It takes a village

Blacksburg Middle School Guidance Counselor Tammy Heft buzzed her hair for Special Love.
Blacksburg Middle School Guidance Counselor Tammy Heft buzzed her hair for Special Love.

If you’ve ever been to a Special Love event you know it’s a complex beast.  There are days to plan, activities to coordinate, staff to wrangle, meals to arrange, transportation to worry about, lodging to assign, and all that before the first campers and staff show up to check in.  But above and beyond all of that is the other side of Special Love: fundraising.  For those who, like me, exist primarily on the programs side of the house, fundraising always seems to happen by magic.  Every so often we’ll pose for a nice group picture and everyone will smile and hold a banner saying “thank you” to some generous people or company that made an event possible, but I can’t honestly say that we spend a lot of time thinking about where the money comes from or how its raised.


And that’s as it should be; the focus at events is and should be on the kids and on giving them the best camp experience possible.


But you start out with this organization as a camper; you go on to become a counselor; then a few decades down the line you figure “hey, how hard can this fundraising thing be?”


The answer?  It’s super hard.


Tomorrow morning the first (annual, we hope) “Taking It All Off For Camp” fundraiser kicks off at Virginia Tech.  Sponsored by the Friends of Special Love at Virginia Tech and in partnership with Buzzing For Change, the event is our first major foray into South Western Virginia; we’re hoping to raise both money and awareness of Special Love and so far we’ve already had tremendous success with both.  But the real goal — a successful event on campus which lays the foundation for a multi-year fundraising presence in the Virginia Tech community — is still up in the air.  After months of planning, organization, recruitment, pavement pounding, and networking it all comes down to turnout on a Sunday over parents weekend and we honestly have no idea how that will go.


Fundraising, as it turns out, is harrowing stuff.


So as excited and glad as we are to do what we can down here in South Western Virginia, I know I speak for all of us when I say that we’re glad that camp isn’t riding on our shoulders alone.  So the next time you see Robin – our development director – give her a big hug, and the next time you’re asked to pose for a camp portrait with a “thank you” sign, put on your very best smile. As wonderful and inspiring as camp and the great people who volunteer their time to run it are, the folks who raise the money to pay for the facilities and supplies play an equally vital and absurdly stressful part in doing what we do.


And they deserve a big “How! How!”