I also set up a date to calendar photos with them too. I was at one of my monthly networking events last night and spoke with one of our calendar sponsors who quickly agreed to sponsor again, which was great. It always makes me so happy when people are so readily helpful. Today- I contacted a local tourist attraction that donates passes annually for our auction. In the past, I've had to mail a letter along with a stamped envelope and they would send the passes- it's not a big deal, but it is a little extra work. I emailed the marketing director to make sure that he was still handling the donations and to check that I could mail over a letter and stamped envelope. He wrote back almost immediately and said he would mail 2 passes- no need for a letter or envelope. Now this may not sound like a big deal, but when you're spending most of the day auction item hunting, a nice gesture like that means so much.

I accidentally found a website tonight that lists a number of retailers and other companies with direct links to their donation pages and also includes some notes about what the business funds. I was clicking on some of the links and the info looks accurate. I found it when I was looking up airlines that would donate tickets for the auction. It looks like a great find- I'm feeling inspired to get back to applying for donations! Anything that gets one inspired after already spending hours on the same task is rather impressive!

On that note, I'm off to watch game 1 of the NBA finals, eat some more delicious melon and apply online for auction items. Wish me luck! Until next time friends..

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Welcome June!

Welcome to June friends! How is it already June? Ah, how fast everything goes. I'm happy that the warm, sunny weather is finally here and it looks like it will be staying for a while. It's such a pretty time of the year when everything starts to bloom. I feel like I need more time to get prepared for our fall events- they are going to be here before we know it and we still have a long way to go. The good thing is that we're in our usual place- I just like to worry about everything.

We had a very nice Smiling Stiletto fundraiser on Friday night at the new Assembly Row lifestyle center in Somerville. The weather wasn't the best, but we still had a good turnout and raised over $500. Assembly Row did a great job in organizing the event- it was a cocktail mix-off with the bartenders from Assembly Row restaurants competing. Karson from Mix 104.1 hosted the event- he did a great job, especially with the hosting the Best-in-Shoe competition. He co-hosted our Date Auction for a couple of years with Kennedy.

In other news, we have our first sponsor committed for the 2015 calendar. This week, I making serious effort in getting sponsors lined up and start scheduling some photo shoots. I reached out to some other sponsors to get them back on board as well- didn't hear back from them yet. The goal is to be half way done with the calendar by the end of the month- that is usually where we are.

Tomorrow night, I'm off to a women in media and entertainment networking event in Boston. I just the group recently and I'm really looking forward to the event. I've heard that it was a good group. My job isn't exactly in that field, but I work on media outreach all the time, so I want to make more connections in those fields.

Well, that's the latest for tonight- I'm getting tired. I'm off to eat blueberries and yogurt. Summer fruit is starting to emerge and it makes me very happy. I just had some delicious fresh pineapple. I can't wait until I eat my first watermelon of the summer! Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Polly Progress

Greetings friends! So, I'm happy to say that I was Polly Progress today- working on lots of different things and making progress. We received a $500 donation from Unibank- a local bank who has supported us in the past, so that was good news. We also have a sponsor back on board for the Anniversary Celebration. Earlier this month, we had a sponsor who had supported our calendar and event for the past few years decide not to continue their support. They said they were cutting back their budget. That was disappointing, but I don't feel like there is anything that I could have done that would have changed things. In good Date Auction news, we're getting a lot of commitments for restaurant gift certificates for the event 'couples'. I reached out to a Boston marketing company that has been involved with helping get items donated before and asked for their help again. They've been spreading the word to their restaurant clients and 4 places have agreed to donate, which is excellent. Another restaurant group that I do a lot of Meet Up events at is going to donate 3 gift certificates. We were already half way towards getting enough items for the couples to use on their date, so this is a big help. I was reaching out to new potential Date Auction sponsors today- I don't have any news yet. I've also started working on our 2015 calendar- haven't made much progress yet, but will be kicking that more into gear next week.

In other good news, Miss Massachusetts will be a special guest at our 11th Anniversary Celebration on November 7. She has been a part of our event for many years and it is always a pleasure to have her attendance. The title holders are always so outgoing, professional and a nice addition to our event. I had been emailing the pageant director for the past few months and hadn't heard back, so I was a little concerned that she wouldn't be able to attend this year. I emailed again today and the director wrote back to say they were all set to participate. Excellent!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some blueberries and yogurt. I need to make a Market Basket trip and stock up on grapefruit. Blueberries and yogurt are so delicious together and a perfect late night snack. I'm trying to go to bed early- I'm having trouble getting over the west coast time change. It was so much easier in Seattle- I was waking up super early without any difficulty! Until next time friends...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Willing to Learn

Greetings friends! It has been a while since my last blog, but I did have good reason- I was away on an Alaska cruise! It was an amazing vacation- the best I've ever had. The scenery in Alaska is breathtaking. I highly recommend that everyone visit Alaska to get to see the natural beauty in person. I also got to spend a few days in Seattle and that was great too. It is wonderful to have a change of scenery and get to see some new places. I came home feeling energized and ready to make lots of progress with work.

It is so important to keep learning. As we get older, it's not as easy to learn new things, but it is never too late. I frequently find it challenging to learn some new things, but I always keep in mind that no one is born knowing everything. Everyone who is knowledgeable or skilled at something started at zero. I've been noticing lately how reluctant some people are to learning something new. I organize a social group and we meet monthly for a board game night in a Boston bar. We play a variety of games, most are usually simple party games, but some are strategy games that require more attention and thought. They aren't even particularly complicated strategy games. It amazes me how some people aren't interested in learning something new that requires some attention to figure out. Or, they will sit down to play and then give up in a couple of minutes. Other people become critical of the game because they can't figure it out. Now, there are plenty of games that I have trouble understanding, but I don't like to give up and I want to learn how to play. Not wanting to learn, or giving up easily, is a fast way to have a stereotypical old person mentality. It is crucial to keep learning- keep finding new and better ways to do things. You have to keep up with news, keep up with technology, be active in the world and have an open mind.

On that note- I'm off to keep up with emails. I've been researching potential Date Auction sponsors and I have a list that I want to reach out to tomorrow. I also need to get some new Anniversary Celebration sponsors and auction items- I feel behind on both of those fronts. I need to be Polly Progress tomorrow and gets lot done so I can end the month on a productive note. Until tomorrow friends- please send me some good progress vibes my way!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Grants News!

Well friends, I'm happy to announce that we received a $5,000 grant from the TJX Foundation! The Foundation has been supporting our efforts for the past few years. They are one of the largest grants that we receive. It is wonderful to have their support. TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods are the places that I do most of my shopping, so on a personal level it makes me happy that my favorite stores also support the cause that is closest to my heart. I was getting a little worried because I hadn't heard anything from them. They typically send an email, to let you know that you've been approved and asking for supporting documents. I hadn't received the email, so I was concerned that they weren't on board. Last week, I was browsing through my Spam box and there was the email from the Foundation, letting us know that we'd been approved and asking for the supporting documents. What a relief! You can never take it for granted that you're going to get support again- funding priorities change, budgets change- there are so many reasons beyond your control.

In other news, Walter, our photographer, sent over photos from the fashion show. He got some really good ones. Here is one of my favorites- our LK Bennett models.
Here is one with Danielle Vollmar, our host. We somehow managed to wear color coordinated dresses again!
All of the photos are posted on our Smiling Stiletto FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.623231387768874.1073741841.113932798698738&type=3

Well, that's the latest news for tonight. I already ate my grapefruit and caught up on some emails, but I still have so more to get to. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fashion Show Success!

Well friends, I'm happy to announce that our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show last Thursday was a success! We sold out of tickets on Tuesday morning which was awesome. We've sold out all our spring shows in the past, but that is still never a guarantee. I got a lot of emails, calls and texts from people who wanted tickets, so we definitely could have sold a bunch more. The event went smoothly. Copley Place is a beautiful place to host our event and they do a great job getting the retailers on board and taking care of all the details. Students from the New England Art Institute assisted again with all the behind-the-scenes work that happens at a fashion show. The guests loved the fashions- everyone clapped after each model came out which was a first. LK Bennett, Cache, Nine West shoes, Kim's Fashion Design and Soft Surroundings all did gorgeous looks for the models. All of our vendors did an awesome job- Voli Vodka, Runa, GuS Soda, Da Vinci Restaurant, El Pelon, Good Life Kitchen, Making Whoopie, LaCascia's Bakery and Finale- thank you all so much for supporting our event.  A photographer from the Improper Bostonian attended, so we should be having photos in an upcoming issue soon, which is great. Danielle Vollmar from Channel 5 did an excellent job hosting again- she hosted our fall show as well. She has great energy and is a fun host and reliable, which makes a big difference. Walter, our awesome photographer, said that I should be getting the photos at the end of the week- can't wait to share them with everyone!

I'm happy that everything went well. It is a small fundraiser for us- we bring in about $1,900 in profit, but it is more important in terms of raising awareness for Project Smile. It's so important to keep getting our name out there by having fun events and spreading the word about our efforts.

Now that the fashion show is over, I'm back to work full steam on our big fall events. There is still lots more to do and we're already well into the first week of May, so there is no time to be wasting. I need to focus on getting more financial sponsors and definitely still have a long way to go for auction items for the Anniversary Celebration. I feel way behind on that task.

On that note, I'm off to eat my grapefruit and send some more emails. Until tomorrow friends!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Countdown to Show Day

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, we're counting down until our Step into Spring fashion show on Thursday at Copley Place. The best news is that we only have 2 tickets left until we are sold out! That is always so awesome. I always get nervous that tickets aren't going to sell and we're going to be left with 20 models, lots of food and drinks and 10 people in the audience- yikes! The event has always been a success- we've continually sold out, so I shouldn't worry so much, but I can't help it. Ticket sales were moving kind of slowly until the last few days and then they just took off. Boston TweetUp put our event into their email newsletter and I think that really helped because their posting got a lot of retweets. I offered the founder a comp tix to come to the event. He has been really supportive of our efforts and I thought he might like to join us. In other news, the publicist for Copley Place helped get us into the G section for Thursday's Boston Globe which is great. We also have some well known bloggers that are planning to come, so that will help spread the word about Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club which in turn helps promote Project Smile!  I picked up the vodka today, so that is all set. We had a model drop out today, so tomorrow evening, I need to go to a fitting with one of the models who is going to be wearing an additional outfit. Wednesday, I will be picking up the cookies that were generously donated from LaCascia's Bakery in Medford, then I'm heading over to Copley to drop off the items and do a walk-thru. Hopefully, tomorrow we will officially sell out and then we can finalize the guest list.

Well friends, there's lots more to write about, but it's after 1am and I'm off to bed. I already ate my grapefruit! Until tomorrow friends!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Keeping Up

Greetings friends! I hope everyone had a good weekend. It is finally feeling like spring around here which makes me very happy. So what's the latest? Well, I'm trying to work on keeping current with fundraising technology and it is a little challenging. The Virtual Aid Drive that we've been using for online donations for years is not mobile friendly. We have a mobile app being designed for us which is rather awesome- I'm super excited about that. I need  to have a mobile donation platform which can be easily used. PayPal is mobile friendly, so our app can link to that, but it is not visually impressive. The Virtual Aid Drive looks awesome- it is a shopping cart style design and it just makes you want to donate. I called them today to inquire about a mobile version and they said they are working on it, but don't have any idea when it will be ready. That was rather disappointing. Today, I was researching different fundraising platforms which are mobile friendly. I didn't see any that would work for us. There were some sites that don't have any set-up or monthly charges, but I didn't like how they looked. There was one site that looked really good, but it cost $50 per month plus set-up. I want a site that looks as smart at the VAD and is mobile friendly and affordable- it doesn't seem like it should be that difficult. This is the same problem that I had with trying to find a platform for text message donations/outreach. I ended up not going with any company because I couldn't find one that I liked and was a good price for it. I imagine that there must be a lot of non profits that are in the same position. We want to have all the latest in marketing and fundraising, but the cost is prohibitive. As mobile marketing becomes more popular, hopefully the competition will increase and the prices will lower. I wish that Constant Contact which we used for our email and shoe club event promotions would launch a mobile product that we could use for donations. There email sign-up form is mobile friendly which is good. I don't want to sit around and wait until the VAD becomes mobile friendly. Before we had our VAD on our website, the number of online donations we processed was small. After, we launched the shopping cart the online donations increased more than 100%- it was really something. It is important that we have a version that is mobile friendly. So many people are looking at things on their smart phones and if we're not competitive that way, we are missing the boat.

On that note- I'm off to go back and research some more... and eat my grapefruit! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Donation Days

Greetings friends. I hope everyone is enjoying this return to cold weather! So what's new? Well, today I was up in Fitchburg for another donation of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the police department. They are always happy to have our items for children. Here is a photo from today's donation.
Next week, we are donating again to Somerville PD. I received an email today from a small police department in northwest Pennsylvania asking for a donation of stuffed animals and other items for the children they encounter. I'm going to mail a couple of boxes to them tomorrow. I'm always happy to send donations to departments outside of New England. It's awesome when they reach out to us. It's easier too if they are smaller departments, because mailing gets rather expensive.

In other news, things are moving along well for our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser on Thurs., May 1 at Copley Place. Ticket sales are chugging along and fittings have been booked for our models and vendors are in place, so we are in a good position. Miss Massachusetts USA and Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilwoman will be special guests and judges for the Best-in-Shoe competition which is one of the highlights of the event. It's going to be a really fun night. It's the type of event that if I heard about it, I would want to attend. Want to join us? Here is the link for details and tix:
http://www.smilingstiletto.com/events.html


Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on some emails. I also have a grant that I want to work on, but I think I'm getting a little tired. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy Monday

Greetings friends! It is finally starting to feel like spring and I am happy! So what's new? Well, today we did another donation of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the Dept. of Children and Families. I dropped them off at the Boston location as usual and they mail them out to the different offices. I already dropped off a bunch a couple of weeks ago to the Worcester office for their Easter baskets for children. Here is a photo from today's donation.

I finally decided on a new work computer to buy. I've been researching and looking at desktops for the past few weeks and found it really hard to make a decision. My current work computer is a Dell which runs on XP. It is getting really slow and now with XP updates no longer being available, I should get a new computer. I had an HP for many years and replaced it with a refurbished Dell which I really liked. I was online with a Dell rep tonight who was very helpful. I'm going to get a Dell XPS 8700 for $699. I need to call them tomorrow with our PS tax exempt info, then I can place the order. The computer got excellent reviews and is the price range that I wanted. I'll take one more look at things tomorrow just to make sure that is the best one to go with, but I'm feeling good about it. I'm excited to get a new fast computer. I'll need some help in transferring documents over and I also need some time to learn the new 8.1 operating system, but once that gets all figured out, we should be good to go.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I feel like I'm fighting off a bit of a cold, so I'm trying to get to bed early. I already had my grapefruit. Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Welcome April

Greetings- I'm thrilled to announce that we received a $1 million grant today..... happy April Fool's Day! How I wish that could be true! So what's new?  Today, I did another donation to Boston Police. We donated over 250 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. We've been donating to BPD for many years now. It is one of the largest departments that we donate to. We usually donate there every few months. It is hard to keep up with all the departments that participate in our program, especially when you have to make time for fundraising, which takes up a lot of time. Here is a photo from today's donation.
We've been receiving a number of financial donations in honor of David Yates from New Jersey who died recently. He was an avid collector of teddy bears and his family chose Project Smile to receive financial donations in his honor. It is really touching when we receive donations like that. We received a call from a company last week that David used to work with. They are collecting financial donations from employees and will be sending us a check. They asked if we could send stuffed animals to the local police department. I will definitely be reaching out to them. We've had a few memorial donations like this in the past and it always feel like such a honor to receive donations like that.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There's more to write about, but I'm getting tired and heading to bed early. I seem to jinx myself when I say that- since every time I try to intentionally go to bed early, I usually get energized and go to bed at 2am- which is fine until you attempt to roll out of bed at a decent hour. Off I go to eat my grapefruit. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy and Sad News

Greetings friends! Well, these should be happy days this week, but there was some very sad news yesterday. Two Boston firefighters were killed fighting a fire yesterday which was so awful. One of the fire fighters, Mike Kennedy,  was a participant in our 2009 Annual Charity Date Auction. Mike had signed up to participate but wasn't able to attend the event, so he had a life-size cardboard cut-out made of himself in his turnout gear and had a friend drop it off at the event. My sister brought it up onstage and we auctioned him off like that. It was awesome and so funny. My heart goes out to his friends and family and the loved ones of Lt. Walsh who was also killed. We've lost 2 bachelors in the line of duty who have participated in our Date Auction. It really is a reminder of the dangers that police and fire fighters face on a daily basis.

In other news- yesterday, we made a donation to the Worcester office of the Dept. of Children & Families for the Easter Baskets. We donated over 200 crayons, coloring books, books and stuffed animals. We've been providing items for the Easter baskets for the past few years. DCF works hard to provide gifts of Easter baskets for some of the children they work with who are most in need. Here is a photo from yesterday's donation.


We hit a milestone tonight- the earliest time for the first sale of Date Auction tickets! A couple of weeks ago, I created the ticket sales page on Event Brite, then had our web host add it to our Events page. I wasn't expecting to sell tickets yet, but I like to get the things done well ahead of time. I get one hour of free website updates monthly, so I try to use the time in the best way possible. I have to do a lot more updates when the events get closer, so in order to avoid having to pay an extra fee for additional update time, I space things out as much as possible over the months. Tonight, someone purchased 5 tickets for the Date Auction! I was very happy to have sales start so early.

In other positive events news, Miss Massachusetts USA is going to be a special guest at our Step into Spring fashion show at Copley Place on May 1. She will also help judge the Best-in-Shoe competition. I emailed the pageant a couple of days ago and they emailed me tonight. It will be great to have her attendance at the event. I've already added it to our event details page. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to send an email to the models to encourage them to get their friends to buy tickets. Each model has been asked to commit to bringing 4 guests with her when she signed up to participate. We have 24 models, so if they all bring 4 guests that would be most of the event sold.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on a few emails. I just ate some honeydew melon and clementines which were so delicious. There is nothing like delicious fruit. I'm now holding off the urge to go and devour some cheese.... Until next time friends...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday's Marvels

Well, there weren't any marvels today, but I liked the title for our blog. So what's new? Well, this weekend I did silent auctions at Wine and Beer Fest in Boston. Boston Event Guide organizes the event and they've invited us to do a silent auction at the event for the past few years. It's a fun event and it is a nice fundraiser. We raised almost $1,900 for Project Smile which was good. We auction autographed sports photos that I get from a dealer. It doesn't cost us anything to participate and anything that doesn't sell goes back to the dealer, so it is a simple fundraiser. I love events like that- simple and we make a nice amount of money. It is funny how hard it is to predict what items are going to be popular. There were a bunch of things that didn't sell, some that I thought would do well- including some Bruins photos. There was a picture that didn't sell at Wine Fest, but went for $200 at Beer Fest.

Last week, I realized that our brochure needs some urgent updating. I don't use the print brochures very often and hadn't realized that they haven't been updated in over 5 years. Yikes! It's missing our social media links, a QR code and doesn't have the homeless shelter donations info. It also needs news photos and quotes from participants.  I don't know how I managed to let that slip. It's not good to have outdated info. Even though we don't use a lot of print materials, it is still important to have current info. I started working on some updates to send to our designer, but I need to spend some more time figuring out what changes to make and new photos to add before I send it to our designer.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. There were some interesting articles on marketing in the WSJ today that I want to go and read before I get too tired. I need to have my grapefruit too! Until tomorrow friends...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good News

Greetings friends! So what's shaking? Well, in good news- we have a photo booth vendor on board for our Date Auction. It is actually the same vendor who did our event last year- Gregory Polite, owner of Boston Mojo Photo Booth. Greg reached out to me last year and offered his services which was pretty awesome. Photo booths are always popular at events. I reached out to Greg earlier this year about participating in this year's Date Auction, but he thought that he had another event booked. I had put the word out on social media last week looking for a photo booth vendor, but hadn't heard back from anyone. Greg called me this afternoon and said he was available. I was really happy about that. We're going to put his logo on our marketing material and recognize him on our event webpage. Greg did a great job at our event last year- it was a pleasure to have him as part of our event.

In other good news, it looks like we have one more food vendor on board for the Date Auction- an Italian restaurant in the North End. My friend Olga who is also modeling in the show, has a connection with the restaurant and helped get them on board to serve some delicious appetizers.

Tomorrow, I'm going to be sending a box of stuffed animals, books and coloring books out to the Hometown, Illinois police department. One of the corporals emailed me a few days and asked for a donation of items for the children that they encounter. When I first read the email quickly on my phone, I thought that it was a joke- Hometown doesn't sound like it is a real town- it is just too perfect a name. However, it is a real town and it will become our first donation to Illinois. I wish I could deliver them out there in person so I can take a photo in front of the Hometown Police Department. I love it when departments from across the country reach out to us. It is expensive to ship, but I'm always happy to send a few boxes.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and clean up my office- it is starting to look a wee bit like a mini tornado blew through it. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On the Upside

Well friends, I'm happy to say that we have 2 new Date Auction sponsors on board. I found both sponsors through social media. I'm constantly researching and paying attention to companies and businesses that would be good partners for our events. I reached out to two this afternoon and they both promptly jumped on board, which I am very happy about. One of the companies also wants to have one of their bachelor employees participate in the auction. It is great when they get additionally involved like that. In other good news, we now are at the half way point for getting gift certificates donated for the Date Auction couples to use on their date. We're also getting some cool auction items as well for the silent auction.

We're looking for a photo booth vendor for the Date Auction. I posted that on FB today and got a number of recommendations for potential vendors. I emailed all of them today, so hopefully, I'll hear back soon and get a photo booth vendor on board for the event. Social media is such an important tool for getting the word out and finding new supporters. I know it is still relatively new, but I can't imagine promoting Project Smile without it.

What a difference a week makes- last week was a struggle, feeling like I wasn't getting through to donors and not making sufficient progress. It is so important to just buckle down and keep chugging along. Things will always pass. The good days don't last forever, but on the flip side- the rough days don't last forever either. You simply need to hold on, keeping taking those baby steps and things will be fine. I've been doing that for the past 10 years and it's always worked.

On that note friends- I'm off to watch the second Hunger Games movie- I took a break from it so that I could get my blog done before it got too late and I was tired. This movie is awesome, just like the book! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, in good news- we have two more food vendors for our fashion show. Good Life Kitchen- an awesome caterer and cooking school in Norwell is returning as a vendor. They have been involved with our spring show for the past couple of years. A local dessert company, Making Whoopie- which specializes in mini whoopie pies- is on board as well to be a food vendor. I know the owner from a couple of women's networking groups that I'm a member of. I asked one of my friends who is a model and restaurant owner if she could help with getting a restaurant to participate. She called me yesterday and thinks that she has a restaurant that wants to be involved- so that would be awesome. If we get that committed, then we will be all done with food vendors for the spring show. I submitted the event to the Improper Bostonian today, so hopefully they will include us in their calendar when the event gets closer. I'm really excited for the fashion show. It is always a fun time and the type of event that I would definitely enjoy attending, even if I wasn't organizing it.

Here is a photo of 2 children who have nicknamed themselves the Lincoln Minions- they collected a load of stuffed animals for us as part of an extra curricular activity. They look like such cute little kids. It's always awesome when children organize collections for us. We get a lot of school groups that do stuffed animal drives for us.
Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm a hungry little monkey, but I'm trying not eat more. I came home from an event and had a delicious late dinner of barbecue chicken and potato/vege salad. Less than an hour later, I was made myself a half sandwich with cream cheese, roast beef and roasted peppers. Now, I'm ready to go make the other half.... but it's late and I really don't need more food. Instead, I will walk thru the kitchen, bypass the fridge and sort some boxes of stuffed animals that arrived in the mail. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Not the Best of Days

Well friends, I was about to go to bed without blogging, but that didn't seem right. It's already after 12:30, so this should be a quick blog. So what's new? Well, these past few days haven't been the best of days. I've been on the fast train to getting nowhere and I don't like it. I've been focusing on getting auction items, sponsors and vendors and not making any progress. It's hardly anything new, I deal with this all the time, but usually it's not two bad days in a row and I usually can let the rejection roll right off me. Lately, it's been harder. Fundraising is a rough business- you constantly deal with people that are unresponsive or simply don't want to help. For every positive response that you get, there has been at least ten rejections- which includes people that just never get back to you. There is no easy answer- you just keep working and pushing the cause- a lot of it is about sheer persistence. But sometimes it gets discouraging. I reached out to one business today and asked about a gift certificate donation- the woman asked me to email over a donation letter, which I did. An hour later, she responds back that the business isn't going to be doing any more charitable donations this year. I don't understand why she couldn't have just said that on the phone and save me the time of emailing over a personalized donation letter.

I'm not trying to be all whining- every job has it's stresses and difficulties. I've been going through this for 10 years, so I should be used to be it by now. But it's a little like getting a bad cold- you know you don't feel good when you get a cold, but forget exactly how bad it feels until it hits again. The mind has a wonderful way of forgetting. My mom used to tell me that one forgets how bad childbirth pain is- that's what enables one to want to give birth to more children.

Anyways friends, tomorrow I get back to it and keep chugging- because that's what I do. You let the bad days go because the days that are good make it all worth it. Here's hoping for some good days to come and lots (or at least a sufficient amount) of donations! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Welcome March!

Welcome to March friends! Ah, this year is already zooming along. So what's new? Well, yesterday I mailed 2 boxes of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to the Sisseton Police Department in South Dakota. They reached out to us for a donation for the children they encounter who have been in a traumatic situation. Sisseton is the only open Native American reservation in South Dakota. This is our 190th department to and the first in the mid-west, so that is pretty exciting. It would have been fun to be able to deliver them in person, I've never been to the mid-west or on a Native American reservation. 

I've been working on recruiting models for our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser at Copley Place on May 1. Tickets are already selling which is excellent. I put the word out for models yesterday and we're already almost filled. I've asked models to commit to bringing 4 guests with them to the event, so that helps sell tickets. It usually isn't an issue for the model to bring some friends to watch them strut the catwalk for a good cause. I still need to get a couple of more food vendors. 

I submitted a grant application to a large Foundation that has been supporting us for the past few years. We applied for a $5,000 grant, so please keep your fingers crossed for us. We won't hear back for a couple of months. I've been researching some new grant sources, but haven't found anything that is a fit for us. There are are a number of foundations for children's causes that are no longer accepting any applications. Grants are an awesome source of funding and I need to get more. 

Well that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to catch up on emails. I've received a lot of emails about stuffed animal donations and I'm really behind on getting back to people. I also want to keep reading my book- it's an Israeli mystery, The Missing File. I'm enjoying it so much. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Back to Blogging!

Yikes- I think this is the longest that I've gone without blogging- dreadful! I don't even have much of an excuse as to why I haven't blogged- I haven't been on a journey around the world, found a cure to a rare disease or won Powerball. I was sick for almost a week- but that's a lame reason for not blogging. Regardless- I'm back to blogging!

So what's new? Well, I got an email yesterday from a police department in South Dakota asking for a donation of stuffed animals. The department is on the only open Native American reservation in the state. The corporal who emailed said that he was working on implementing new community policing and he thought that they would definitely like to have stuffed animals to give to the children they encounter. I just emailed him back and said we would be happy to send some boxes of stuffed animals for them to give out. It is always great to partner with a new department and this will our first one in South Dakota. It would be fun if I could take a trip out there to deliver them in person!

Last week, I completed one of our annual grant applications for a large retailer. They were our very first corporate donor 10 years ago. Their donation is usually around $1,000. I need to get moving on working on other grants as well.

I wish that I had a part time researcher who can help with looking up potential sponsors and donors. I spend some much time just researching new potential supporters.  Research is critical, so it's not like it's a waste of time, but it is very time consuming. You have to find new companies, then you need to find the contact info- I try to be as specific as possible, so I can get directly to the right person and then you have to reach out to that person. In many cases, you need to follow up a few times as well. When it comes to getting auction items, you also need to make sure that the same person is still in the job before you waste time sending emails to people that no longer work there. It's always so disappointing when a helpful person leaves the position and is replaced by someone who isn't helpful. In my perfect world, helpful donors would not be allowed to ever leave their position!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm happy to be back to blogging- I've missed sharing our updates. I'm off to catch up on last night's episode of True Detective- such an amazing show and eat some pineapple and yogurt. Until tomorrow friends...