That’s how Francisco, one of the participants in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions, started his speech at our fundraising dinner last night.
This event truly struck me as everything a fundraiser should be. Let me tell you how in pictures!
Heartfelt speakers sharing their experiences
The SoSers who spoke really effectively got across the serious impact that the program has had in their lives and that they have been able to have in the community. It was lovely for them to be able to honor the community partners who were in attendance and to share what they gained from working with them. Many people leaving the event said that they left with a better sense of the work that we do and an appreciation for the scope and importance of the program. This is especially valuable for participants’ families and friends, who have been hearing the excitement from participants all summer, to be able to leave with a clear and exciting sense of what the program is and why their friend or family member has been so effusive over it all summer. The quote at the beginning of the post from Francisco epitomizes the sentiment of the speeches.
Good food prepared with love
We were fortunate to receive donations of beer from Surly Brewing Company and appetizers from Common Roots Cafe. Many more of our donations came from our friends — tomatoes, beets, and greens from board member Lynn’s garden, kale from program leader Courtney’s farm, basil from Matt’s house, plus the spare flour, oil, spices, and other miscellany that the SoSers who prepared the food provided from our own kitchens. That’s not to mention the dozens of plates, glasses, twinkle lights, table clothes, and other items that people entrusted to us for the night. Some friends living nearby humored my strange request to use their kitchen for the evening. The meal was prepared and received with love and purpose.
The menu, for those wondering, started with appetizers: mini-quiches, borscht, and fruit and cheese skewers from Common Roots. The main course options were chicken enchiladas with corn salad and vegan veggie curry with a kale salad. For dessert, we had chocolate cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and vegan cherry clafoutis. Alongside Surly Bender and Surly Cynic beer and assorted wine, it was a meal to remember.
Hosted in a beautiful, meaningful space
One of our partner organizations for the summer is the Spokes Bike Walk Center that is about to open in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. At the beginning of the summer, the Spokes building was an empty, dirty warehouse. Through the hard work of SoSers and others, the space has been transformed into a bright, beautiful almost-bike shop. SoSers picked the colors, designed two murals (and are halfway through implementing one), washed the walls, painted, built the mechanic stands, and so much more. Spokes let us use the space for the fundraiser. It was truly fantastic to be able to show off our work just by virtue of the building we were in, and we can all say that the hard work SoSers put into making it a pleasant place to be was worthwhile.
Multiple ways to engage
In addition to providing dinner, the fundraiser featured an art auction, mostly made up of art created by SoSers. At left, you can see Rinaldo Lama, a puppet made by our participant Patricia during our puppet-making workshop earlier in the summer. We also sold home-made pesto and cookbooks with recipes from many participants. After being inspired by the speeches, many attendees chose to make further donations and take home artwork. It was great to feel that the attendees were getting as much out of the event as we were. Speaking of the attendees…
All of the people who came!
I’ll be honest: as late as Friday morning, I thought this might be another nice but kind of awkward event with a handful of people. You know, the kind where the people putting on the event outnumber the people attending it? However, all afternoon on Friday and all day on Saturday, people kept telling me (as keeper of the guest list), “Guess what! My friend is going to come after all!” or “I heard back from my mom that she can make it,” or “Did I tell you my sister is coming too?” Our guest list doubled in 24 hours and we ended up with a full 30 people at the dinner!
Of course, the number of attendees is not nearly as important as the personal relationships we have with each person there, who were eager to learn more about the the program and the work of the people they care about who was involved. Our friends, our parents, our parents’ friends, our friends’ parents, and our community partners were all out in full force. The room was suffused with a deep sense of gratitude, in all directions.
The people who came included the dozen of SoSers who cooked, cleaned, decorated, served, made art, invited their friends, lent dishes, solicited donations, and did all the odd jobs that were needed to make it happen. It absolutely couldn’t have happened without every person who contributed.
And, oh yeah…
It was financially successful as well! We blew away our goal and made over $1000 after the minor expenses we incurred. One more big thank you to everyone who made it happen! If you, dear reader, want to get in on the fun and donate to the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions, feel free to do so here. We’ll definitely be back next year with another dinner, so plan to join us then!