Long gone are the days when, as the sole employee/program director, I would wrap up the school year and essentially take the summer off. These days, Volunteers for Youth employs six project directors and two assistants, and I am the Executive Director. A fledgling organization with a single, school-based mentoring program has evolved into one that is regionally recognized and supports an additional five projects all focused on making Rogers County youth successful. This means no more summers off!
The weekend that school ended in May we hosted our first fundraiser event of the year which was a tennis tournament called Serve For Youth. Nearly 30 teams competed in the doubles brackets along with a few men’s singles entries. Over $2,400 was our profit from the event.
One week later we “kicked off” our annual Green Country All Stars event. This unique event is a favorite of mine because, while it does serve as a fundraiser, it also allows us to shine the spotlight on successful senior athletes from around our area.
The concept began in the early 1990's when our local Lions Club began hosting an all star football game for graduating senior football players who were nominated to play by their coaches. In the early years of Volunteers for Youth, we needed a fundraising event, and my husband suggested that I contact the Lions Club and see if we could tag onto their success and add basketball games for boys and girls on the same weekend.
That is when Green Country All Star Weekend was born. The next year we added baseball, followed the next year by softball and later cheerleaders were nominated and selected as well. Hundreds of fans attend the two days of sports hosted by an area high school’s athletic facilities. We rally dozens of volunteers to take gate admissions, run score clocks, be announcers, and sell gate admissions/t-shirts/programs. Advertisement spots are sold in the program and sponsors are solicited to add to the revenue produced. The event annually brings in anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000.
|Waterfront Frames & Art|
Four weeks after All Stars, we held a brand new fundraising event called a Chair-ity Auction. Heavy promotion helped us exceed all expectations for a first-time event, and we were extremely pleased with our nearly $4,000 profit. Although we learned lessons and made notes for next time, it was exciting to have 36 live auction items (mostly creatively re-purposed chairs) all contributed by friends of our organization.
|The Elks Club|
|BLAST Summer Camp Participants|
|Youth to Youth Conference|
Our highest producing fundraiser each year is our Smokin’ Hot 100 Golf Marathon, which took place at our local golf course on July 22nd. Not a typical golf tournament, it generates considerably more money.
Our participants agree to play 100 holes of golf in the July heat and self-pledge at $1.00 per hole. They also agree to seek out matching pledge support from their own network of friends, family and co-workers. Playing 100 holes is made possible due to some modified rules, but it is still A LOT OF GOLF swings resulting in soreness, sunburn and glorious fatigue. This year we will once again raise $25,000 from this single event.
|Andrew V, Kayla & Cindy V|
|Mendy, Trisha, Linda & Judi|
|Making ice cream|
Each summer we also plan a picnic get-together for our PAL mentor/mentee pairs so they have at least one opportunity to see each other while out of school. We call it our “tors & tees” picnic.
This year it was held on Saturday, July 26th at our newly renovated Will Rogers Park, which features a splash pad.
|Damien & Kit|
The kids and mentors made homemade ice cream in a bag which was quite fun, delicious & messy! We love our local Sonic manager who never tells us “no” and she donated the corn dogs for the event.
|Katelyn & Miranda shake ice cream pack|
|They survived...and not just the Smokin' Hot 100 Golf Marathon!|
The following Monday week two of summer BLAST camp began, and we had 45 kids from 4th to 8th grade all day long each day. Just about the same amount of kids attended week one back in June. This is a highly organized, action-packed week of fun for the kids including field trips and lots of physical fitness. My job is to teach tennis every afternoon for about 90 minutes…I love it!
We have enjoyed a fairly quite month of August so far, but school starts this week at all of our schools so we’re getting ready to kick into high gear again.
On August 23rd, we will be one of the featured organizations in our local Dancing with the Stars event. This is the second year for the event, which is put together by our Reveille Rotary Club. Held in our beautiful Performing Arts Center, the format closely follows the real Dancing With the Stars from television. I will once again be co-emcee, and the couple representing our organization is our PAL Project Director, Celina Davis, and our mentor of the year, Gus Ramirez. Dancing the Mambo, they will portray themselves as Lucy & Ricky. We’re going for another Judges Choice victory again this year!
Other events on the horizon will be those organized by our local United Way during the campaign, our annual Board Retreat, and an all-county principals/counselors luncheon that we host each year in September.
Whew! Where did the good ole days go?