Sometimes you fly by the seat of your pants and that’s ok but then there are other times in life where it feels like everything has led you down a certain path. Arriving with the necessary skills and support are a huge bonus and lead to success.
Take the lobster boil for example – indeed the whole trip to Haiti. So let’s dissect that for a minute about the pathway. I have wanted to go outside my comfort zone and provide health care that will enrich others and myself. As stated before in the post Building Momentum it is going to be an interesting journey. There are so many unknown variables in the medical mission but the one plus is going with colleagues that you work well with which is the case of the surgeons and OR nurses on the team. It is also orthopaedic driven which is my skill set so those are all ticks in the box telling me that my intuition was right that this is the time to take this leap.
Now on to the other pathway that the team just walked. With only a few months until we leave there was not a lot of lead time and even less so if you dissected the time into quadrants around the holidays, our departure and enough time to plan something substantial.
If the wheel has been invented it seems a shame to start all over so I searched the Team Broken Earth site and saw that a few groups in the Maritimes had hosted Lobster Boils. Now as a volunteer in a different aspect of my life I had spent quite a few evenings over the years volunteering as a bartender at the Zoo Society’s Lobsterfest and pinch hitting whatever else needed to be done. They quit hosting it because it was quite time-consuming for their paid staff who usually do educational elements that fulfill their mandate far better than this fundraiser so it fell by the wayside. But it was always sold out, hugely fun and profitable. So why not do that I suggested to the committee and off we went on that tangent.
Short notice venues aren’t all that easy to run into but we found one that was big enough, available and reasonably priced. My contacts netted me the name of the lobster place in Halls Harbour and it was lobster season when our venue was booked so we were off to the races. As a team we divvied up the tasks and set to work. The marvels of modern technology made it so that we could keep each other up to date easily and make instantaneous decisions. We secured a celtic band on a recommendation from another band. We figured out, because of my past experience, which raffle license we really “wanted” and it was the one without the hassles. The liquor fell into place with a contact that Aimy had and so on down the line.
I ran into a small glitch when I sent out the PSA’s and ended up with a request for a written article and a TV interview. Now that seems like positive attention and I thought they were both great opportunities but the printed article would have hit the press the day before the event which really would not help. The TV noon time 3 minute time slot turned out as a significant tool in the social media marketing campaign but it was difficult finding anyone to do the interview with me, for many reasons, so I went alone. I had a long chat with the Executive Director of Team Broken Earth and we came to the conclusion that my past background of public speaking would serve me well and that I knew the message I was striving to put forth. 3 minutes live isn’t very long and it was a good interview although I will say this – they cut the still as the most unflattering photo I think I have ever seen of myself. On the other hand I was very nicely dressed because I have friends who shop with/for me! See again one of those positive connections.
A small aside here — I can not seem to master embedding videos in the blog and it is one tool I wish I had. Perhaps I need to find a young tech master that will help me. I had wanted to show the video — not because I am that full of myself but to speak about the power of sharing. It was shared so many times on Facebook and via email and then the momentum really did start to build.
We had a late start and I sent out encouraging emails to team members to talk it up, we posted posters around various hospital locations and people shared. At the end of the first week ticket sales were sitting at about 75 and we only had one week left. I adjusted my mental goals down from the initial 250 (which was 10 friends/team-mate) to 125 and thought it could still be good although we won’t seem like many in that big venue that seats 600. In the final 36 hours we sold over 125 tickets to cap it off at 309. But then a friend of a team-mate had missed the date so we opened the ticket portal for them because they had provided a free auction item and while it was open more people slipped in. By the time we got it closed again we were at 324. Seriously??? It was like holy moly – can we do this?? There was a little bit of trepidation.
Here is that connection and the pathways though because in my other volunteer life I know two chefs who used to work up north in camps and can serve 1000 easily. I also know and work with a wonderful young nurse who moonlights at Earl’s; her old stomping grounds from working her way through University. So she was my other resource for checking food quantities. The alcohol was adjusted upward, the venue informed and still the auction items kept pouring in.
I have been a master list maker for many years now and that was a great tool in the belt. I went to work armed with a list of calls or emails to send and that’s what breaks were spent doing. Loads of team communications in the last 4 days from the end of ticket sales to the event. They were busy days and I was quite happy to have the financial means and the scheduling clerk that allowed me an extra day off so that pre work on the event could occur.
I can tell you this with certainty; cooking for 325 people is not for the faint of heart or the weak of back plus it helps to have good shoes! I actually brought home and cleaned my nursing Birkenstocks so I could wear them for what I knew was going to be a marathon of events. That again is my past experience coming in to play as I knew sore feet lead to sore hips and cranky me so I nipped that in the bud. Again a connection from another world and another team mate netted us superb desserts so all in all we put out a really stellar meal. We had a few minor glitches with the buffet line for a few minutes but got that sorted out with the help of my adult children who popped in to help where the issue spots had developed.
It turned out to be such a superb event on so many levels but most importantly it was a fabulous team building event for those that were fortunate enough to be available to “volunteer” for it. It was work but it helped us gel as a team and showed what we can do when we pulled together. It didn’t hurt that our patrons had wide open wallets and that the auction items were so amazing. We had a little surprise entertainment in the form of three mummer and I really hope our photographer captured them! Yes we even had a photographer who volunteered her services for the evening. I didn’t see much of her until towards the end when I finally found time to “cut a rug” with my man and she captured our smiles I hope but it was a crazy fast gig and so perhaps it was all just a blur!
We surpassed our goal of 250 people and my internal voice hoping for $18,000 to 20,000. We feed 318 people (a few no show’s) and netted just shy of $27,000 — not too shabby for a few days worth of work. That will buy a significant amount of supplies and transportation for our team.
It all came together because of team work and skills and a lot of intuition. Of course that failed me in the butter department when 25 lbs of butter was not enough!! Who knew that much butter would disappear and the last table, who were already cranky because they were last, would have no butter with their lobster. Again with the intuition; I had the young good-looking doctor go apologize as she was nasty and rude to me but apparently she was ok with it when he talked to her. Just got to know how to play your cards! It was a busy night and I didn’t get a chance to connect with as many people as I would have liked but it was about putting on a great event and we succeeded our goals there.
Now I should get off the blog entry and go do some scanning of documents so that the income can all be recorded properly. Perhaps not tonight as I have a signficantly sore throat and think I could use some down time or perhaps my throats needs to met up with some scotch or a salt rinse; perhaps both!
This post comes with only one picture; lifted off of a friends’ Facebook page; as my phone camera wasn’t pulled out all night as I was too busy playing drill sergeant (in a good way I’m told) and keeping things moving.
Thanks to those that attended and are reading the blog. Thanks to those special ones who popped in to help when the masses were on our heels. Thanks to my regular readers for sticking with me during this hiatus from blogging. I have a few more irons in the fan again (already) so it won’t become regular any time soon.