Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Latest and Greatest

So what's new? Today, we did another donation of 300 stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons and reading books to the Dept. of Children and Families for children entering foster care. I love working with DCF, I wish we could do even more. I also dropped off more stuffed animals to the Upton Fire Department. The major focus right now is getting people to attend our Anniversary Celebration. Our email invitation has been sent out, paper invitations mailed, FB invite and LinkedIn invitation all done. I've been asking people to spread the word to their friends and social network to get them to attend. I've worked so hard on getting auction items- we need people there to buy the items. Everyone who comes to the event has a great time- it is a really nice event and we have over 100 auction items, most of them are very affordable. It's an issue of getting the word out and getting people to attend. It gets so stressful. I keep having images of me and 10 guests trying to create bidding wars for 100 items- nightmare situation! I reached out to the balloon company that we always work with to get our balloons ordered for the event. I'll check in with the hotel probably next week to finalize our appetizers. I'm still working on getting in touch with people who have promised auction items but we haven't received them yet. There are about 20 auction items outstanding, actually, I think it is a little more than that. It always takes time to coordinate these last items. Some of the items need to be picked up, others can be mailed or emailed. There are always a few people that promise items but never actually donate them. I've never understood why people do that. If you can't donate, that's fine- just let me know. It gets very frustrating to deal with people who say they will donate- some people say it multiple times over the course of a few months, then disappear when the event gets closer- they don't respond to emails or phone calls. Besides the fact that it is a waste of time sending emails and making follow up calls, it is also annoying because when you organize a fundraiser, you count on the people who commit to helping. When those people don't come through, it leaves you doubly in the hole. The good thing is that the vast majority of people who say they will donate, do in fact, donate. In some cases, it may take a lot of emails/calls from me, but it works out in the end. Well, that's it for tonight. There is more to write about, but my mind is going blank. It's not even midnight yet, but I'm tired. Hopefully, the next time I blog, I can write about all the people that have said they're coming to our Anniversary Celebration- keep your fingers crossed for those emails/phone calls coming in please! Until next time friends...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fashion Show Success

Well, two big events down and one more big one to go. The Fall into Fashion Show presented by Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club was held on Thursday at Copley Place. It was a great event! Lisa Donovan from Matty in the Morning hosted the event and did a great job. She actually hosted our 2nd Annual Date Auction a few years ago. She said such nice things about me and Project Smile when she came onstage. I totally wasn't expecting it. The event raised over $1,800 for Project Smile. One of our shoe club members, Christine, did most of the organizing, which was great. It was a relief to have some else handle the details and planning. She did a very good job. I think she would like to be involved again. Copley Place definitely wants to have the event again. We got a lot of great feedback from guests. Copley Place did very nice gift bags for everyone too. We showcased 6 different designers/stores including Karen Millen, Banana Republic, Bebe, Elie Tahari, Shoe Woo and Tumi. I'll post photos on our Smiling Stiletto page when I get them. Here's a photo of me with Lisa in front of our new sign. My friend Elle designed the new Smiling Stiletto logo. I modeled in the fashion show which is always fun!
Most of the paper invitations for our Project Smile 8th Anniversary Celebration have been mailed out. I sent the Facebook invitation to all my contacts tonight and I've posted it for the Meet Up groups that I'm involved with. Our web host was very quick and got our ticket link up on our Events page and took down all the old Date Auction info, so when people visit the Events page, they get to quickly see the Anniversary info instead of having to scroll down past all the photos of our beautiful bachelors/ettes. I get so stressed out about getting people to attend the Anniversary event. It is such a great event, but it is a lot of work to get people to show up. I need to keep reaching out to people who can help get the word out to their friends and connections. Well friends, there is a lot more to write about, but I'm tired and need to get back to sending a few more emails before I head to bed. Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Well friends- it was a huge success! I can't tell you how happy I am and proud. I wish I could go back and relive the night- now that I know that everything went well, just so I could take it all in again. We raised $17,000 and had a phenomenal attendance. All the hours, the stress, the anxiety- it was all worth it. Karson and Kennedy did another fantastic job as hosts. The Patriots Cheerleaders were great. They interacted with guests for a little while, then they were by the stage and letter onstage, helping to keep the crowd going. The people who were being auctioned off did a great job. Everyone looked great, they interacted with guests during the mingling portion- I couldn't have asked for anything more. I really want to thank everyone who participated and helped make it such a great event- our sponsors, volunteers, donors, participants, guests, Gypsy Bar, photographers. There were so many people that were involved and helped make it a great night. People spent a lot more for the dates than they did last year which is a great sign. Our silent auction items did well too for the most part. We had 3 photographers there and a photographer from Stuff magazine- so hopefully we might get some pictures in the magazine. That would be incredible! I made sure to take time on Friday night to enjoy the event- even though there is always anxiety about making sure that everything keeps running smoothly and there are always small issues to solve. I watched people coming up on stage, looked at the audience which was made up of so many happy people. I looked at Karson and Kennedy, at what a great job they were doing. I looked at my volunteers who were working hard. I thought of how far we've come. I've always had big dreams and big goals, but that doesn't always mean they are going to happen. The Date Auction is a dream come true. When you work so hard for something, when you fight for every dollar raised and every donation received- and when it all culminates in that night of success- it is a feeling of pure happiness, pride and inner peace. Well, on that note, I am off to bed. I was back at work on the Anniversary Celebration today and our Fall into Fashion Show event which is this Thursday. The show completely sold out on Friday which is awesome. I'm modeling in the show on Thursday, so I've been trying watch what I eat, but I came home tonight and totally splurged on the apple pie that my mom had made. It was delicious! Until tomorrow...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Well, here we are- less than 24 hours until our biggest event of the year, our 5th Annual Project Smile Charity Date Auction! I can't believe it is here. Nine months of work and now we're just hours away. I'm excited and nervous. I keep wracking my brain to make sure there is nothing that I've missed. There is so much emotion wrapped up in it too- I've worked so hard, had to keep pushing through all the difficulties of getting things together and now it is finally come together and it is shaping up to be a great night. Our advanced ticket sales have been awesome. Everything is handed that was needed for the event. Vendors have confirmed for tomorrow. Our stage and rental items arrived at Gypsy Bar today. Our hosts have confirmed. No one has dropped out from participating as of yet. There is a ton of pressure for tomorrow- it has been a tough year for fundraising and the date auction is even more important than usual. I can say for certain that I am proud of what I have done to get this event organized. I don't know what else I could have done to make it better. I hope it is a big success- so much time, effort and energy has gone into it. I really appreciate everyone that has participated- from the people being auctioned off, to our sponsors, hosts, venue, volunteers, donors- so many people have a part in making the date auction come together. I want to make sure tomorrow to take a bit of time to look around and enjoy the event- take it all in. It is easy to get so caught up with the action, to stay on top of any issues that could arise- I don't want to miss out on the fun of watching the night unfold. I followed my usual pre-event routine this week of not eating out at least 2 days before our big events. It may sound silly, but I avoid eating out prior to a big event in case of food poisoning. If I absolutely have to eat out, I am really careful about what I eat in order to avoid getting sick. I know that food poisoning is rare, but these events are so important- I don't have anyone to delegate to if I am sick. Tomorrow night, when I get home and after I run my credit cards and unload the car, I'll probably follow my ritual of going down to my local Burger King, getting a hamburger, soda and fries, coming home and sitting in bed, munching away. It's something that started a few years ago when I was starving after the date auction. I go straight home after the event since I have all the money and credit card machine with me. I decided to go down to Burger King after the event- not that I'm even a fan of Burger King, and since then it just became a tradition. It's my post-event unwind and chance to reflect on the night. Well friends, that's it for tonight. Please wish me lots of luck and success tomorrow night. Until next time.. here's hoping for a great event!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Closer!

The countdown and butterflies continue- only 2 days to go! The day started off with a bit of a scare with our credit card machine. The CC machine only gets used a few times a year, mostly at our events. I always get it out a couple of days before the event and plug it in and run my own credit card for a tiny amount- just to make sure everything is working. I was planning on doing it later this afternoon, but a girl called me in the morning about the Date Auction and I told her that she could buy her ticket over the phone. She was going to call back later in the day with her credit card info. I decided that I might as well get the machine out now and plug it in. I plugged it in and instead of popping up with it's usual message, it flashed a bunch of numbers that made no sense to me, then performed a 'self-test' and then reverted back to listing the year as 1/1/2000. I didn't know what the heck was going on and I was ready to panic. A working credit card machine is super important for Friday- to put it mildly. I opened my credit card binder and dialed the help number- all the while suppressing the urge to have a meltdown. The customer service rep helped me to reset the date which got the machine working, but it had reverted to the online mode where it only processes cards when it is plugged into a telephone line. I used the machine in the store and forward mode which means that I can take it to events, swipe credit cards and the data is saved until I plug the machine into a phone line and the cards get processed. For some reason, the technical support department at the cc machine company doesn't believe that my machine has the ability to store/forward the data. I called last year about a relatively minor issue and the girl gave me an argument about it- telling me there was no way the machine could do that. I've had the cc machine since 2007 and that has been the only way it is ever used. . Anyways, the customer service rep keeps telling me the same thing- that my machine doesn't have that capability. I explained to him that I've been using it that way for 4 years. Eventually- mostly through my explaining to him how the machine worked, we were able to get to the point where he could help me reset the machine back to the store/forward mode. I processed two credit cards today and everything went fine. My meltdown was averted! I picked up the programs at Staples- they look great. I also picked up 10 red heart balloons for decorations, I've put our Project Smile stickers on them and they look quite cute. I also got small bills to make change at the event and a few trays of finger sandwiches as well. I've been trying to get as many things done ahead of time as possible, so that all I have to do on Friday morning is print out the updated guest list and load up the car. There are a few more things that I have to do tomorrow. Ticket sales are coming along well. The Yelp newsletter came out today with the Date Auction as the featured event. Here is the link: Well friends, that's it for tonight. I have a major headache- not sure why, I rarely get headaches. I'm going to make it an early night and head to bed soon. Until tomorrow...

3 Days!

Well, the countdown continues- 3 days until the big night! How are things going? I feel like we're in a good place for the Date Auction. Ticket sales are at a good pace. I've been working on getting all the odds and ends together- mostly bid sheets, forms, silent auction promo sheets, entry forms, , extension cords, lamps, nametags- all the little things that need to come with us on Friday. I have my volunteers lined up. I have two people coming with me on Friday to set up which is great. We have 3 staffers coming from the temp agency which helped us last year- they paid for 3 people to work the event. We also have a bunch of other volunteers signed up. Our date auction program is at the printers which is exciting- I always try to get it down well ahead of time, but it always comes down to almost the last minute. I'm waiting for Lisa to send over the next version of our 2012 calendar, it needed a few more small changes, then it should be heading to the printers soon. I spoke to the police officer whose daughters are going to be on the cover- he was so happy! His twin girls have been in the calendar for 6 years now, I'm glad that we could get them on the cover this time. It is a really cute photo of the twins and a little boy holding a stuffed animal. Well, I wish I had exciting news to share. Actually, I'm glad there wasn't a ton of excitement- there was enough drama yesterday to last for a few days. I did actually get commitments from two more Anniversary event sponsors which was good- one is a returning sponsor and the other is a new sponsor. I also followed up on some auction items for the Anniversary Celebration. I've been focusing so much on the date auction recently, I don't want to fall behind on the other big event. I'm off to write my list for tomorrow, try not to eat anymore leftover brownies- I put them in the fridge last night and now they are even more delicious when they are cold! Until tomorrow friends... in the meantime, please keep wishing many more ticket sales for us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Roller Coaster

What a roller coaster of a day! I had a lot of anxiety filled dreams around the date auction last night. In one of the dreams, Karson and Kennedy decided they didn't want to use the stage, they were standing on the dance floor, but no one could see them, then they wanted everyone to sit down, but there were no seats, so people were sitting on the floor. I kept wanting the hosts to use the stage. Then, in the next dream, the Patriots cheerleaders were there, but they weren't wearing their uniforms- the were wearing these rather ugly prom style red dresses. I kept looking at them wondering why they weren't in their uniforms and trying to figure out a way that people were going to recognize who they were. They were not in a good mood because they were tired (I think this was in my dream, because last week when the Pats Cheerleader coordinator called, she said they would be coming from another event). I asked them to wave their pom poms, but they didn't want to because they were tired, but finally they took out their pom poms, but they were only the size of their thumbs. I remember looking at the pom poms and wondering what the point was to have something so small to wave. Before all that, I had forgotten to bring the table covers, so none of the tables had any covers on them. There was definitely a lot of anxiety going on in my head overnight. This morning, I logged into my email account to be greeted from an event sponsor backing out of the event- after they had already committed and their logo was on our marketing materials. I was so upset. Their sponsorship represented a good portion of the money raised to cover the cost of the event. I wrote back to them immediately- explaining that they had already committed, their logo has been on the marketing materials, etc. There were some other emails exchanged throughout the afternoon and finally by the end of the day, things were resolved and their sponsorship was back on track. I was actually in tears this morning. It gets so frustrating when you work so hard, you follow up as one is supposed to, things look like they are on track- then to be greeted with news like that, especially when I was already feeling general anxiety since we're only 4 days away from the event- it was too much this morning. The tears didn't last long, I had my cup of tea and kept plugging along with everything else that needed to get done. I'm very glad that I just didn't accept their email and let it go- it is so important to follow up with people and make a major effort to get things worked out- always in a pleasant and professional manner of course. I had a girl drop out of the date auction this morning as well- it's rather funny because she was the last one we added in after another girl dropped out. It worked out fine because Marie was in the final stages of the program, so we could still switch things out rather easily. I plucked someone off the waiting list to fill her spot. This morning, since I felt I was on a roll to nowhere land- it managed to motivate me to make one last phone call to the person who had committed to sponsoring, but hadn't sent in their info for the program. The person answered the phone and by 7pm, I had my very last date auction ad for the program! We also sold a bunch of tickets for the date auction and fashion show, so by the end of the day, I was back on the upside of the roller coaster. Honestly though, it was an exhausting day. It gets very tiring dealing with the ups and downs and the issues that arise and fixing problems that one didn't think was going to be a problem in the first place. I'm glad that things got sorted out. Tomorrow, our program will head to Staples for printing and that will be one more huge thing out of the way. Only 4 days to the big night- I can't believe it! Based on my dream, I took the table covers that I bought for the date auction out of my car. I'm probably not bringing my car on Friday, so there is no reason to keep them in there and possibly forget them. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to proof the program once more, eat some cantaloupe, I already had some brownies that I made tonight (there was a recipe for them in Cooking Light which I just had to try- they were very good), then read for a bit and relax. Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Closer!

Yes folks, we are still on the date auction countdown. We're on the fashion show countdown too. Since the email blast went out to our Smiling Stiletto members, tickets can have taken off like wildfire for the show which is great. We are exactly two weeks away from the fashion show and almost a week away from the date auction. I get a nervous knot in my stomach just thinking it. I know there really isn't an reason for the anxiety attack- we are in a really good place for the event. I'm still waiting on a couple of ads for the program. One of the sponsors emailed me today that she is no longer handling our region, so she referred me to someone else who I had actually already communicated with before. I emailed the other person, but didn't get a response. I figured she must have been really busy, particularly if she is handling an extra marketing territory. I still haven't heard from the other sponsor that I mentioned last night- I don't know what is going on and I don't know what else I can do. I'm going to send one more email, hopefully that will get a response. I picked up the sports items today from the dealer. They look really good. I'm not much of a hockey fan, but the Bruins pictures are really cool. There is one team shot in particular which is terrific. I dashed up to Boston after picking up the items to pick up one more gift certificate for dinner at No Name restaurant. They have donated to our event for the past few years. Their seafood is delicious. I still have another gift certificate that was promised, but hasn't arrived yet. I sent a follow up email a few weeks ago and another one today. It always happens that people promise donations but don't end up actually submitting them- even with pleasant follow up emails/calls. It is disappointing when that happens and I don't understand it. If people can't help, then it is easier for everyone involved just to say you can't do it. If you say you can help and then disappear when it comes time to actually donate the item or sponsor- then that is a very frustrating experience and a giant waste of time. I submitted my list of bachelors in order with their profiles to our designer who is donating her time. I'm still waiting for hopefully one more fire fighter who will be participating, but even if we don't get any more fire fighters, we are still good. I sent an email to all the bachelors/ettes today with event details for the date auction. It was a rather long email, but I think it is best to be specific- that way everyone knows exactly what they need to do during the event and how everything works. I even added "please read" to the subject line- I really wanted to make sure that everyone reads the email so they know what to expect for the date auction. I've been sending the same email for the past 3 years and I think it is beneficial- because come event night, none of the bachelors/ettes has ever come up to me asking how things worked! Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to eat some grapes (I have a super sweet bunch of grapes sitting in the fridge), read for a bit and watch some TV and hopefully get to bed earlier. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9 Days, Oh My!

Well friends- the countdown is on! Only 9 days to the Date Auction! Can you imagine? Nine months of work and now we are only nine days away from the big night. It seems a little surreal, even though I've been here four times before. Things are looking good, although I'm still waiting for info from some of the fire fighters and I have one sponsor who has not responded to my emails/phone calls, so I'm not sure what is going on there. Ticket sales are moving along really well which I'm very happy about. Our Stuff magazine ad came out yesterday, it looks good. The big email from Boston Event Guide goes out tomorrow, so that should hopefully push ticket sales even more. The Yelp newsletter which features the date auction goes out next Tuesday. Tomorrow, I have a networking lunch with my DWC Metro West group that I organize, then I'm heading to Braintree to pick up the sports memorabilia for the silent auction at the date auction, then heading to Boston to pick up a gift certificate for the date auction. I also need to send an email with event details and updates to the people being auctioned off. We only have a small silent auction at the date auction, but it is a good one. We have Spirit Airline tickets, Vidal Sassoon salon gift certificate and some other ones for restaurants, chiropractor and other outings. We have 7 autographed pictures- an assortment of Bruins items (which should be really popular), Red Sox and a Celtics Rondo picture. I get so nervous about the events. There is so much time and effort that goes into planning, so it needs to be worthwhile. The date auction has proven that its worthwhile, so that's not up for debate, but I get anxious about being able to repeat the success and keep it growing. There is a lot of pressure on this event and the anniversary celebration, especially since we have received less support this year from grants. So what else is going on besides event work? We're in the proofing stage of our 2012 calendar. The first round of edits is done andnow all the ads have been submitted. Lisa sent me a new proof this afternoon. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. I narrowed downt he cover picture to two photos- one of a little boy- and another of twin girls and a little boy. Before I saw the cover mock ups, I was almost convinced that I would go with the baby boy photo- it is absolutely dazzling in color. The cover photo (our calendar prints black/white) l looked good, but it wasn't as powerful as the color version. I think this is the first time that I've found such a difference between the color and black/white versions. I love black/white photos too. I would like to get that photo enlarged and framed- the baby is beautiful and the photo just came out perfectly. There are a couple of other photos from the calendar that I've fallen in love with over the years. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm going to take a break for a bit- finish reading The Help (loved it), watch TV for a bit and eat some grapes- ah, the excitement! I went to the WSN networking meeting tonight- it was my first time in my new role as ambassador coordinator. It was a good meeting. I'm enjoying my new role, I feel like I need more time to get used to it, but that is natural with anything new. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome September!

Well, here we are- the first day of September! Only 2 weeks and one day to our date auction- oh my! We sold more tickets today and our first email blast went out to the PS database. The BEG newsletter went out today and they included our event in the subject line of their email which was excellent. The ads that I have went on the website today- I submitted them this afternoon and our web guy did it immediately, even though I didn't list it as a priority job, that was very nice of him. So, I started work this morning and barely 10 minutes in- I hadn't even exercised yet- my computer loses its internet connection. Now, if you have been following my posts this week, you know that I've been working at McDonald's for the past few days because Comcast was out of commission. The last thing that I wanted this morning was to get booted off the internet. I tried to get on with my laptop, but that wasn't happening either. I had Marissa, the new volunteer coming in an hour and a half. I frantically called the techie genius who has a local business fixing computers, but no one was in yet- they do service calls in the morning and usually come in around lunch time. I had a mini meltdown. The computer in another room could get online, so I could use that one, but that didn't have any of my work documents on it. The good news is that my computer genius, aka Dick, came over by 3pm and got me back up and running. He is so nice- he is so back logged with work and people needing help with their computers, but he made a special effort to get over here immediately. I couldn't thank him enough. Things actually ended up working out well, because while fixing my computer, he found an unrelated issue that if left unfixed, could lead to the whole computer burning out- so it was a blessing in disguise that I got booted off the internet! It really makes such a difference when people really make an effort to be helpful. I feel like I spend so much time chasing after people and trying to get their support for things- it makes such a difference when someone comes through immediately. I really am grateful. Things worked out great with Marissa today. Even though we didn't have the internet, she worked on a bunch of other things related to the date auction. She is going to start coming two days a week starting next Tuesday. It really makes a difference having the help. Thigns were a little discombobulated today, so it wasn't the best day to start working here, but it worked out. Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm getting tired- I feel like it has been an exhausting week. My last calendar photo shoot is Sunday in Weston which I'm excited for. I'm off to write my list, not eat anymore- I already polished off the remainder of the cantaloupe and just had some grapes, cheddar cheese and Pretzel Crisps- so delicious! Until next time friends... Happy Labor Day weekend to all!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye August

Well, I am very happy to announce that my temporary office at McDonald's has been disbanded. I am happily back to my normal work situation and nighttime blogging in bed! I do have to say that my local McDonald's was very helpful- they had fast wi-fi, relatively comfy booths and a couple of plugs and was only 2 minutes from home- it was as good a situation as I could have asked for. Their dining room is even open until 1am, so if I was a truly dedicated blogger, I could have whipped my laptop down there at midnight and blogged away last night. Since I couldn't watch television last night, I went on a cleaning spree in my office. It is looking a lot better, but I'm not sure if a random stranger who never saw the 'before' version would agree! Tomorrow, I have a recent college graduate coming to help which I am happy about. She is going to work on a variety of tasks- including the date auction. If things go well, which I'm expecting they will, I will talk to her about coming to work more than one day a week. Things have worked out so well with the recent grads that have been involved with Project Smile- they were the best helpers we ever had. Ticket sales are going strong for the date auction which is good news. Tomorrow, the email invitation to our PS database will go out. We include photos of 21 of our bachelors/ettes in the email invitation. There isn't enough room to put all the photos on the email. It's hard to choose which pictures to include, since we auction about 40 people. I choose 11 girls and 10 guys to feature. I try to show the diversity of the group and I have to use the sharpest pictures as well. Hopefully, the people open the invite, then go on our website to look at more pictures and get their tickets. I emailed the Globe today to inquire about getting more coverage for the event. We are already posted on Boston.Com, but for the last couple of years, the Globe has given coverage to the event which has been awesome. Our big email blast with Boston Event Guide goes out next Thursday and the Yelp newsletter is the following week. I feel like we are in a good place with the event and I'm really happy that I was able to save some significant money for the event and we have a great group of people being auctioned and we have the Patriots Cheerleaders attending and great hosts again AND the Sofft Shoes promo. So it really is shaping up to be a very successful event. Al that said, the anxiety level is tremendous. I get so anxious about having a disaster on my hands. I think that's a good thing to a certain extent because it keeps you on your toes and makes you work really hard to avoid potential problems. Even though this is our 5th event , it doesn't make it any less anxiety ridden. We also have Fall into Fashion Show coming up the following week, 9/22. Next week, I will send out the email to the Smiling Stiletto members and get it posted to my social groups. Tickets are selling steadily for that, especially considering it is 3 weeks away. Well friends, I am off to bed. I was going to go back and do more work, but I already caught up on a few things when I got home and now I'm just going to enjoy watching TV for the first time in 4 days and I think I'll have some cantaloupe too and write my list of course. Until tomorrow... I'm still waiting on some more ads for the date auction program. I've been emailing the people that I need the ads from, so hopefully they