People DO Want To Help a Mother Out
I haven’t produced a live event of any magnitude since our wedding in 2002 (that’s right our 10-year anniversary is coming up). At the time, I was only 30, child-free and full of energy.
Now I am a haggard 40-year-old wife and mother of two with a part time job, a lovely home, school crap to handle, and this need to help get diapers to babies who don’t have enough of them that is like heartburn. It’s not always at the forefront of my mind, but when it creeps up on me, it’s actually painful.
I’ve been working with Help a Mother Out for three years now. I finally formed an advisory council here in Los Angeles because I know I haven’t been very effective on my own, and there are several lovely people here who feel as passionate about helping other families as I do. Not only did I want help, but I also wanted to give other people the opportunity to make a difference in a more visible way.
Los Angeles Advisory Council:
Julia Frey - Writer/Producer
Sarah Auerswald - co-Founder of MomsLA.com.
Jeannine Chanin-Penn - owner | xoj9 | event curator
Kate Wilkinson - Founder RetroModernMom.com
Yvonne Condes, Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA.com
Andrea Fellman – Publisher of Savvy Sassy Moms
Also this year I was able to travel up to the Bay Area to be present at HAMO’s Second Annual Benefit Tea. I was unprepared for the scope of the event, I will admit. Initially I had planned to attend as a guest and network with the Bay Area supporters and donors. But at the last minute, co-founder Lisa Truong asked me to stage-manage. No big deal, I’m a producer. I was happy to step in.
What I found when I arrived was an event that was as big in scale and grandeur as a wedding. The venue was the San Francisco War Memorial, a majestic building across from City Hall where the opera performs. Our spot was The Green Room which is an enormous event space that comfortably sat 200 guests. Each table was hosted by a HAMO supporter who dressed and set the seats with complete tea service. A donor provided cheese for a fancy cheese buffet which was set up on the balcony outside that overlooks downtown San Francisco. There was a bar. There were passed tea sandwiches. There were tiny, exquisite cupcakes.
And the program of the event itself was nothing short of inspiring, which was the whole point anyway, right? Momversation was the title sponsor and they showed the highlight reel of their newly re-launched video website. Several speakers gave testimonial speeches that support why we do what we do. We showed the documentary video that Truong produced just for this very occasion. And then board member Catherine Hazelton asked for money.
I was very impressed by how simple and fluid her speech was. She made it seem so obvious – of course we need money. We need lots of it. And of course everyone there should fill out a pledge card and have their employers match their gifts. She was earnest and assertive and did not shrink from her duty to ask.
Sometimes, that makes all the difference.
I was as exhausted at the end of the benefit as I was after childbirth, perhaps, except without the benefit of spine-numbing drugs. After all, I had run back and forth across that event space all morning (in flip flops, because at least I was prepared for that part – changing into heels as the guests arrived).
The pledges are still being processed. HAMO was able to raise some good money at this event, and we continue to do so via our online fundraiser site as well. Momversation is currently holding a virtual diaper drive on their own site. People are helping. It’s very inspiring. The end result is that more babies who might not otherwise have them will get clean diapers. The ripple effect is that their moms or dads will be freed of that worry and able to focus on earning money to feed the babies. And the effects go on.
I want to include a special thank-you to my friend Alyssa Brennan. She was my handler and PA all weekend, and even took me out to dinner and drove me to a couple of stops on the Nerd Tour of Silicon Valley the night before. She filled in the gaps during the event: she put together 200 name tags, sweet-talked a reluctant volunteer, chatted up guests at my table, brought me my shoes, and generally provided a calm, supportive presence throughout the entire experience. I love you, man.