The saga of the volunteer appreciation luncheon concludes

Today was The Big Day, the day all of the overplanning and underimplementing of the past week would decohere into either a sigh-of-relief success or a complete and utter fiasco.

Or, perhaps, you’d care to choose door number three…the qualified success spiced with maddeningly not-quite-failure seasoning and topped with moments of “well, that went well.”

The food arrived as ordered and as delicious as expected…and 15 minutes early, which is just long enough to make you positively anxious that the ice will melt into a chilled puddle of filtered water before the guests arrive, but not enough time to make carrying it downstairs and through the school to the cafeteria freezer, and then back up again, worth the effort involved.

We got the tables papered, moved, rearranged and set up at a pace that left me and my supervisor breathless and sweaty, since we weren’t able to do it yesterday and had oodles of stuff to get done today. It worked, but I’m betting my shoulder won’t, tomorrow.

We got the gifts de-stickered, wrapped and set out just in time, with the last of the “special recognition” gifts being wrapped as the guests began (very slowly) trickling in.

The guests arrived…starting late enough into the timeline to make me begin to hyperventilate. It was 15 after before more than three had shown up.

Sent out over 70 invitations, although many were more courtesy invitations than expected attendances. Expected maybe 25. Got about a dozen. On the one hand, these included most of the core volunteers who were receiving special recognition. OTOH, one core group never got their invitations (mailed to their work place), even though obviously the mailed letters were received by the others. So, tables and food for 30 were occupied by a dozen. Alllllrighty then.

The placemats were a hit! Everyone thought they were cute as heck and took them home with them afterward. Alas, most of them were unused. There are enough placemats for the next decade’s worth of volunteer luncheons. I still have more to laminate. Viva le melty plastic!

The kindergarteners were fantastic! They sang, they charmed and they specially recognized the Foster Grandmothers who work with them everyday with homemade cards and gifts (sure glad I remembered to invite them! WHEW!). That is all. Nothing bad to see here. Move along.

I did my *exceedingly brief* speechifying (I take after my Baptist preacher grampa, who perfected the art of saying grace quickly so he could get to eatin’ before the food got cold) on how every little bit of help makes a difference, then the principal spoke and turned the floor over to the volunteers and it turned into something akin to a testimonial service of heartfelt blessings and generosity. Cool!

Certificates were delivered to volunteer group coordinators…which were just barely printed out on time, as the very last of the color toner for the year ran out. We were literally the last print job out of the tray before they bundled the printer up and stored it, there not being enough of the school year left to justify purchasing a new, expensive cartridge that would then sit and harden up over summer mostly unused.

The luncheon broke up as quietly as it began. A few people took home a plate for those who couldn’t make it. There was plenty left, so I took the remains down to the teachers’ lounge (making enough trips up and down the stairs to ensure that my legs will be right there on the injured players bench with my shoulder tomorrow). Always feed the teachers. They need all the love they can get.

All in all, it worked, by the skin of its teeth. Any fewer people and it would have been desolate (as it was, it was awkwardly sparse). Any broader margin of error on the time and the ice would have been a goner. If anything had gotten done a second later than when it did, the whole damn thing would have unraveled from the neckline down. It didn’t, but I was almost literally holding my breath the entire time.

Glad I’m not doing that again next year. That’s enough event planning for me to last a lifetime.

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One response to “The saga of the volunteer appreciation luncheon concludes

  1. Pingback: Things I did this year for the first time « Getting Things Done: A Year of Service

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