I can now breathe. Our one fundraiser per year is now done. It was a smashing success… thanks to the support that the Young Women receive each year from our ward family. So many people volunteered to cook the food we provided, serve in the kitchen, and provide items for auction. (I really love you all.) It is amazing to me how many people show up to pay for a spaghetti dinner being served by young women ranging in ages from 12-18. This less-than-gourmet meal, served by an untrained staff, ends up being a recipe for one of the most fun nights of the year.
The lost sleep wondering what else could be done to prepare, was worth it for me when receiving so many compliments for pulling off a great night. I cannot take full credit because much of the success is due to my Visiting Teaching sister, Michele. Visiting her one day in February, she mentioned that her husband would be happy to DJ a dance for adults. I did not realize that Carl is a man after my own husband’s heart. He has cables, speakers, adapters, microphones, stands, a mirror ball, lights, inputs and outputs… he’s got everything (sing in voice of the Little Mermaid). It took him two hours to set up equipment that took two vehicles to transport. He brought lights from home to light up the auction table, a floor lamp to add ambience and channel the restaurant feel to the Cultural Hall, and a screen and projector that was set up in a another room for the children to watch the movie Tangled. (It was relayed to me later how my daughter and other little girls her age, held chins in hands while lined up on their tummies side by side with eyes fixed on the princess Rapunzel wielding her frying pan on the screen. Too cute!) He also brought a monitor and Wii so that families could play Just Dance between song selections. It added a multi-interactive party element to the whole night.
Brother Stew’s willingness to do all these things touched my heart. It was an act of service showing the love he has for his art, his wife, and through his wife, me. I could not help but reflect on my island heritage of Guam when dancing the Cha-Cha with my husband to a popular Chamorro song. Carl and Michele danced alongside us and their stamina and grace surpassed ours. I’ve received many compliments on Carl’s excellent voice and I experienced his ability to use humor to grab the attention of a large room full of people.
The room was not big enough to receive all those who came. We had to set up a few more tables on the “dance floor”. Some families were turned away because we were full to bursting. After only an hour of opening, we ran out of spaghetti sauce. At this time, I believe my family was the only one that ate their noodles with just butter. I hope they were, anyway. This is true for most of the young women, as well. I heard that some of them ate dessert, but I don’t think any of them ate dinner. I think this is a sacrifice that they should be willing to make in order to receive the funds they did to help them go to camp. I suppose in the future, they should be told to eat something before they come OR serve themselves a plate when serving their families and then eat it when their tables are all served.
The youngest member of the group, who is not yet in YW, but will be by the time we go to camp, not only showed up to help, but didn’t stop. I ran out of things to tell her to do. She’s my MVP. I have a gift for her. Michele gave me a bracelet with different colored beads to represent the different values in the YW theme –white for faith, blue for divine nature, red for individual worth, green for knowledge, orange for choice and accountability, yellow for good works, purple for integrity, and gold for virtue. On the day of the fundraiser, I showed her how I had lost the red bead and she took it home to fix. When she returned that evening for dinner, she brought me my fixed bracelet and another one similar. She said I could give it to one of the young women. I think it would be a perfect gift for our youngest, soon-to-be Beehive. Don’t you?
I was proud of all the Young Women and their service. They really tried to carry multiple plates the way I had taught them on the Wednesday before. They took notes on what people wanted using a kind of shorthand that was also taught. I wished that we had trays to serve with, like a real restaurant. I know how hard it is to serve when the establishment lacks proper equipment. If we ever have a surplus of funds, I think it would be beneficial to have these items. Or maybe we could rent them from some party place or hotel? These are things I want to look into for next year.
It was definitely a learning experience for me. I have great ideas to improve the night… like start off with tables to seat as many as possible that can be taken down later for the dance floor. More food would be good, too, so that none are turned away. More water and less powder for the lemonade that was made in the 5 gallon coolers. (Sorry, folks, I didn’t taste it when we made it and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was like drinking Lemonheads.) More tables for the auction… or a way to stack items upwards. We probably only need to use half sheets to take up less space. The bidding battles that take place can continue on the back.
I was really glad that Sandra, who serves as First Counselor in our YW organization, had all of the bidding sheets files on her computer already. I was blown away by the graphics used and certificates she printed out. I liked the little cardboard holders her husband and daughters cut out, too. We really needed them and I never once thought of them ahead of time. My other counselor, Tobi, turns out to be a master at pinning white lights to carpet walls in loop de loops. She was a stalwart soldier showing up to decorate earlier in the day and then staying late that night constantly doing what needed to be done. My secretary, Natasha, was overseer of decor and showed up with tablecloths borrowed from the Relief Society and then took them home that night to wash. I’m grateful to work with these women who serve without thinking of what’s in it for them. They serve and come back the next day asking what more they can do to help.
Thanks to my neighbor, John, for setting up his backdrop and lights so that we could have pictures taken. I asked him on the day of the activity when our scheduled photographer experienced a flare up in carpal tunnel syndrome in one of his hands. John was willing to help at the last minute, and I was glad that he was able to shoot pictures of couples to capture the fun they had at La Bella Bistro.
Finally, I know you’re reading this, Arwen… thanks for coming up with a great fundraising night that we can continue in your absence. We missed you and your family at La Bella Bistro this year.