Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hammer Nails and Cocktails

Please forgive me as I had this post written at the beginning of 2012 but forgot to hit publish -- I am sure you are still able to enjoy it and I am always happy to bring more people into awareness about the Atlanta Community ToolBank organization.
I believe I have mentioned in previous posts that I hold a position on the board of directors for The Atlanta Community ToolBank a non profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  Their mission is to lend tools like hammers, rakes, drills, etc. to organizations with community projects. This lending of tools allows these organizations to invest more of the money they raised into the projects which allows a larger focus of the work they are attempting to accomplish.  Well, in 2011 the Atlanta Community ToolBank celebrated twenty years of service to the Atlanta community and in recognition of that achievement the board decided to hold a gala.  I was honored to co-chair the event with Chris Sears, another board member, and I have found that the ToolBank provides a great service to the
city of Atlanta and any assistance I can give to spread the mission is sure worth my time and talents.
Planning - A committee is formed consisting of  board members and a couple of additional people.  My assignment is to work with the committee members who are planning the actual event and Chris is going to work on ticket sales.  We will also surely get assistance from the ToolBank team of Gina, Emily,  Shannon, CJ and Patty as well.  The group quickly decides on a catchy name for the gala:  Hammers, Nails, and
Cocktails.  The creation of a logo begins as we start brain storming on everything from the date of event, site selection, food, entertainment,  ticket price, and the style of our event - not to mention sponsorship and ticket sales (Yes...Chris' area of focus, but since it is a large undertaking and our goal is to make money we will all need to pitch in and drive ticket sales).  A date of Saturday, December 3rd  is chosen and the ToolBanks staff shares with myself and the committee their vision for the event. This vision is to create an event that is not your traditional sit down affair with awards presented and a little dancing afterwards.   We want to bring a little of the Atlanta Community ToolBank's impact to the event and help anyone who may not be familiar with the non profit a little knowledge.   As most non profits find, one of their major struggles is awareness about what they do so why not make that a part of this years celebration.
After a little searching and weighing of options, King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown is chosen as our location and that means Bold American Catering is our food provider.   Wow that was really quite easy and with a venue chosen we are ready to start getting the details hashed out.  Patty starts working on getting sponsorship and Chris and I meet to discuss ticket sales.  I hold a conference call for our event committee meeting to discuss our first agenda item: entertainment.  Although we do plan to give out our usual end of the year awards,  we want it to be more about the connecting of people and checking the organization out.  After a few discussions and looking around we narrow our choices down to three.  It is 
time to take a vote and after all votes are tallied,  Joe Gransden and His Big Band is contacted and contracted for the evenings entertainment.  
With another part of the evening decided,  it is time to kick the planning  into high gear.  We need to work on getting some silent auction items,  create the decor concept, and finalize some of the venue details.  We set up a meeting at King Plow to go over the food choices and get a feel for the venue.  We ask a floral designer to come in to discuss options for transforming the space. The venue really does not need a whole lot of tranformation as it is a blank warehouse and fits perfectly into our ideas for the evening.   A silent auction committee is formed with my friend Karen M. heading the charge to solicit donations.  We seem to be on track.  A meeting is set up with Erin from ALLURE Event and Meeting Productions
which afterwards we decide to bring them on board to help with the decor and organization of the evening.  The months fly by and all the specific groups come together to play their parts.  Invitations and programs are created, tickets are sold, silent auction items are collected and the decoration details are planned.
Patty rounds up some great sponsors with Home Depot Foundation leading the group as presenting sponsor. Stites and Harbison,  Turner, The Best Consultants, Delloitte, and Kilpatrick Stockton all step to the plate with their cash sponsorship as well.  We are moving right along and November comes quickly.  
The committee comes up with the idea of playing "Toolbox Trivia".  This is how we plan to bring the impact of the ToolBank to the evening as four vignettes will be strategically created throughout the
venue.  These vignettes will contain answers to trivia questions.  When guests arrive, they will be handed a trivia sheet and asked to find the answers to the questions which can be found in the vignettes.  Once the trivia card is correctly filled out, the guest is entered into a drawing for a couple of great prizes:  - A Stanley Tool's tool package and a get away to the Ritz Carlton Plantation in upstate Georgia.  Awesome prizes!  Since we have brought Erin with ALLURE on board,  she, Gina, and I begin working on these vignettes and what they will look like. The first one will represent the work many of the tools do for neighborhood homes for the elderly.  We plan to construct the front of a house  and add details in the yard to hide the trivia answers among.  The second vignette will be a play ground because many of the tools are used by them to build 
them.  We begin looking for a playground company that would sponsor this or into purchasing a playground that could be part of our silent auction.  The third station will be a garden as many organizations barrow tools to plant and create their community gardens. Railroad ties, dirt, plants, a scarecrow and a shepherds hook complete with bird feeder hanging from it are the ideas we come up for this station.  Finally the fourth vignette will be a festival tent as many of the tools are used during the installation and removal for various festivals and fairs in different communities.  Gina begins to create the trivia questions and Erin and I work on the ideas and details for each of the vignettes.    
We meet one more time at the venue to work on placement of these vignettes as well as registration,  a photo booth, and the tables for the night.  The team obtains donated linens rentals from Graceful Tables,  discounted table rentals from Event Rentals Unlimited, and ficus trees with twinkle lights from Foliage Design.  All great donations which we will use to assist in transforming the room for this wonderful evening.  The night is coming together and soon it is the Friday before the event.  I run around town collecting the last minute silent auction items and work with Gina and Karen to create the bid sheets.  The ToolBank staff works on gathering all the supplies we requested to create the little vignettes and stage them so they are ready to load onto the truck Saturday morning. 
Saturday comes quickly and our first set of volunteers arrive at the warehouse and begin to load the items onto the truck.  Of course it always takes longer then we expect and our 2 P.M. venue load in time passes and we are still at the warehouse.  We quicken the pace and a little behind schedule we set off on the short drive to King Plow.  Unloading and Erin directs the volunteers as to where each item needs to be placed. Visions are explained and assignments are made for the volunteers to begin putting together the vignettes.  I begin working on the decor for the silent auction as we have decided to hang chain from the rafters down the middle of the table.  The silent auction item descriptors will be secured to sand paper discs found in the warehouse and these descriptors will be hung from the chains.  The corresponding bid sheets will be placed on the table below the descriptors.  After working on this for about 45 minutes I begin to wonder if the idea was a little ambitious and might need to be scrapped.  But after looking around at the vignettes and how they are coming together,  I refocus and continue working away.  
The task of organizing the seventy plus silent auction items is quite daunting and thankfully there is a little help at the end.  We finish and I take a look around.  The buffet table is set with a delightful display of food,  the four vignettes are perfectly set,  filled with corresponding clues, the photo booth is ready , the band has arrived and is warming up to play.   In the back room the tables are covered with copper linens and a blue runner adorned with a creative centerpiece put together by Adam using copper nails which are simple and perfect. The twinkle of lights from the ficus trees soften the corners of the room and add a touch of elegance.    
The volunteers who are working the registration table arrive and I head to the restroom for a quick splash of water and a change.  I had intended to head home for a quick shower but with traffic and the  late start,  I opt for plan B - a superman change in the back room.
Guests began to arrive and the evening was kicked off with welcoming remarks by Executive Director Patty Russart. It was a great evening and many of my friends who had not known about ToolBank before the evening started,  really enjoyed the toolbox trivia and learning about the organization.  Heck, even some of them who knew about ToolBank did not know how much of an impact they make. Awards were handed out and after a short program,  back to music to finish off the evening.   The overall mission of  celebrating 20 years along with an element of enlightenment was truly accomplished by a great team of staff and volunteers.  It was a lot of work but money was raised,  people had a good time, and we honored those who had contributed to this great organization.  Another great time volunteering for a great organization - here's to the next twenty years!
Oh and just some statistics from the evening.  Over 160 tickets were sold.  Adam used 840 copper nails in the centerpieces.  The highest grossing silent auction item was the "Instant Sommelier" starter wine cellar package at $500.

Some more 2011 Atlanta Community ToolBank Impact and photos from Hammers Nails and Cocktails

To get involved or be a part of this years fundraiser:  

No comments: