Fund Raising Efforts

October 10, 2015
The shopping area near my childhood home.

The shopping area near my childhood home.

Over the years… starting as a young child selling hand made pot holders door-to-door so I’d have money to buy Christmas presents for my family, I’ve been involved in many fund raising activities.

In high school, I was a member of the Key Club (a junior Kiwanis club) and distributed local phone directories in exchange for donations. I also helped sell Christmas trees to raise money for our charitable pursuits.

During my college years, I volunteered as a tutor at the local high school, but my fund raising activities were focused on paying my tuition, room and board, and occasional glass of beer.

After college, I got involved with the LIONS club and sold brooms, light bulbs, fruitcakes, pancake breakfast tickets, and raffle tickets among other items.

At church, I’ve been involved with yard sales, Irish dinners, auctions, and numerous other fund raising efforts.

Is it any wonder that somehow I got snookered into being the Fund Raising chair of our local Family Promise affiliate? Family Promise is an organization whose mission it is to help homeless children and their parents get back into a home of their own. For more information on Family Promise, I invite you to visit the Family Promise web site.

My past endeavors were small potatoes compared with my current challenges. In the past, the most money raised by any of the things I worked with was a few thousand dollars. Now I’m faced with raising at least $50,000 to get the program started and then meeting an annual budget of over $125,000.

Our fund raising committee has started a number of things to get that money flowing. We have Club 180 which encourages donors to help turn a life around (180 degrees) by pledging and donating $180 per year. We’ve also placed donation canisters in many local businesses. (One of those canisters was stolen. It probably contained less than $20 at the time. It’s sad that people would steal from charities, but maybe they needed the money more than our homeless children. Another story for another time!)

In less than a month we will hold our first major fund raising event. It will be Bed Race & Festival. On November 7th, we’ll welcome local citizens at 9:00 AM at Forsyth Central High School where they can visit at least 14 booths selling various items, have their child’s face painted, or let their child create a work of art that will be donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for another fund raising event.

The bed races will begin around 10:00 AM. Each team will compete in two heats and their time will be recorded. The two teams with the fastest combined times will then compete in the finals at noon.

While there will be a trophy for the team with the fastest bed, the big prize – the coveted Brass Bed award – will go to the team that raises the most money for Family Promise.

In case you’re wondering why I bring this up…

My entry in the Bed Race

My entry in the Bed Race

As of last night, my friends and family have donated almost $900 to Family Promise in support of my bed entry. I’ve given my bed the title of “First Day of Retirement” and it will be pushed by a group of retired senior citizens. Our goal is to prove that old age and treachery can defeat youth and enthusiasm any day of the year. If you like that thought (regardless of your age) I’d appreciate your demonstration of support… in terms of dollars donated to Family Promise.

You can make a donation to my bed or any of my competitors by going to our local local Family Promise Bed Race page.

Obviously I feel very strongly about Family Promise. Forsyth County, Georgia is one of the wealthiest areas in the country and yet, as of this past Thursday (October 8th) there were three hundred forty-three children considered homeless since the beginning of the current school year. A child is considered homeless if he or she is living with friends or relatives, living in an extended stay motel, living in a tent or camping trailer, or living in the family car.

You can also help the cause by buying any of my e-books that are available for your Kindle or Nook. I’ve stated that I will donate half of my royalties to Family Promise. If need be, I’ll give it all to Family Promise.

Pure and simple, I cannot do this alone. I need all my friends, family, readers, casual acquaintances, and everyone else to chip in. We have almost 200,000 people living in Forsyth County. If I could find a way to obtain at least $1.00 from each of them, we’d have the money problem solved. Sadly, I have yet to figure out how to do that. So, I’m reaching out to everyone I can think of.

I already received backing from a friend in London, England. Let’s see if we can get donations from other parts of the world!

Please spread the word! Thank you kindly.

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Putting the FUN Back in Fund-Raising

July 19, 2010

My first efforts at fund raising were designed to put money in my own pocket. Mom helped me make some sort of pot holders that I then tried to sell door-to-door. Since I’m no longer in that business, I assume the money I made did not seem worth the effort.

Eventually I learned that the best way to raise personal funds came through employment… although the entrepreneur in me still yearns to try my hand at something. If the government doesn’t stop spending my social security on things like buying Pakistan’s friendship, I may be left with no choice.

In high school I belonged to the Key Club – a group of teens sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club – and we raised money for underprivileged children by delivering free neighborhood phone directories and asking for donations. I have no idea where the money we collected went, but we did a pretty decent job of laying guilt on people to get them to drop paper – not coins – in our boxes.

As an adult, I belonged to the Lions Club and became very adept at selling over-priced brooms, light bulbs, and fruitcakes. I’ve also sold more than my share of raffle tickets.

As a member of our church’s Out Reach committee, I’ve sold tickets to Irish Dinners, Gourmet Dinners, and various dances. (In our church, most forms of dancing are permitted.)

And then we discover SCRIP!

Gift Cards - Just as good as Cash!

My bride and I attended a church service in Akron, Ohio and saw that they were selling gift cards after each service. We investigated and convinced our church in Cumming, Georgia to give it a try.

We’ve been selling scrip for about eleven months and have earned a little over $11,000 for our efforts. It’s taken us a while to convince all our members to participate, but as more and more people take the time to buy some cards, our profits are beginning to increase.

So, what’s so great about this type of fund-raising? Simple. A person pays $100 for a grocery store gift card and receive $100 with which to buy groceries. The only thing it costs that person is a few minutes to trade a check for a piece of plastic.

So, how are the funds raised? Again, simple. The grocery store sells the cards to us at a discount. The merchant can then write off the discount as a cost of doing business or a charitable contribution.

There are literally hundreds of retailers who participate in this program. We can get gift cards for restaurants, clothing stores, home improvement and hardware stores, on-line shopping sites, and just about anything else you can think of.

Currently we are looking for other churches in the area to pick up the same project. If we can combine our purchasing power we may be able to get bigger discounts. We’re also trying to contact local merchants who are not yet participating in the program. We recently added a local Greek restaurant that has become one our members’ favorite places.

Any one who has ever sold a fifty-cent candy bar for a buck and a half should take notice of this entry on my blog. There are much better ways to raise money than selling magazine subscriptions to grandparents.

The economy is tough. Why ask people to overpay for anything – no matter how worthy the cause? For every card shown in the photo, I paid face value and the church received a donation. When I take those cards into those merchants, I’ll get exactly what I paid for.

What a deal!


We Need Your Help

March 3, 2010

A home built sixteen feet above sea level

About three thousand families remain homeless along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Most are probably living in government provided trailers, or with friends or family, but they’d all love to be able to move back to their own homes.

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. While New Orleans got all the headlines, the brunt of the storm hit Waveland, Mississippi. There, a thirty foot storm surge totally wiped out many homes and businesses. New Orleans could blame much of their damage on the failure of their levees – after Katrina had moved on. Mississippi could blame nothing other than the hurricane.

So, after nearly five years, why are there still three thousand families unable to go home? The main problem: insurance companies found reasons to avoid paying the claims. In that area of the country, normal homeowner’s insurance means very little. One must also carry flood insurance and wind insurance, and then hope that your home is destroyed by something other than a “named” storm. Families need additional insurance when the storm is given a name.

In addition, charitable relief groups have run out of money. Government funding and grants from other sources have dried up. The only hope families have is to save enough money to pay for the materials to rebuild. There are still plenty of volunteers coming from all over to help. Personal savings and volunteer labor can put people back in their homes… eventually.

Last week, I stayed at the Mission on the Bay camp in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and worked on two homes. One, in Gulfport, was nearing completion. It was located about five miles inland and might have survived the storm… until the roof collapsed. The insurance company wouldn’t pay the claim because the owner didn’t have flood insurance. The owner pitched in and helped us whenever he could. His job involved twelve hour days working with mentally handicapped children at a state hospital.

The second home I worked on was the heartbreaker. It was in Waveland. The owner had built the home himself, and he certainly built it to last. It was approximately twenty-five years old and held together throughout the storm. There was no wind damage to mention, but that thirty foot surge of water left it in ruins.

The authorities declared it inhabitable and the family was provided with a very small trailer. With no money to rebuild, they could do nothing until our volunteer group was able to place them on our schedule. In the past few weeks, they were able to watch as we dismantled their home.

Our supervisor made it clear to us; we were not demolishing the home, we were deconstructing it. We carefully reversed the building process, pulled nails out of boards, and stacked the lumber neatly. The hope of the owners is to use that lumber to rebuild their home.

After being under water (salt water no less) for hours and open to weathering for more than four and a half years, you can imagine the condition of the lumber. We had to discard more than half the boards as totally useless.

And yet, the owners were thrilled to have us bring down their home. They’ve known for years it had to be done before they could take the next step, but they couldn’t afford to pay anyone to do it.

Realistically, the lumber that remains is a drop in the bucket of what they need. For one thing, the current concrete slab (all that remains) is about six feet above sea level. The local ordinance (changed after Katrina) requires homes be built at least sixteen feet above sea level. Thus, the first thing they must do is put in some sort of piers to raise the house ten feet about ground level. (Do the math, a thirty foot surge would still put the houses under water, but building any higher would be unrealistic.)

The contractors working with Mission on the Bay tell us it would take approximately $60,000 dollars worth of material to rebuild that one home in Waveland. Right now, no one has that money.

As for the labor… that was another heartwarming part of our trip. Our group of nine representing Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cumming, Georgia was joined by a few folks from California and a small contingent from another state. In addition, there were about thirty college students who had flown in from New Hampshire and about fifty high school students from Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Those Canadian kids had raised $20,000 to pay for the trip. They came by bus, spent a day in New York City and ate one meal in New Orleans. Otherwise, their mid winter break from school was spent helping others. There is hope for the future!!

I invite my readers to visit the Mission on the Bay web site. Take the time to learn what this group is doing. Then, if you can find it in your heart and wallet, send them a donation. Even if you can only afford a dollar, if we can get 60,000 people to do likewise, we can rebuild that home in Waveland.

If you are reading this article because of a link on Facebook, the effort is working. I’m asking all my friends to spread the word and I’m asking you to do the same.

When you send your donation, please mention my name. I’m hoping we raise more than $60,000, but I’d like the first $60,000 to go to rebuild the home I helped take apart.


It’s All About Me – Isn’t It?

February 15, 2010

I recently attended a Stephen Ministry continuing education session presented by Dr. Kerry Maurer, the Senior Pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cumming, Georgia. His topic: “The Crazy Makers in Our Lives”.

Dr. Maurer’s main source for his talk was the book written by Dr. David Hawkins, “Dealing with the Crazy Makers in our Life”.

My bride and I were both really impressed with the topic… and independently decided to go on-line and by the book. So we are now the proud owners of two copies.

When it comes to books dealing with psychology and personality types, I believe there are two types of people: those who look at themselves and try to decide where they fall into the spectrum of the traits being examined; and those who reflect on their friends and relatives to see if anyone they know falls into the spectrum.

Is that a nice way of saying some people can read books like that and fail to reflect on their own shortcomings? Of course, in my humble opinion, those are the folks who really should look at themselves more closely. But what do I know? I might be an egotist!

Dr. Hawkins describes several types of personalities that have a habit of driving the rest of us crazy. For example, he discusses what he calls the “sufferer” – the person who goes around saying, “Woe is me.” I think most of us have met someone who never has anything go right – they are constantly depressed and if you spend any length of time with them, you too will be depressed.

A sufferer cannot be helped by anyone other than a professional, and even that is difficult. If you offer solutions to their problems, they’ll give you a hundred reasons why nothing would work. What they need is someone to go in and say, “You think that’s bad, let me tell you about the time I…”

Speaking of I, that’s another type Dr. Hawkins describes – the egotist. Every time I read a book describing an egotist I find myself questioning myself. Am I too self-centered?

I like to think I’m not. I devote a lot of time to my church and my family. I’ve spent countless nights at homeless shelters, and devoted many hours to community service projects.

As for my church work, I often ask myself – “Am I doing this for the Glory of God, or the Glory of Jim?”

My bride (God bless her) tells me I do not exhibit any of the outward signs of the egotists described by Dr. Hawkins. She insists she does not see me as a self-centered person.

However, I recently helped judge an oratorical contest at Coal Mountain Elementary School that causes me to disagree with my bride. At the completion of the competition, the teacher who organized the event, Ms. Dottie Culver, introduced me and the other judges to the parents, students, and other teaches in attendance. I was surprised at how much she knew about me! She had not asked me to submit a bio – she just knew!

Ever since, I’ve been asking myself how much I know about my friends and my children. I think I know quite a bit, but I have my doubts.

While discussing this with Lu, (my bride for the uninitiated), I told her that growing up as the youngest of six children I was often chastised for being too nebby. (Nebby is a Pittsburgh term for nosey.) I can’t tell you how many times I was told to mind my own business.

As a result, I feel awkward asking people about themselves… even though I know that talking about ourselves is a favorite topic of many people. I think we all feel comfortable talking about ourselves because it is the one subject about which we are the only world-renowned expert.

If someone volunteers to tell me about him or herself, I’ll gladly listen, but I find it difficult to ask probing question. If you tell me you’re under the weather, I might ask for a more detailed explanation, but I’ll worry the whole time that I might be asking questions you find embarrassing.

If it’s none of my business, just tell me so. I’m used to hearing those words.

Am I an egotist? I’m sure some people see me as a self-centered jerk. I would hope those people are part of a minuscule minority.

However, I did just write a post to my blog that is all about me. Perhaps they’re right!

Maybe I should read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, or something else that doesn’t go into personality types. Do you think I act like Captain Ahab?

At the beach with Emma

If you don’t mind, I will now mentally go to the beach. I don’t want to dwell on my problems any more. Otherwise I might be seen as a sufferer.

On some days, you just can’t win.


Back Home Again

May 11, 2009

I’m back from Mississippi, with special thanks to Michael and Miriam from Virginia.

Doug, Eric, and I drove to Gulfport on Sunday, May 3 to represent Christ the King Lutheran Church at Camp Coast Care – a joint effort of the Lutherans and Episcopalians in Southern Mississippi. The three of us were assigned to work on the framing of a house on the beach. In reality, the home is being built about a hundred and fifty yards from the highway and the beach is on the other side of that highway. But one can see the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the deck… which is about sixteen feet above the ground.

How the house looked when we left on Friday

How the house looked when we left on Friday

The folks who worked on the house during the week are shown below.

The team - minus one member

The team - minus one member

On Tuesday, Doug received a phone call from his brother. The news was not good. Doug’s ninety year-old father had suffered a heart attack and had been rushed to the hospital. The man was in ICU and the doctors were trying to decide the best course of action.

Eric and I assured Doug we’d be able to find a way back to Georgia. So he drove off to be with his family in Tennessee. Eric and I let it be known that we might have to hitch-hike back home (although we planned to rent a car if all else failed) and within a day Michael and Miriam stepped forward and offered us a ride to Atlanta.

In the meantime, our team continued to work on the house. Our team consisted of a woman from Florida, two young ladies from AmeriCorps, three folks from Virginia, the contingent from Christ the King, our supervisor, and the homeowner.

Since Doug had to leave early, he missed the photo-op.

Without a doubt, I was the most out-of-shape person on the crew, but I think those steps eventually got to all of us. It was bad enough that we had to get ourselves up and down those steps to do any work, but we also had to carry tools and materials up those steps.

On Monday, we began by carrying twenty foot lengths of decking material up those steps. The decking material was what is known as 5/4 X 6 inch lumber. In reality, it is one inch thick and approximately five and a half inches wide. That lumber – the lightest of all that had to go up those steps – became the flooring for what will become a screened in porch.

The material for the roof began with the two inch by twelve inch by twenty feet long plank that formed the center beam. The rafters that were attached to that beam were two inches by eight inches by twenty-two feet long.

Needless to say, by the end of the week, my body was totally worn out. We returned home on Saturday and I think I am finally recovered.

Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to returning to Camp Coast Care and helping with more housing. From what I’ve seen, the camp will be in operation for years to come.

Imagine, if you will, the typical beach front resort. The streets are lined with souvenir shops, kite stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants, soda fountains, bicycle rental places, and other related businesses. There are also numerous motels and rental beach homes.

On a hot day in May (we experienced temperatures close to 90 degrees all week long), you’d expect to see lots of people on the beach. You might also see a few people flying kites or wind surfing. May is rather early in the season for some beaches, but on the Gulf coast, many of these activities go on all year long.

Now, that you’ve imagined the typical beach resort, let me tell you what we saw.

Over a stretch of more than five miles, we saw one seafood restaurant/bar and three Waffle Houses. (Because of the shape of the typical Waffle House and its brick construction, those building survived Katrina. They were severely damaged, but were much more easily refurbished and reopened than the structures that were leveled by the storm.)

There were no motels, no beach front rental homes, no souvenir shops, no ice cream parlors, no T-shirt shops, and no kite stores. In fact, there were no buildings. I was shown a parking lot that once sat in front of a Wal-Mart, but the store had been totally washed away.

We saw one person (not counting our AmeriCorps youths) on the beach. No one was flying kites; no one was swimming; no one was doing anything to enjoy the sand, sun, and waves. It was like a ghost town.

It appears this will not change for some time to come. Commercial enterprises are staying away because there is no customer base. People are staying away because there are no jobs or shopping facilities.

I forgot to mention that there was one gas station/convenience store near the one marina.

If there is any way for you to help this community that is trying desparately to help itself, please do so. Maybe I’ll run into you at Camp Coast Care sometime in the future.


My Main Aging Problem

April 27, 2009

Pastor Kerry Maurer of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cumming, Georgia likes to begin each service with a joke. He also loves to tell stories to emphasize the important points of his sermons. Many of the members of our congregation find this refreshing and it helps us continue to pay attention long after most preachers would have sent us off to dreamland.

Personally, I have a problem with his jokes and stories. That problem has nothing to do with my personal spiritual beliefs or my sense of propriety. (Come to think of it, my sense of propriety is probably terribly lacking.)

In truth, I think having a Pastor with a sense of humor is a good thing. I also think relating stories – some of which are very personal for Pastor Kerry – adds greatly to his sermons, and does encourage us to stay awake.

So, what’s my problem?

I’ve heard the jokes and stories before.

As soon as Pastor Kerry begins one of his jokes or stories, I recognize it and instantly remember the punch line or the moral or message behind the story. It then becomes a matter of observing his delivery and looking for embellishments. I try not to notice when he skips details… unless those details are important to the punch line. In truth, he has blown a couple of jokes, but I’ll forgive him. Long ago I learned that clerics are also human.

A couple of weeks ago, after listening to another perfectly good story I’d heard before, I came to the conclusion that my problem is my age and memory. I wondered how many stories and jokes there are and what percentage of them I’d already heard. It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Am I doomed? Will I never again hear a new joke or story?

Let it be duly noted that around election time we hear many jokes about the competing candidates. However, in most cases, the jokes are old. The names of the people being made fun of are the only things that change.

This past Sunday, Pastor Kerry told about presiding over a service for a group of Lutheran women from all across North Georgia. When he began to describe having lunch with an eighty-eight year-old woman who had just gotten married for the fourth time, I knew he was telling a joke rather than relating a true experience.

I began searching through my memory banks for the punch line so I could devote my time to observing his delivery. Alas! I could not find it. Thus, I concentrated on the details of the story.

It seems the little old lady began her adult life by marrying a banker. After twenty years of marriage, the man passed away. A year or so later, she married an actor. Several years later, he passed on. After a reasonable mourning period, the lady married a Pastor. They had a good life together, but shortly after he retired, he too went to meet his maker.

The lady was now a relative newly wed. She and her fourth husband had wed about six months ago. When Pastor Kerry asked what this man did for a living, the woman said, “the man is an undertaker.”

Pastor Kerry then commented on the wide ranging vocations of her husbands. At that point, the little old lady explained that it was exactly as she had planned it when she was a little girl.

And here comes the punch line…

The lady said, “I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go!”

I recognized the joke when he got to “for the money”.

Yes. I’d heard it before. But I didn’t recognize it until the beginning of the punch line.

And that has me worried. Am I now facing another senior citizen problem, or was this just a fluke?

I’m sure Pastor Kerry will continue using jokes and stories in his sermons. I’ll have to continue to closely monitor them to determine a proper diagnosis.

Obviously I won’t be napping during his sermons anytime soon.


Early St. Pat’s

March 14, 2009

Today is our St. Patrick’s Irish Dinner Gala fund raiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. That means my bride and I will be gone most of the day and evening.

Yesterday I did the shopping. Fifty pounds of corned beef, thirty pounds of lamb, five pounds of beef, and a ton of vegetables. I also bought a case or two of Guinness Stout – for medicinal purposes only.

In truth, the corned beef will be boiled in the stout and the gravy for the lamb and beef stew – actually two different stews – will include a liberal dose of the Irish elixir of the gods.

We’ll start cooking around 11:00 AM. Once we’re satisfied with the progress, we’ll all go home long enough to shower and rest a bit. Perhaps I’ll enjoy a pint to help me relax.

Then, we’ll be back at Christ the King Lutheran church to finish the food preparation and begin serving at 6:00 PM. Our best pretty good band from Cumming, Georgia will begin performing Irish music at 6:15 and continue until 7:00. During that time, the diners will be invited to sing along… as long as their mouths are empty.

At 7:00, the auction will begin. There will be three vacations at cabins in the mountains up for sale along with a big screen TV, a couple of bicycles, an exercise machine, and some other items offered.

Following the auction, Nostalgia – the aforementioned pretty good band – will provide some more Irish music before the evening comes to a close.

Hopefully our efforts will do well in raising money for a most worthy cause.

If you’re in the area, feel free to drop in.