Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good Days

Our Project Smile/Smiling Stiletto back drop is now no longer a dream- I picked it up today at Staples! It looks beautiful- the design is perfect and the print job is perfect. It is so big, it takes two people to set it up- it is 8ft x 8ft., it needs to be that size though so it looks good in photos and people don't have to cram into the picture. We set it up at Staples and I learned how to do it myself. I wanted to sit and just stare at it for ages, which is pretty had to do when you're standing in the middle of the Staples print center in front of a massive 8ft. backdrop. It is amazing to think that it was only a year ago that I took over the shoe club and how perfectly it fits into Project Smile and helps Project Smile grow as well.

Here is a photo from today. I have known Donna (she's in the photo with me), the manager at the Watertown Staples since she helped get my very first PS business cards printed. She is so helpful and pleasant to work with that I go to her when I have important jobs to do instead of my local Staples. She was really happy with the back drop too.

In other good news, I reached out yesterday to one of our Date Auction sponsors and they are back on board to sponsor and they have actually increased their sponsorship to the platinum level! Needless to say, I was extremely happy about that. It is always a pleasure to work with this company and it's awesome that they have increased their sponsorship. This puts me almost half way to our sponsorship goal which is excellent, especially since we have 8 months until the big night.  I've been working on applying for our airline ticket donations already too.  One of our big media sponsors is back on board for a sponsorship trade for the Date Auction too. Things are moving along well on that front.

Tomorrow, I will be turning 32 and that of course makes me feel a little reflective. It's crazy to think how fast things have moved over the years. All I can say is that I'm in a good place and in the end, that's all that matters. There are always things that could be better, but the brightness in my life is so much stronger than the stressful things. I've grown a lot over the years and Project Smile has grown with me. I've met a lot of people over the years- a lot who were wonderful and helpful and of course, many who were not. The best thing is that the unhelpful people fade away and when I look back, I remember all the good things and great people that I've met and I am so grateful for that. Our time here is so fleeting, the only way to live is to hold onto the good things. So on that note, tomorrow I will celebrate my first day as a 32 year old woman- things keep getting better every year, so I am excited for all the good things that are going to happen.

Now, I'm off to eat some chocolate (an early birthday celebration) and perhaps my grapefruit-  I'm not sure if that goes with chocolate. Ah, the hard decisions I have to make! Until next time friends...

Friday, January 27, 2012


So what happened today? I had to take some time today to do some of my volunteer work- I work as a court appointed special advocate for a child who is under the care of DCF.  I went to visit the child at her daycare center today. I love doing the work- it is interesting and I feel like I can hopefully make a difference in this little girl's life. She lives locally which is good, so I don't have to travel very far. It isn't a ton of time that I have to spend, but it did take time away from getting my own work done today.

Tonight, I spoke to the Franklin Rotary Club to update them on Project Smile. They have been making an annual $250 donation for the past 4 years and I usually visit every year to say thank you and update them on how things are going. I also bring some of our calendars to give away to the members. It is so nice how much the members like our calendar! I really enjoyed speaking to the Club- they are very friendly and I felt like I was pulling off their energy when I spoke. I love speaking about PS and tonight I felt really on my game when I spoke. It is always good to talk about PS, but some times certain speeches go better than others. I was seated next to three local bankers for dinner and they were encouraging me to apply for their bank's charitable foundation grant. It seems like we would be the perfect fit for what they like to fund, so I'm definitely going to apply. It is so important to keep getting out and attending social and networking events, you really never know who you are going to meet. I don't have a marketing team, so I need to make sure that I'm getting out there and reaching people.

Here is a photo from Monday's donation to the Dept. of Children and Families. We donated over 350 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons for kids entering foster care. We had to do the photo outside because there is nowhere to park legally to unload. I have to park in a bus stop and wait for the ladies to come down and help unload.

 Well, there is more to blog about, but I'm getting tired and need to sleep. I won't say that I'm going to bed early because I told myself that last night and didn't go to bed until 2am. My grapefruit is cut and sitting right next to me, so I'm off to enjoy that and write my list for tomorrow- except, I can't remember what actually needs go on the list! Until next time friends... (I promise to be more exciting in my blogging adventures)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Latest and Greatest

So what's the latest? Nothing! Well, that's not true. Things are moving along steadily- although, the days seem to move very quickly and I don't get everything done- that is hardly anything new. I had quite a few things that I was going to get done tonight, I did a couple, but didn't get to grant writing or doing our newsletter. Grant writing requires a lot of energy and I'm too tired tonight to work on it. I just submitted our website scrolling updates about a half hour ago and I already got an automated email from the web host letting me know that the updates had been done. That was an amazingly fast turn around. They usually do things promptly, but never within a half hour. It is so important to keep websites updated. There really is little worse than looking at sites that have outdated info on it, it looks so unprofessional. There are some other changes that I'd like to do on our site, but I make it a priority to keep the info and photos as fresh as possible.

I had a meeting with Copley Place on Monday for the fashion show fundraiser that we're doing on April 19 with the Smiling Stiletto Shoe Club that I run. The meeting went well- things are looking good for the event.  The DJ who did our fall event just signed on to perform at our spring show, so that is one more thing taken care of.

In other news- I narrowed down the image for our Anniversary Celebration to two choices- one is very similar to last year's image (a single birthday teddy bear) and the other one has 4 small bears in a row each holding a white sign that spells out: Happy 9th Anniversary Project Smile. It took me a very long time to select two images- there are about a million Istock images with teddy bears, but very few that fit into our event. I think that I'm going to go with the 4 bears image. The other one is brighter and a great image, but it is too close to last year's look- I need to mix things up and keep it fresh. I'm going to talk with Lisa and see if she can play with the colors a bit more and brighten this image a little. It may sound trivial to spend so much time on an image, but these little details are so important. You have to send the right message with the image and you want something that is going to help get people in the door. I love the new image for the date auction- so glad that is all set. You can go on our events page now and check it out- the details for this year's event are already up, along with the new sponsor packet- www.projectsmile.org/events.htm

Tomorrow, I'm meeting with Nancy at California Closets- they host our Smiling Stiletto ladies night and opportunity drawing to benefit Project Smile. They donated a $2,500 gift certificate last year which was so generous. I'm working on getting more vendors involved for that event so we can bring in even more. It is the month after the fashion show, so we will be riding the good buzz from that event which should help increase attendance at this event even more.

Here is a photo from our donation last week to Boston PD- we donated over 300 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. Boston is a very large department, so we now donate to them every other month. Yesterday, I did another donation to the Dept. of Children and Families- I have a photo from that donation that I'll add soon. There are so many other departments that I need to follow up. I wish that I had an intern that could help with that- it really would make a difference.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit- I stocked up at Market Basket today. I don't know how much longer the grapefruit season lasts- I feel like it's coming to an end soon and then I'll have to switch to munching on crackers and cheese (just kidding- trying to keep it healthy and avoid late night eating unless it's fruit). Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Events Underway

Well, I almost didn't blog tonight- I'm actually trying to get to bed early (I fail miserably at those attempts), so I was going to skip blogging. I felt guilty because I haven't blogged this week and I didn't want to disappoint the thousands of people who faithfully read my fascinating posts over their morning coffee (OK, I may not exactly have thousands of readers). I also enjoy blogging- it a nice way to unwind and actually think back on what happened during the day.

I've been doing a lot of work getting things set up for our upcoming big events. I hate working under pressure, so I really make a huge effort to get things done as early as possible. It is much easier to get things done now instead of scrambling when you really need things. Our date auction sponsor pack is done along with the new flier recruiting singles to be auctioned. I submitted the updates to our web host, so the new info should be on our site in a couple of days. I'm also going to get our Anniversary Celebration info all ready to go. It worked out perfectly having the sponsor packet already done because I was at a social event last night in Boston and met a representative from a huge company that would be a perfect fit as a sponsor for our date auction. We chatted at the event and I emailed her the info today. The packet just got finalized yesterday, so I was so happy that I didn't have to rush home and send Lisa an emergency email to get the updates done. I've also reached out to some other vendors who were at last year's event to invite them back. I also started working on getting gift certificates and auction items donated.

Our Step into Spring fashion show at Copley is shaping up to be awesome. Finale just came on board to provide desserts for the guests! Along with the other vendors that already committed, we have a brewery which is close to committing and Michelle, our board member, who launched a cupcake business will be doing her delicious cupcakes again. Copley handles getting all the stores involved and coordinating the models. I wrote the email tonight recruiting models from our Smiling Stiletto shoe club members. It will go out in the morning. I'm really excited for this event.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Boston Police to do another donation of stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons. I scheduled another donation to DCF for Monday. Hopefully, I'll get to do a photo from tomorrow's donation.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and write my list- the only problem is that I'm tired and I can't think of what needs to go on tomorrow's list besides donating to Boston PD and picking up more PS boxes. There is definitely more that needs to be accomplished. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday's Findings

So what happened today? Nothing! Well, that's not true. Things are moving along. We had our donation of over 200 stuffed animals, books and coloring books/crayons to Worcester PD. We've been working with Worcester PD since Project Smile first started.

Bulldog Gin is the official hard liquor sponsor for our upcoming spring fashion show. I also connected with a local brewery which is really interested in being involved with the event too. I've been reaching out to wine companies as well, I don't have any commitments yet for that. I think it would be great to offer guests complimentary cocktail, wine and beer. I also reached out to a dessert company today. Christine is going to help get a chocolate vendor. Popchips are coming to the event as well to give samples of their awesome chips. I really want the event to have a great selection of food/drinks. We had great buzz going from the fall event, so we need to keep kicking it up.

Our backdrop is heading to the printer most likely tomorrow. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to see it. I hope we got the sizing of the logos right- the back drop is 8ft x 8ft and I'm working from an 8.5 x 11 page when I see the proof. It only takes ten days, so we will have it in plenty of time for our Feb. 9 Smiling Stiletto event.

It turns out that the grant I thought was due on January 31 isn't due until April 30, so that gives me plenty of time. I want to get it submitted this month. It isn't very complicated and there is no reason to delay. I wanted to work on it today, but I spent a lot more time reaching out to event vendors that I originally intended. It takes a lot of time to research vendors, contact them, fill out forms, etc.

I chose the new image for our Date Auction event flier/marketing- I spent well over an hour the other night browsing through Istock images. There are thousands of images to choose from, but it was really hard to choose the right image. There is so much that goes into it- the right age of the people in the image, the right look- not too sexy, not too boring, not a dancing image (there were a ton of those), the right background, not too romantic, something that would appeal to men and women- fun, engaging. We usually do an image of a couple, but the one I choose is a small group image with very good looking (but not overly good looking guys/girls). Lisa, our designer, gets the image and formats it into the event flier. It should be on our website next week.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to bed- I haven't gone food shopping, so I don't have any grapefruits! I did have a couple of clementines, but they were kind of dry and not so great. I watched Moneyball tonight with Brad Pitt and loved it. I definitely recommend it. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Polly Progress

Well, Polly Progress is off to a good start this year. I've started work on our date auction and our spring fashion show. We already have a special guest for the fashion show which is exciting and we're lining up a liquor sponsor.  I'm having a back drop made which will have the PS and Smiling Stiletto logos on them. We will use the back drop at our events throughout the year. Guests get to stop in front of the back drop and have their photo taken- just like a red carpet event! It is a very good marketing tool and it really adds to our events.

I've been working with Staples on the back drop, but was having trouble with getting a proper design for it. The two logos are very different and it can be hard to get them to coexist in a way that looks attractive. Monday night, I had a dream and in the dream, I saw our back-drop. It looked beautiful. I woke up in the morning and knew exactly how it should look.  We went through a couple of more proofs and this afternoon, we got the alignment perfect- it looks just like it did in my dream. This isn't the first time that my dreams have brought clarity to an issue. Sometimes, before big events, I'll have a dream about the event and I can see any issues or things that I need to take care of.

I went to a networking event in Attleboro. I haven't been to one of this group's networking nights in a while. It is a group that I've made a lot of great contacts at. I was tired and didn't feel like going out, but I had committed to going, so I pushed myself out the door. I ended up winning the raffle prize which was great and I made some connections and saw people that I hadn't seen in a while. In the end, I was really glad that I went. It is so important to attend the events that you sign up and really commit to networking. You never know when you're going to make the connections that matter.

Tomorrow, I'm doing another donation to Worcester PD. I also need to get our sponsor packet updates over to Lisa so we can get our new date auction and anniversary celebration packets together and start recruiting sponsors. I also have to go through I-Stock and choose our new image for the date auction marketing. I want to get the new image on our site soon. It seems like it should be a quick thing to choose a new image, but it actually takes a while. I have a meeting to attend tomorrow for some volunteer work that I'm doing, so I was planning to get those things done tonight, but now I'm getting tired.

I also have a grant to work on that I haven't even started- it's due by the end of the month. Ah, so many things to work on! On that note, I'm off to eat my grapefruit- I need to go shopping for some more grapefruits. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Year in Review

Happy 2012! I know that we are now 4 days into the new year, so I'm pretty late on my annual year in review, but here it goes:

The biggest highlights of 2011 were the Date Auction and our Anniversary Celebration. The Date Auction raised a record amount of money and had fabulous attendance and great feedback- bonus: we got a ton of great photos and even a little video from the event. The Anniversary Celebration was also a success. I worked really hard on both of those events, it is so exhilarating when they turn out well.

Another big highlight was taking over the Shoe Club and rebranding it to Smiling Stiletto and having it help raise funds and awareness for Project Smile. The Fall into Fashion show was a great event- Christine, a shoe club member, did most of the work and everyone loved it. I'm really looking forward to our spring and fall shows this year.

Working with our police and fire departments, along with shelters and DCF is always a highlight. It is the whole point of why Project Smile exists and it always makes me happy when we do our donations. Thanks to the support from the Milford National Bank, we were able to do some special donations of stuffed animals to local nursing homes right before Christmas. That was definitely a highlight for me.

The grants that we received from the TJX Foundation, DCU, Brown Foundation and 200 Foundation were all highlights.

One of my goals at the start of 2011 was to do more networking. In January, I joined the Women's Success Network and the fall, I became their ambassador coordinator. It has been a very positive experience and a great networking opportunity. I particularly like being on the board, it's always a good thing to be more involved.

One of the biggest highlights came just last week with the $10,000 surprise grant! It ended the year on the best possible note and has really made me excited for all the good things to come this year.  My last highlight of the year is the people that help us. We wouldn't be here for the generous people that support our work and help us grow.

Of course there were low lights- the year itself started off on a personal low light, but in the end it was another great year, so there's not much point in remembering the low light. There will always be difficult people, rude people and unresponsive/unhelpful people- but those aren't the ones that there is any reason to remember. They fade into the black hole of the forgotten. Instead, when I look back at 2011, I remember all the good things and great people that kept our upswing going and propelled us into a positive start for 2012. Thank you!

On that note, I'm off to eat my grapefruit, write my list for tomorrow and head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...