Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grant Writing

Ah, grant writing. It is so easy to fall out of the swing of writing grants. I haven't worked on any difficult grants in a little while. The ones that I did in the fall were rather straight forward and simple, so they weren't a ton of work. I did a few brief grant applications already this year, but now I'm working on "the big one". These ones come along on a fairly regular basis, so I should know how to handle it, but I felt so out of it today. This grant asks a lot of detailed questions and will require quite a lot of time. The good thing is that it isn't due until early March. I did quite a lot of it today, but there is still a lot left. I'm also not exactly sure how much I like what I wrote. It might need to be revised. I'm going to keep working on it tomorrow. Since I hadn't worked on these types of grants in a while, it felt like I was working at a much slower pace.

So what else is going on besides my grant doldrums? Quite a bit, except that I am tired and can't remember anything. We got another 16 inches of snow overnight and I ended up spending over an hour shoveling- it was very heavy snow too. By the time I came back in, I was tired and a little sore and it took me a rather long time to get back in the work mode!

Well friends, I am off to eat grapefruit, keep reading my book that I determined to finish before my birthday (next Tuesday) and go to sleep. Until next time..

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Phone Call

I wanted to share a story- yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from a man inquiring about donating stuffed animals. We don't get many phone calls from men regarding stuffed animal donations- the vast majority are from moms donating their children's stuffed animals or helping organize collections. When I picked up the phone, I was totally unprepared for what I would hear. The man explained that he had a collection of Vermont teddy bears that belonged to his wife. She died and he wanted the stuffed animals to go to a good cause. He had researched online and found Project Smile and wanted to send them to us. The pain in his voice was unmistakable, he even started to cry as he talked. His wife had died shortly before Thanksgiving- barely two months ago. She had been diagnosed 3 years ago with advanced breast cancer and it spread to her bones. She was so sick that she ended up in a nursing home at the end of her life. He told me about how someone had nicknamed her a bear and she started collecting teddy bears because of it. It was so heart wrenching to listen to him talk. They had only been married for 6 years- it was his second marriage, her first and he said that he was so lucky to have found her. He told me how he was donated her clothes to an organization helping people in Haiti and he wanted the teddy bears to go to good use. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to him talk- his grief was so raw. We ended up on the phone for a half hour as he talked about her, about the bankruptcy that he is being forced to file because of all the outstanding medical bills and the pain of losing his wife.

It was such a sad phone call, but it was also inspiring in a way- it is a reminder to appreciate the ones that are in our life because it is so easy to lose them. It is also such a sign of support for Project Smile- how people can still be generous even when experiencing such pain and loss. It reminded me of Maureen, the mother who lost her two children to cystic fibrosis. Her daughter had been collecting stuffed animals for Project Smile before she died. After she died, her mom donated the stuffed animals and organized a larger collection for us- such an amazing display of kindness.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. It has been a relatively quiet week so far, but there is always stuff going on- I'm just getting tired and want to read my book some more. I can't renew it anymore at the library and it is now overdue, but I really want to finish it. It is just hard to find the time to read some times. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Events Scheduled

We are getting things lined up for our two big events. Our 5th Annual Charity Date Auction is booked for Friday, September 16 at Gypsy Bar, Boston (same location as usual). Karson and Kennedy are going to be hosting again. I'm so happy about that- they did a phenomenal job last year. I picked a new image from I Stock for our flier and marketing materials. Lisa is updating the flier, once I get that, I can have the new image on our website. I think it is important to use a new graphic for the event every year- it keeps things fresh. I've been reaching out to people who were involved last year. The staffing agency has already committed to sending three staffers to work at our event. The women who came to help last year were great. I've also updated our sponsor package, I'm going to start sending that our shortly. The hunt will start soon for auction items and gift certificates for the date auction couples. It is a little too soon to start recruiting bachelors/ettes to participate.

Our other big event, our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration is booked for Friday, October 21 at the Doubletree Hotel, Milford. That is a few weeks later than we usually do, but there are two holidays that fall on a Friday and the hotel was booked for the Friday before the 21st. I've already started working on getting a speaker. It was funny- yesterday, I went to send a letter to a Boston news anchor that we tried to get last year. I opened last year's letter on the computer and looked at the date- it was exactly one year ago that I mailed the letter last year! I have done that quite a few times with letters that I send every year to various organizations- it will be one year to the day that I send it again and it isn't even something that I think about.

Well, that's the latest tonight. I'm off to eat a grapefruit, then read for a bit- I still haven't finished my novel and I can't renew it again at the library. Until next time..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moving Along

Well, I'm not getting any better with blogging on an almost daily basis- one of my new year's resolutions was to blog more. I used to blog a lot more, then slipped. This year started with some very upsetting personal news and that affected my desire to blog. I was distracted and tired. I can't change the news that I heard and it was a shock, but I am working through it and feeling a lot better. I am ready to get back to my new year's resolution and return to blogging: the way I used to do it!

One of my other new year's resolutions was to network more. At first I wasn't sure how to do that. Obviously, it includes going to more events, but there are so many to choose from it can be hard to decide. This month, I joined the Womens Success Network which meets monthly in Franklin, I think that is going to be a great group. I went to their first dinner and it was a really positive experience. I'm looking forward to making a lot of good connections. I also just took over as director of the Downtown Women's Club Metrowest chapter. It is a womens networking group with different chapters all over the country. I've been attending the Attleboro chapter for years and met a lot of very supportive people. Today, I scheduled my first event- a networking and presentation skills workshop on February 24 with Jacki Rose. I met her a couple of years ago at the Attleboro chapter where she did a great presentation. I want to build this group up and expand the membership and have lots of interesting events. It is wonderful to be in a position where you can help other people build their connections. Naturally, my hope is to also build my connections too and meet people who would like to support Project Smile. I still am doing the usual networking that I've been doing before and I'm also going to be attending other events as well. I'm really excited about the new outreach that I'm doing. For a long time, I've been saying to myself that I need to do more in terms of network and I did do more- but now I'm really taking big steps to making that happen.

I think that is also a sign of how I've grown personally as I've grown Project Smile. When I first started doing this full time- 7 years ago this June, I didn't know a lot about running a business or networking, but as time as gone on and I have grown Project Smile, I have learned so much and I've become a lot better at what I do. There is still so much more to learn, but I really feel that I'm on the right track to have great years of growth for Project Smile coming up. Of course, one of the most important parts of being able to grow PS is to reach out to people and gain new supporters.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I was intending to read my novel that I've been reading for almost two months- I have wanted to read more- there are so many good books out there, but I can't seem to find the time or when I do have the time, I'm too tired. I'm going to make it a goal this year to change that. Until tomorrow friends....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Year in Review

well, I know that we are already a week into the new year and everyone else is well past their 'year in review' reports, but I did want to write about the highlights of 2010. So here we go!

The Project Smile Date Auction and our Anniversary Celebration- they both raised record amounts of money and generated lots of positive feedback. I'm already working on this year's events and it is great to have that energy to build on.

Expanding our calendar to include other children besides police/fire fighters with their kids. We still kept the same format, but it was nice to freshen the calendar up with the addition of children who are not related to police/fire fighters. It also helps broaden the marketing of the calendar.

Expanding to work with homeless shelters- this is something that I want to expand even more this year.

Growing PS to reach more police/fire departments and continuing to replenish the supplies of departments we already work with.

The Santa and Stilettos Shoe Ball- this was a smaller scale fundraiser and required less effort on our part, there is also a lot of growth opportunity. I'm looking forward to being involved this year and hopefully working with Reggie B on other events too.

The couple from Louisiana that sent us the $10 donation after reading about the woman with her credit card fraud- what a kind and generous gesture.

The grants we received this year- including the Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation, 200 Foundation and the Brown Foundation

The wonderful volunteers and other people that I've met this year who support our work.


The woman who lost the airline tickets and pretended that she never received them. I'm still waiting to hear back from our cc processing company about the status of the arbitration.

Losing the support of the CT company that bought our Project Smile boxes for us- although on the upside, our new boxes arrived a couple of days ago and they look phenomenal.

Dealing with people who promise sponsorship/auction items/time and when it comes time to deliver on their promises, they seem to have disappeared from the planet.

Chasing down people to collect on sponsorship money owed and/or people who bid on silent auction items and never pay for them (thankfully we still have the items).

The stress that comes with having so many things to work and trying to divide my time among all the tasks- the Project Smile program, grant writing, event planning, networking, etc. It does get overwhelming at times

Well, those are some of the highlights and lowlights of 2010. It was a great year for Project Smile. I'm excited for what 2011 is going to bring. I'm a little behind on things already this month, I still haven't finished my plan for the year, so I'm going to be working on that tomorrow. Now, I'm off to read- my library book is due in 2 days and I still have another 200 pages to read and I don't think I can renew it again! Until next time friends..