Monday, October 10, 2011

Sparkly Person of October - Making His Birthday Extra Special

Recently, while cruising around my usual social media haunts, I caught something very sparkly on my friend Jen's Facebook Wall! A friend of hers had thrown himself a birthday party. Woo Hoo you say? Wait... This was a very special birthday party which should inspire us all to sparkle as much as Darwin when we have a special occasion to celebrate. 

I contacted Darwin to ask if he'd be a willing subject of an upcoming blog post. He kindly agreed and was happy to open yet another avenue for spreading awareness for The Trevor Project. My hat goes off to Darwin, and he officially stands as our sparkly person for the month of October!

Here's Darwin's (very humble) account of the event...

The Trevor project is an organization that helps in the fight to prevent suicide among LGBTQ through their educational, counseling, and hotline resources. This is obviously something very close to my heart as a gay man, especially since bullying has come to light more recently in our society, even though this has been a problem that has been happening for many many years now. I wanted to continue to support an organization that would help these kids and give them the support they need when many feel lost and abandoned in their own family and community.

As far as how I pulled off my birthday fundraiser event for the Trevor Project - well, it was a lot of work, more work than I expected, and there were days when I definitely felt like I was in over my head about what I was doing and questioning whether I could pull something off like this. 
     An aside from Kathy - Having planned my share of events, this was an incredible undertaking and Darwin, you rock for pulling it off!

I first had to get approval from the Trevor Project in order to throw a third party event. I knew I wanted to have a fairly simple party and use my birthday to raise money for the organization. I had to fill out the paperwork required through their website, telling them the projected money I would possibly raise, and if I would have any sponsors, underwriters, expenses, etc. Once I filled out the paperwork, I scanned it and e-mailed it to them, and received approval within 24 hours, which was great!

I then started contacting different bars to figure out where I could hold my birthday fundraiser event. I e-mailed about 5 to 6 bars and heard from about 3 to 4 of them - all of which were very receptive to the idea and were willing to help me out with my fundraiser event. Each bar gave me different ideas they had and what they would do to help raise money. 

One bar said that for all drinks ordered that evening, $1.00 would be added so that it could go to the Trevor Project. I decided to go with this bar - Barrage - so that people didn't have to commit to a certain amount, and could buy as little or as many drinks as they wanted as the night progressed. I met with the owners about 5 weeks before the actual event, and they were very supportive, and were ok with having the event on my actual birthday,  from 7 to 11 p.m. I kept in constant communication with them during those 5 weeks to make sure everything that was discussed was still confirmed for that evening.

The part I probably spent the most time on was getting all the items for the raffles that I would have that evening. There was a lot of paperwork involved and it took time to try and reach out to friends and businesses who I thought could possibly donate something to the night of the fundraiser. I tried to use e-mail as a means of communications as it would save me time. I was lucky to have friends who worked for different companies like Sister Act Broadway Musical, Institute of Culinary Education, Sabatino and Co., Lazzoni, Suzie's Chinese Restaurant, and DKNY - and they were kind enough to ask their managers if anything could be donated. I received some amazing items which were very popular on the evening of the event. In addition, I contacted many businesses for the next 5 weeks - probably over 150 restaurants, stores, etc. to see who might be willing to donate to the cause. Sometimes, I wouldn't hear from anyone for days, and then there were some days when I would from about 5 all in one day. Once I knew they were interested, I made sure to keep in communications with them. And once they confirmed they were willing to donate something, I would go to them to pick up the gift certificate/items since they were willing to go out of their way to donate these things for the fundraiser. At the end of the day, I had 10 packages I was raffling off the evening of the event. I honestly couldn't have done it without the help of friends and the generosity of some of these businesses. This ended up being the one that generated the most money for the fundraiser.

 The packages were as follows:

Package 1: 2 - $125 Gift Cooking Classes Vouchers at the Institute of Culinary Education as well as a Cupcake Making Class at Butter Lane.
Package 2: A pair of Sister Act Broadway Musical tickets (a value of $243 dollars).

Package 3: Four Gold Passports to Chelsea Piers and Four Tickets to the Circle Line Cruise around NYC
Package 4: A gift basket from Sabatino and Co. (Their gourmet items have been featured in Oprah magazine) 

Package 5: Two Chair Furniture Pieces from Lazzoni
Package 6: $100 DKNY Gift Certificate and a Salvatore Ferragamo Bracelet
Package 7: $100 Gift Certificate Dinner for Two at Delicatessen, 1 - $15 Gift Certificate at Empanada Mama's, 1 - $25 Gift Certificate to Tuck Shop, and 1 - $24 Gift Certificate to Cool Haus Ice Cream Truck.
Package 8: Free Dinner for Two at Elsewhere (Two Appetizers, Two Entrees, and Two Desserts), 2 - $15 Gift Certificates at Empanada Mama's, and 1 - $50 Gift Certificate at Suzie's 
Chinese Restaurant.
Package 9: 1 - $100 Brunch Gift Certificate at Boqueria, 1 - $50 Gift Certificate to Boston Market, and 1 - $25 Gift Certificate at ChipShop.
Package 10: Homemade Dinner Made by myself and a Tupperware Set

In all honesty, this wouldn't have been as successful  without the help of my friends and without the kindness and generosity of everyone who came. It was unbelievable how many people were willing to come out and donate to such a great cause. The final total after all the in person donations, the bar, and online donations was $2,103 dollars - exceeding my goal of $500 dollars. But as I said, it wouldn't have been as successful without everyone who had gone that evening to show their love and support.

Darwin - We at Sparkle and Ink commend you for all of your hard work and the success of your event! You have inspired us and we are now planning our own fundraiser... Stay tuned for details...

How have you helped to contribute to a favorite cause, or volunteered your time lately? Share with us in the comments! We'd love to hear, and maybe you'll be the sparkly person of November!

 - Kathy

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