Every well run fundraiser is well planned. Sometime in September the lights stay on for late Wednesday evening meetings at the MEND center on San Fernando.
I have never been a “lady who lunches”, instead I am a “lady who grabs my kid from daycare, zooms through McDonald’s and rushes up a flight of stairs to kiss 25 faces before sitting down and starting kindergarten homework while the meeting starts”. It is not glamorous, or well executed, but it is how I roll.
How the Committee works
Despite how I perform as a Gala member, everyone else comes with pens and notepads and ideas. We have been doing this for seven years and tiny factions have formed. People gravitate to tasks like solicitation, public relations, auction items and volunteer recruitment the ways that bees pollinate their favorite flowers.
Bigger issues such as ticket prices, Board Member engagement, entertainment, production features and suggestions for growth are openly and freely debated. There are laughs and sometimes there is wine.
Starting in December the meetings go from monthly to weekly. We say MEND’s mission statement, discuss dollars, order favors (thanks Aimee who hated me in highschool but comes through for MEND and me every year at AB_Unlimited), bond over our love of Mr. Urbano from Universal Studios and get ready for the big event.
The day before the Gala we load up a large truck with supplies and I pretend that I know how to create lovely silent auction baskets while my daughter plays with the COO’s kid. MEND is a family friendly affair for staff and volunteers alike on the weekends.
By 11 am on Gala day the committee is assembling table decorations, setting everything up, wandering around in curlers and eventually laughing in the ladies room as we fix zippers, share lipstick and discuss slips and shoes. (I gave my shoes to my friend Tarry who used to be a MEND employee and now volunteers.) We are our own special sorority. Sometimes silly, always serious about our goal.
Where does the money go?
This is the only big fundraiser MEND has all year. MEND’S budget has two great needs: homeless services and Medical Dispensing. MEND has a great Diabetic program with specialized food boxes, nursing, education and blood testing & Insulin. Insulin saves lives and it is hard for us to put a price-tag on it – but the manufacturers have managed to do that and MEND pays so that we can give the medication to clients in need.
Thank you Heritage Provider Network and other generous donors.
The funds raised at the GALA are the operations budget, the orphaned program funds for homeless services, showers, the Diabetic program and all the wonderful and needed programs that are not glamorous enough to attract other directed donations. Sure, there is food and music, and a great show on television combined with an awesome MC from ABC7 each year (This year we had Sid Garcia; in previous years Danny Romero served) .
As committee members we are COMMITTED members to supporting this oasis of help in a desert of need.
How do we know if we have done our job well?
This is what happens when an Analyst is your Committee Chairperson.
If you look in the window you can see a reflection of a computer spreadsheet that is being projected from the television. She is walking us through comparisons to previous years and taking notes. We are always giving feedback.
My youngest daughter has been on the committee for the past six years, and she has made some lifelong (6 years that is) friendships and connections that only enforce my love for MEND. The people behind the scenes are as passionately in love with the goals as the staff and day to day volunteers. Now we go through the long hiatus of waiting for Fall to begin again.
While we wait, think about joining us. We have food, and the occasional cookie, and so much fuzzy fun. If there is something you want to donate to our auctions, let me know because it is tax deductible.