Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Success, I think

Saturday morning, the big day, the Event. We had planned and organized, made phone calls, solicited sponsors, plotted the agenda, invited dignitaries . . . and of course worked with the Fire Within to get our calendar ready for sale. We had faith that Saturday, September 11 would dawn crisp and cool, a brilliantly sunny fall day. It would be a "come out and buy calendars" kind of day, in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of eager supporters would swarm to the Stanley Hotel to support their local heroes, the volunteer firefighters.

I awoke to the sound of rain on the historic morning. Not a half-hearted, "sorry to disturb you" kind of rain, but buckets of "take that you crazy people who plan outdoor events in September" kind of rain. Worst of all, it was a "never mind calendars, everybody stay home and sandbag" kind of rain. I think the weather gremlins woke up and realized that, hey, we haven't had our quota of liquid sunshine for 2010, so let's just dump the whole reservoir in one day.

[Side note: Environment Canada had prophesied rain for Saturday since the beginning of the week. I figured we'd be fine. How was I supposed to know that they would make an accurate seven-day prediction for first time in history?]

One bright spot in the gloom was that Stanley lies about 120 kilometres southeast of Upsala. Perhaps, by some miracle, it would be sunny there. The bright spot evaporated an hour and a half later when I picked up the dunk tank, and water still fell from the sky.

By 10:00, the official opening time of the event, the gremlins began to show mercy. Alternately, they may have exhausted their supply of rain. It still wasn't a brilliantly sunny day, but at least we felt safe deflating the life rafts. People started to appear. Calendars started to disappear. One of the organizers conspired against the Neebing Deputy Chief's wife and collected $120 to guilt her into taking the first turn in the dunk tank. People began to sign the silent auction sheets. By noon, the sky and our spirits, had brightened considerably.

The politicians started to wander in around 1:00. Speeches, handshakes, and a moment of silence (in memory of 9/11 victims) briefly paused the activities. Yes, that's me with a microphone, exhorting anyone who would listen to buy a calendar and volunteer (which, incidentally, were the two main objectives of the project).

No event would be complete without a public education booth. Upsala manned this one, with help from Neebing and Oliver Paipoonge.

Thanks to the Ontario Fire Marshal for loaning us the Hazard House to teach young and old about fire safety.

Upsala shared a canopy with the clowns. Was that a not-so-subtle hint?

Here is John Rafferty, ready to take the plunge to support our fire departments.

And here he is taking the plunge. The water was cold, but not as cold as the polar bear plunge he takes in January.

John shunned the microphone, media cameras, and stage, preferring the dunk tank as his chosen platform from which to give encouraging words (and taunts to rally more shots at the target . . . ). He is an expert on dunk tanks, by the way. He has supported fire departments for years by taking the plunge. His comment about the one we rented from Shuniah? It's a high quality tank.

Someday when John Rafferty becomes Prime Minister, this photo will be worth a million bucks. Even if he doesn't become Prime Minister, I will always remember him as a guy who put his words into action at the expense of his person . . . and that is probably the highest compliment I could give a politician.

Here is me, with my son Phillip, doing time in the jail. Phillip's buddy managed to sell his three-calendar ransom first, and is gloating in the foreground.

Here is the Neebing chief, whipping the crowds into a frenzy of baseball throws to dunk MP Rafferty (actually, he's bribing a bunch of kids into participating, but I included this photo to prove that people did actually brave the elements and attend our event). I added five dollars to the pot and took two throws . . . and missed both times.

Was the event a success? It definitely wasn't a failure. We raised over $3000, half from calendar sales, the rest from the silent auction, dunk tank, and other activities. We still have about 400 calendars to sell, so if you want one, let me know. $20 gets you a piece of history, a nice calendar, and the satisfaction of knowing you helped three departments raise money for vital equipment.

A big thank you to the people on our team that, unlike me, don't hate thinking about money (if you're new to the show, and wonder why anyone would hate thinking about money, read my last post). Robert from Neebing garnered support from scores of businesses. Clara and her crew from Neebing Fire Rescue Association hammered out the fine organizational details and shouldered a lot of the financial stress. Both Neebing and Oliver Paipoonge supplied hordes of volunteers for the event. Thanks guys and gals!

For me, the real proof of success will be in the recruitment pudding. Every partner in a joint effort has a goal. My goal was publicity to encourage volunteerism. I think we already achieved some of the publicity part. Click here for a short news clip on the event. Also, the Chronicle Journal published a full-page article that I wrote for their New Horizons publication. It came out the day after the event, and circulated to 50,000 people. Maybe someone in that crowd will get the message and volunteer.

And that will be the real proof of the pudding.


  1. I'd like to sign up to volunteer. My response time may be a little long, but I do what I can :)

    BTW, it looks beautiful there--rain and all...

  2. When you get your personal jet, let me know. I'll have a set of gear with your name on it :-)

    It is nice and green here. We're at the end our wildland fire season, and it will be white in another month or so.


Have a comment? Go for it! It's lonely out here in bloggerland . . .

Search This Blog