Posted on December 27, 2011
Glacial Multimedia Hosts Fundraiser and Sends Team to Honduras with Dr. Carlos Martinez
Like so many stories of good will that began as a tiny seedling, Michael Dobkowski’s routine business trip to visit a client this May turned into something much bigger than just business-as-usual. With the marketing reports put away and the conversation drifting from business towards friendly chatter, Michael soon learned that Dr. Carlos Martinez had a heart for volunteer work. Martinez, an eye surgeon from Los Angeles, had teamed up with another doctor (Ron David, MD of Virginia) to volunteer time and medical skills at a makeshift hospital in the rural outposts of San Lorenzo, Honduras. After listening to Dr. Martinez relay his experiences in the impoverished nation, Michael knew that the grassroots humanitarian effort was a small drop in the bucket of overwhelming need and human despair. Touched and impressed by Dr. Martinez’s sincerity, Michael returned back to the East Coast determined to help him.
Upon hearing about the conversation with Dr. Martinez, the rest of the Glacial team quickly adopted Michael’s enthusiasm to help out. Armed with fresh outlooks, excitement to be a part of something meaningful, sparkling creativity, some cold Dos Equis and an anesthetic dose of naivete, we began gathering after work on the outdoor deck of the neighboring Blue Burrito Cafe. The early June sun was bright, the trees were full of tender new green leaves, and, like Freshmen discussing world peace on the college green, we relaxed in the shade of the colorful patio umbrellas and volleyed ideas back and forth. What did we have to offer? Our services in web design and social media? How could we turn that into dollars? What about a fundraiser? Golf tournaments, formal dinners with guest speakers, a wine tasting and an auction… who did we know in radio and television, who would we invite, and more importantly, who would ante up some beautifully obscene amounts of money to attend? Important names and places were jotted down on napkins, to-do lists were scribbled in notebooks. The ideas were overflowing.
(And at Happy Hour, all ideas are amazing)
But June quickly turned into July, and once the mid-summer axis was crested, the days began speeding forward on their rail towards autumn. Without discussion, we abandoned the Happy Hour planning sessions in the face of a heavy Q3 workload. Weeks rocketed past. Ideas still circulated through the office via IM, but never went anywhere. The nagging presence of indecision and the looming threat of a deadline now skulked in every corner of the office, clouding any memory of idyllic Happy Hour sessions. The planning committee’s once-sunshiney group emails that popped up in inboxes– to remind and inspire people to “keep on brainstorming”– had now begun to take on a slightly menacing tone imploring everyone to “just decide on something already. Anything.”
Thankfully, fate intervened via business trip once again. Michael had just returned, and was relaying an elevator conversation he’d had with someone about their MadMen themed party, when he paused suddenly to ask us how our own party-plan was shaping up. “Well, funny you should ask, Michael…” And desperately hopeful that Michael’s idea would take root, the planning committee packaged it in one more last-ditch sunshiney group email and held its breath.
Could it be true? Was the entire office unanimously excited about a MadMen theme? The planning committee exhaled, and people began making eye contact with them again as they passed by in the hallways. The game was back on. Venues, event promotion, posters, a band, photographers, media coverage…
The office was buzzing with discussions about what dresses would be worn, and who would go as which character.
Landing pages, Facebook pages, QR codes, guest lists…
People would totally want to go to our party! Who would not want to dress up like a MadMen character? In fact, it was going to be so awesome, we would probably sell out of tickets because the entire city would show up at our door.
Streaming videos, liquor licenses, canvassing the city with glossy posters, chatting up local businesses, satellite ticket locations, media networking, event pages…
We were on fire! Reaching our fundraising goal was a sure bet now. Actually, we would probably double it. Maybe we could find one of those sweepstakes-style giant cardboard checks to present to Dr. Martinez? In front of a crowd? With press reporters?
Sponsorship letters were drafted, re-drafted….. and drafted again. Tax ID numbers. 501c3 fine print. Mass-emailing contact databases. Cold-calling potential corporate sponsors…
It was almost October. Three more weeks to go. All we had to do now was sit back and watch the money rolllllll in.
Yup. Just sit right back and watch.
For it to rollllll in.
Any day now. It should be here. Annnnnny time now.
[Insert chirping cricket noises here]
And here’s the funny truth about fundraising events (and life in general): It’s really easy to spend the money dreaming it up and putting it together, but it’s another thing to actually raise any money from doing it. Blame it on any number of factors: Tighter household budgets and continued economic fears, Reluctance to give to an unfamiliar cause, Skepticism that the money will go to funding the charity itself instead of to those in need, and the big reason… Questioning why we should give more to another country when there’s already so much need right here in America. In those final, crucial weeks, we hit wall after wall of rejection from the public. But despite our fundraising flop, this isn’t the end of the story. The phone rang. Dr. Martinez and his family wanted to fly out and speak to all of us in person.
That’s right. Dr. Martinez was so touched by our sincerity that he wanted to come visit us.
That was the moment I realized that grandiose ideas and huge efforts are great, but they can’t replace the “grassrootDr. Carlos E. Martinez and Glacial Partner Michael J. Dobkowski s” relationships you make along the way. On the night of the would-be fundraiser, about fifty of us gathered in Michael’s home to meet Dr. Martinez in person. We piled into the living room, cramming onto sofas and perching on armchairs, and listened to him tell us about Honduras. We got to see pictures of the people he had operated on, and how a cataract surgery could alter the course of someone’s life. We got to ask questions about his work, and tell him about the reluctance we encountered… and we got to see how much this work meant to him. After that night, donations started roll in from people who wanted to support Dr. Martinez personally– from Michael’s long-time friends and colleagues to the Glacial staff and their families themselves. And while we didn’t raise enough money for our original goal of 25 people to have surgery, we did raise enough for 10 people.
Glacial will be meeting those 10 people next week when a small team of us joins Dr. Martinez in Honduras to film a documentary on his work. Our goal is to shed some light on the situation in Honduras, and the desperate need for help. One of the formats we’re considering is to take all of the concerns and skepticisms we encountered from the public, and to address them one by one in this documentary. Hopefully, by showing people here what the need actually looks like and exactly where their money would be going, some of the resistance to charitable giving would be eased. Our rough-draft plan is to document not only the work being done right at the clinic, but to travel up into the surrounding villages of Nacaome and El Caimito and interview the people there to give it a broader context. We hope to have the documentary cut and edited by mid-Spring. In the meantime, I invite you to sign up for this blog as (technology permitting) I will give a daily account of our experiences in southern Honduras over the next few weeks.
A sincere Thank You to everyone who helped to make this happen, by way of hard work and financial contributions.
A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS, INCLUDING:
Alan Trombley Construction
James and Beth Guy
John and Ann Marie McLaughlin
Bruce and Cyrilla Dobkowski
Karen M. Rogers
Michael J. Dobkowski
Adam W. Pelletier
R. Evan Justice and Janet B. Caner
James R. Viccaro
Jennifer S. Klopp
Pamela Sukeforth Jones
Bath Savings Institution
Allagash Brewing Company
South Coast Retina Center
And for all of your hard work and willingness to put in hours outside, a big thanks to the Glacial Multimedia team, including: Michael Dobkowski, Maxim Havlicek, Katherine Gifford, Samantha Galligan, Katie Conroy, and Karen Rogers, with especial gratitude to:
Jaclyn Pitcairn– for doing the things nobody else wanted to, like cold-calling, mass emailings, and 501c(3) tax status research.
Tonya Collins– for helping to draft, re-draft, and proofread endless versions of sponsorship letters.
Ashley Hopkins– for being a guiding light through the vast universe of networking and corporate sponsorship opportunities.
Bruce Dobkowski– for working every angle in the local business community, and being an endless wellspring of optimism.
Jeremy Lindemann– for constantly dropping everything to do all the techie stuff like QR codes and landing pages…
you guys are fantastic.