The first fall fundraiser was a night to remember.
September 18, the morning of our first fall fundraiser, dawned with rain in the forecast, and worry in the minds of the InSpirit team who had worked for months gathering silent auction items, figuring out placement of tables, and how to handle the fact that food and drink needed to be limited to certain spaces. We arrived at the appointed set-up hour to a downpour, but shortly after that the rain stopped, never to be more than a whisper for the rest of the day. Energy abounded as we spent the next 2 and a half hours transforming the Community Church of San Geronimo. And we did it! We were ready just as the first guests arrived. The silent auction's more than 100 items filled both sides of the sanctuary with room in the middle for chairs. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres were beautifully presented, and David Jenkins was strumming his flamenco guitar magic.
More than 70 people joined us. Many of Aneice Taylor's aides and house members, who hadn't seen each other in years, came especially to witness their and Aneice's dear friend Nancy Nichols being awarded the first Aneice Taylor Community Service Award. There were folks who have donated to InSpirit for years, and people who were new to the organization, attracted by a fun looking event. And it was fun! David's playing served as a backdrop to warm conversations. People perused with interest our wide array of auction items--paintings, ceramics and glass work from talented artists, antiques, gift certificates, and one-of-a-kind offerings, including two guitars from InSpirit executive director, Jonathan Frieman, and a beautiful quilt that Aneice had made before her accident.
When the time came to gather, we filled the sanctuary, and listened attentively as Jonathan described the progress we have made in stepping into Aneice's shoes and also growing the organization, with a slide show emphasizing his points. He was rightly proud of the progress we have made in getting new grants, and understanding how to help our clients receive more governmental support. Board member and Aneice's daughter Deva Wheeler gave a heartfelt introduction to the awards portion of the evening, basing her speech around the phrase "helping hands." and pointing out how necessary all of our helping hands are to people with quadriplegia.
Only one of our three awardees was able to be present, but she more than sufficed. We were very moved by Marty Meade's enumeration of all that Nancy Nichols has done for InSpirit, and by Nancy's heartfelt acceptance speech. Brian Jacobson laid out the very important contribution Andrew Giacomini has made to InSpirit, using his legal expertise to our benefit when funds were absconded as well as when a client was in need. Last but not least, Jonathan explained how Judy Arnold found a way to help us get our first grant from the Board of Supervisors. The beautiful slumped glass plaques that Marty made were based on Aneice's art work, and are sure to be treasured by the recipients.
Of course this was a fund raiser, and our last speaker was our new fundraising associate. Tracy Gary explained with clarity and humor the importance of pledging support, whether people had the money on hand that moment, or not. We feel very lucky to have such an experienced fundraiser helping us move forward, and it was great to hear her praise for how well we are already doing!
In the days since the event we keep running into people telling us what an enjoyable and enlightening evening it was!
Many thanks to the team that pulled it off: organizer in chief, Leslie Franklin, major helpers Marty Meade, Maya Friedman and Amy Valens, graphic artist Brian Jacobson, day-of-the-event volunteers Buck Chavez, Ben Kinney, Kiersten Kotaka, Deva Wheeler, and Tom Valens, the volunteer food crew, Chef Ryan Gyorke and Alyssa Wood from R. Gyorke Catering prepared the hors d'oeuvres, Danielle Kerr and Sam Boal were our fearless bartenders, and the Many people and organizations whose donations fed us or went home in the hands of high bidders!