Step Right Up…

i Nov 10th No Comments by

Each year, the ARL holds an annual gala.  This event is an excuse to break out your fancy dress and spend an evening benefiting Berks County’s Homeless Pets. This year was my fourth gala (my second as an employee) and maybe I’m biased, but I think this event just keeps getting better.

This year’s event brought 400 animal-loving friends to the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing for a Carnival themed evening.  There were sideshow performers, a tarot card reader, adoptable dogs on the midway and a tent filled with four-legged wonders.  Tons of amazing items were available at our drawing table, silent auction table and in our live auction.  We premiered a video created for us by Schott Productions (view it here!), we chose the winners of our cat mural contest and the Mexican Vacation raffle.  Chad & Tiffany Billingsley presented a check for just over $26,000. There was music and dancing and food and of course- tons of fun!

Planning an event of this size takes an army of people.  We have an event coordinator, Carolyn, who oversees a committee of volunteers that includes myself and the ARL’s Development Director along with a few board members and volunteers from our community.  This committee forms and begins planning months in advance.  A theme is selected, sponsorship levels are created and collateral is designed. Two sub-committees are formed – Sponsorship & Auction – and we talk to everyone we know about donating an item or sponsoring the event.  We recruit volunteers, taste test menu options and discuss decor. Press releases are sent, ads placed, Facebook posts are scheduled.  Test runs of processes like registration and check-out are conducted to head off glitches and a myriad of files are sent off to print.  And then the day finally arrives, and just like a wedding, it’s over in a flash and we didn’t even get to eat.

Anyone who’s ever planned an event before knows the deal…there’s a pretty consistent evolution of emotions:

  • Relaxation: It’s so far away…I’ve got tons of time to do all the things!
  • Excitement: Awesome theme, great ideas, it’s going to be so. much. fun!
  • Overwhelm: Uhhhh – where am I supposed to put all of these auction items?
  • Sheer panic: It’s this week.  Oh no. It can’t be this week.  There’s too much to do!
  • Exhaustion: I’ve just worked 7,416 hours in the past 9 days and I’m seriously doubting my ability to remain conscious for the event.
  • Adrenaline: 3….2….1 – Registration is open!
  • Sheer Panic, part 2: What do you mean the credit card machine isn’t working?!?!?!
  • Elation: We’re done! We did it! We raised a ton of money!!

I can’t even imagine how many hours are devoted to this event by the committee, but I know that we’ve done it for years and we’ll do it for many more. Every year we become more seasoned and put on a better event that is more organized, more fun, attracts more people and raises more money.  We are ever so aware that we couldn’t hold this particular event without a TON of support and are so grateful to our event sponsors, auction item donors, volunteers, the committee and attendees for making 2014 our most successful event to date.  We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!

We’re close to having the final numbers ready, but you can hear an initial tally by tuning in to this week’s podcast by pressing play above.  I spoke with Ashley about the history of the event, the specifics of this year’s event and what we do with the money that’s raised.

If you liked this podcast, you can check out our archive an subscribe to our series here.

Photos by Maria Stamy Photography




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