This first semester of my senior year as a social work undergrad has kept me busy, even more so than I could have expected. Yet it has undeniably been a rewarding experience in every way imaginable. Not only have I honed valuable skills that I will use in my profession, but I have also been part of experiences which have further strengthened my excitement and resolve. One such experience, and my first big project going into this semester. was Cheers to Education. Cheers to Education is the Consensus Organizing Center’s annual fundraiser, held for the purpose of funding the Rise Up Program, a college accessibility program for youth in the foster care system. In all honesty, it seemed somewhat overwhelming at first. The fundraiser depended on securing prizes from businesses in the San Diego area (although sometimes extending as far as Temecula) to be used in a series of raffles and silent auctions. To that end, there was a list of almost one hundred and fifty businesses and restaurants to reach out to. Needless to say, it seemed like a lot to deal with.
At that moment, however, I remembered the wise saying “divide and conquer”. The locations on the spreadsheet were somewhat randomly arranged, but I knew that many of these locations could be grouped into certain geographical areas, like parks and shopping centers. So, before even attempting to begin the contacting process, I started dividing up the businesses into geographical locations, such as Balboa Park, Grossmont Center, Mission Valley etc. Once that had been done, I went through the list and made a sublist of locations that required donation requests to be made through applications. I took care of those first, due to the more formal and time intensive nature of the process. The rest I divided between emails and walk ins. Once the organizational and planning phase was done, the actual process of securing donations came fairly easily. The time required had been minimized, meaning I was able to get to all the businesses on the list and secure over twenty donations for the event.
Doing walk in visits was certainly the newest experience for me in this process. I had never really done anything quite like it before. I was nervous the first time, but my fellow intern, Melanie Mashburn, helped me find my footing during the first outing. After that, it felt very natural and I was completely at ease walking into locations for donations. Once the day for the event came, everything went perfectly. Cheers to Education was a big success. We made over $1,100 that night and everyone had a great time, myself included.
Having discussed the process and experience, it is always important to keep the spirit of the act in mind. Cheers to Education is about bringing people and organizations together to give back to the community. In just a few days, Giving Tuesday will be here and will present all of us with another opportunity to do just that. That is why the Consensus Organizing Center will be participating in the 2018 Giving Tuesday Campaign. Strategies and methods may change depending on circumstance, but the heart and soul of our work never does. As one opportunity to do good comes to a satisfying conclusion, another waits to be seized upon. As social workers, it will always be our duty and our privilege to do just that.
By: John Kennon, BSW Intern