No, this time it’s not Lady Gaga. Instead, we and the rest of the soup kitchen commission are organizing a big benefit concert for next weekend. It will feature a handful of local groups followed by the big name: Marcelo Rojas, an internationally renowned harpist who hails from none other than Yuty. And the best news of all is my parents are flying down to attend this big event with us! Or at least it’s a happy accident that they will be here in time for the concert. I’m so ready to see them!
It all started when the soup kitchen commission held a phone-a-thon a few months ago. We took over both local radio stations one Sunday morning and, with the help of the regular DJs, asked the town to collaborate with our efforts to continue providing lunch and support to community children three days a week. We were generously met with donations of money, food, clothing, and even a refrigerator – something we greatly needed.
And then Marcelo called. He’s one of those cinderella stories, so when he called, the whole town listened. He offered to travel to Yuty and perform, with all the proceeds of the event going to the soup kitchen. More often than not, the soup kitchen struggles to make ends meet month-to-month (hmm…we’re working on that) so this was a huge opportunity and we started planning right away. The commission’s efforts impressed me. We’ve met nearly once a week for the last couple of months to give each other updates and ensure that all the little things are getting done.
They even played along as we pulled out some tools we learned during training, like making an “Excel Unplugged” spreadsheet (which is a huge piece of paper with drawn grids) to record all the tasks that needed to be done, who was in charge of that task and by what date it needed to be completed. A smiley or frowny face represented the progress of that task and has been fun and motivating.
But here’s where things get honest. Even the best made plans don’t always work out. I think we priced ourselves right out of the market when we set out to sell tickets for Gs. 25.000 each, around $5. We wanted people to think of this as a collaboration opportunity and oh yeah, you get to attend this cool concert as a bonus. But it’s more than most fundraising efforts and although Marcelo is a big name and people want to attend, most aren’t able to afford it. If you multiply the ticket price by a whole family, it quickly adds up.
And that’s how we find ourselves a week away from the event with only a handful of tickets sold.Total for the whole commission. Yikes. Even when, in the spirit of those big thermometers in the hallways of my elementary school measuring how many books the school had read, I whipped up some refrigerator encouragement for Isaiah and I to sell, sell, sell. We’re stuck at 9. The good news is a week is plenty of time to sell tickets as we just don’t do things as early here as in the States. The other good news is that we’ve called the commission together tomorrow for an emergency meeting to (hopefully) cut the price of the tickets. We can’t have a concert without an audience, so something needs to change. And like the lesson I learned from Nalena (she’ll understand), we still have time to make this right!
So here’s hoping for a successful meeting tomorrow and an even more successful concert next Saturday, for the good of the beloved soup kitchen.