I read the email invitation from the fundraising committee for Friday night, April 27, 2012. I scanned the email very quickly and these words stood out: “Wine”, “Art”, “Craft” and “fun”. I told myself, “This is going to be fun. I’ll get to know new people and have fun.” On the night of the “Wind and Art” party, I had a hard time deciding what to wear! After all, it was a Wine and Art Party! I was excited. When I got there, Angie, the lady of the house greeted me with open arms. I saw some of the guests in the kitchen and soon was informed that everybody was in the basement and has already started working. As I headed downstairs I realized this was not a fancy art and wine show with women walking in their expensive gowns holding their wine glasses and critiquing art!! I saw a very organized basement full of arts and crafts stuff. I saw a table with people busy at work. We got to work. Some already were painting chimineas. We were all assigned different tasks.
As the evening progressed, I was thinking quietly about these people sitting around the table on a Friday night and volunteering their time for a great cause. They were part of the fundraising committee who have been actively meeting regularly every week and for months had put their skills, abilities and connections to work to solicit donations in the community towards “WINE, DINE, & SHOWTIME” which is Sexual Assault Centre London’s yearly fundraising event. They had volunteered their time walking door to door, asking for donations. And here they were painting, cutting, knotting, and labelling. They could be anywhere to have fun but they chose to be there to complete the task and they were doing it while having fun.
The basement was filled with laughter, jokes, personal stories, and just pure joy.
I truly felt honoured to be in their company. I shared some of my personal stories and how I miss my family. And a few of them together said “We are your family now”. I had teary eyes and felt so much love and affection from these people that up to that night I only had seen their names in my emails or briefly had met. I was indeed fortunate to have met everyone that night.
I shared with them my dilemma of choosing the right outfit that night and they all started laughing. It was pretty funny, come to think of it! Soon they started teasing me about that. We shared food and more personal stories. It was a beautiful night and we got lots done while having fun. I carry my camera everywhere with me and as I was taking their pictures I knew I had to do something to recognize their work. These women don’t expect to get anything in return. They are volunteers. But I just wanted to do something for them as they deserved to get recognition for their hard work. Without them there would be no “WINE, DINE & SHOW TIME” event!
Next Friday night I was there again. The night was filled with fun, food, laughter and I was grateful that Angie had opened up her heart and her home to us, being such a gracious wonderful hostess as well as volunteering her time.
The event took place on May 25, 2012. Everyone was assigned a position. Here there were again but not just as guests sitting down and enjoying themselves, but rather hard at work trying to keep everything together. They did work super hard that night and I noticed how they faced challenges that came their way with grace, kindness, and professionalism. I saw them also having fun. I also witnessed moments of triumph and sense of pride when they hugged or high-fived each other. I saw eyes making connections, smiling, nodding, and expressing relief that all their hard work paid off. I have never seen a better group than SACL’s fundraising team. What they did was the impossible. They not only made it possible, they did it with sincere love and passion that is very hard and rare to find anywhere else.
I made a video for our volunteers to capture the importance of their work, the priceless value that they bring to SACL and to give them recognition. I would have loved to see them being recognized at the gala but the program was already full. They did get recognition at the gala when they played the video. I was so proud of them and it made me really happy to watch and hear the reaction of all the guests when they watched the video.
I also met someone else that night. He was another volunteer who was in charge of audio/visual for our event. When I met him, he was sitting on the floor preparing balloons with the rest of the team.
It was very easy to get along with him. He was calm, reserved, and very smart! I have to thank him here and acknowledging that without him I would not have been able to do my part! I don’t wear a watch. As stage manager you have to know what time it is to be able to follow the program. So, I was at his side constantly asking what time it was. And soon I guess he figured why I was there and started pointing to the program and the time showing where we were. I am ever grateful for my time keeper! You rocked that night and thank you!
The group has met two times after the event to discuss feedback, results, and most importantly, to celebrate their success and to validate the importance of the work they do.
Last time we were together, we shared that it wasn’t just about fundraising and donations. It was about a group of people developing such strong bond and relationship that we can call ourselves “family”. People who worked in that group were sincere and the love was portrayed through their hard work and the success they brought to the event. Fundraising is not an easy task.
I personally have never been involved with fundraising. But witnessing how much work and time it requires and the amount of energy spent, I salute these volunteers and am very proud to have been part of their work for a couple of hours. I would love to and be more than happy to participate and volunteer my time with any projects or any other volunteer work that each of them may have. I would not hesitate to give them my time as they gave their time to SACL. Life goes on, people move on, but I will never forget the love you gave me and how warmly you received me. Rest assured that what you’ll get back from me is pure love, affection, gratitude and sense of humbleness. I sincerely love all of you and will keep you in my heart wherever life takes me. Gratitude.
Special Thank you to Sue and Linda for their great leadership and motivating the team. You are amazing and you did a wonderful job with your "Dream Team"!
You are the beauty in the world!
The only regret that I have is not remembering to have a group photo of all of you on the night of the gala!!!