As a group, we learn as we go along. Here at A Little Something, we're making a lot of notes. The latest would be: No more events that take place on AstroTurf. No unshaded events in July. Label the boxes. Hang the banner on the canopy before raising it to its full height and you realize the tallest person in the group is 5' 4". Have a lot of safety pins and S-hooks on hand. Figure out why the women are so resistant to using a crimp tool.
The list goes on. We have another list, too:
Try every event until we find what works best for us. Involve the girls. Don't be shy about asking for volunteers to help work the sales. Don't forget: Lots of people want to help; they're just waiting to be asked.
The event we attended on Sunday was challenging in some ways, but a delightful surprise in others. The event itself was faith-based in nature, and we weren't sure how our project would fit in. Since our project is an offshoot of the CRESL In-Home tutoring Program, though, it seemed like a no-brainer to have both groups represented.
I have never spent any quality time on AstroTurf before. It's...bizarre. We were very careful not to drag the canopy or tables across the fake grass as we positioned everything during setup. Susan brought three of the Somali Bantu teen girls with her, and together, we made a great team. We just weren't fast enough setting up.
We got the jewelry part of the booth set up, but before we could arrange everything for the home tutoring program's side of the booth, we were flooded with customers. The cyclists from the Sea to Sea bike tour were very happy, indeed, to be able to buy beautiful, meaningful souvenirs from Denver that were not only special but that could be easily tucked into the tiny bit of storage the cyclists had available. Ah, we were selling the right thing!
Throughout the morning, our booth was filled with visitors. Some came to shop, while others came simply to find out what we were all about. Many had heard of the home tutoring program and wanted to know how they could help. Many of our customers were very generous not only in their purchases, but also in telling us to "keep the change" as we wrote up their sales.
We've had our share of events where few people showed an interest in what we were trying to accomplish. They saw only merchandise and didn't wish to go beyond that. Sunday was different, though. Susan and I were educators and advocates, and we appreciated the opportunity to teach others about the positive parts of the federal refugee resettlement program.
Did I mention it was hot on Sunday? My all-things-sports expert informed me that on a sunny day, the temperature on the football field would be about ten degrees hotter than ambient temperature elsewhere. Indeed. The temperature in Denver was 97 degrees, but at Englewood High School, it was about 107 degrees on the field. Mercy.
Susan never, ever complains, but I easily make up for that personality trait. I tried not to fuss about the heat too much, but I was very uncomfortable. As it turns out, the event wrapped up early. The heat made me start thinking that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me to keep spending so much of my free time volunteering for this cause. I definitely had a few minutes of, "Why do we even bother..." since it was almost unbearably hot out. I looked at all of the stuff we had to pack up and all I could think was, "I just don't want to do this."
Almost on cue, a group of about seven or eight people seemed to materialize out of nowhere. One of them called out, "Hi! Do you need some help getting packed up and loaded?" And there was our salvation. Many hands really do make light work. We got the booth taken care of and my car loaded in a fraction of time it normally takes.
I don't even know how much money we actually made. I'm still too tired to put on my accountant hat. It doesn't matter. I mean, the women will be happy to be paid, but I know I speak for Susan and myself when I say that the day had other contributions for us. To know that we got people thinking about the refugee situation here and worldwide, to know that we may have recruited volunteers or even inspired someone to volunteer at a resettlement agency or a school is payment enough.
We both meet a lot of people in the course of our day, but some of the friendliest and most sincere we've ever met were with us on the blistering green AstroTurf on Sunday.