Gene Deems roped me into this amazing event. And I thank him for doing it.
About 9 months ago, I was having lunch with Gene somewhere (probably Mission BBQ) and he told me with excitement that he was going to co-chair the Great Give this year. I vaguely recognized the name of the event from years past but I quickly asked him for more detail and explanation. He told me that it was a 24 hour fundraising event for Anne Arundel County nonprofits. Last year all of these nonprofits had raised about $675,000 collectively. I told him that one of my goals was to get even more involved in the community that I grew up in. Being a part of the Great Give seemed like a great match.
The next time Gene and I met for lunch he asked me if I would be interested in being on the Planning Committee for the Great Give. Without a second thought I said “Yes, of course.”
Many months went by and many planning meetings went by. I enjoyed attending the nonprofit video making session put on by Doug Wirth, Stephanie Goldberg and Julian Jaques. Josh Davidsburg of Eye Candy Productions heroically helped with filming the Great Give despite a leg injury. The nonprofits produced some high quality videos which surely drove more donations for them. Congratulations to STAIR of Annapolis, a program that helps second graders who are having reading difficulties, for winning the Great Give video contest! Here is their video.
When the Great Give started at 6 pm on May 5th, there was a lot of social media buzz (go to #ggaac on Twitter to see it) going on all around Anne Arundel County. (There were multiple donation stations set up at restaurants across Anne Arundel County.) That first hour brought in the most money for the Great Give. I previously talked about the Great Give Happy Hour that I attended here. Thanks again to Sam’s on the Waterfront for hosting us and enabling us to get donations for our station.
That night I went to bed worried since it didn’t seem like we were close to our goal of $750,000. I woke up worried because the number hadn’t change too drastically over night. I got out of bed and went to Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurant where the Samaritan House was hosting a “Burritos for Beds” Breakfast Club fundraiser. The Breakfast Club is an award for the most donations for a nonprofit in the breakfast hour from 8-9. With Margo Speciale, Kevin Washington and Lea Hurt’s passion, energy and enthusiasm, the Samaritan House was able to win the Breakfast Club and secure an extra $1,000 for Sam House. (Samaritan House also ended up raising over $72,000! This number more than doubled their total from 2014.) Key School gave them a challenge for the Breakfast Club award but lost that battle. (Subsequently, Key School won the overall money award with about 6 big donations at the 11th hour. Key School has won the award for most money raised the last two years.) Donna Cole of Annapolis Creative was supporting an impressive amount of nonprofits, including Samaritan House, the Key School, the Ballet Theatre of Maryland and Sustainafest.
The money being raised was steady throughout the day but no significant jumps. #GGAAC was trending on Twitter from all the social media buzz and chatter that the 186 nonprofits were contributing too.
I got to the Great Give party at the Loews Hotel in Annapolis right at 5pm. I immediately saw Gene Deems there with a Great, Great Give Tie on. He whispered to me, “We did it!” Meaning that we had surpassed our $750,000 goal. This was great news!
Gene also told me of how he just met a woman from a nonprofit who began to cry when she found out how much money was raised for her nonprofit and how much that money would positively influence her nonprofit. He had made a big impact on her life.
After a technical hiccup, we found out that the Great Give had really surpassed all of our expectations and had raised $907,997.00 for 186 Anne Arundel County nonprofits.
Having the opportunity to meet and help all of these nonprofits in the county I have grown up in means so much. Anne Arundel County is the best place to work, play and live.
The Anne Arundel County Community Foundation has accomplished so much under Bess Langbein’s leadership as the Executive Director there. Bess stepping down is a huge loss for Anne Arundel County and I can only hope someone can come close to filling her shoes. I have known Bess since high school. She was the fearless Captain of the field hockey and lacrosse teams at that time. We are going to sorely miss her leadership at the helm of the Anne Arundel Community Foundation. Thank you, Bess!
I’m excited to be involved in this magnificant event for years to come! 🙂