Cambrian: Opinion

In Cambria, the anatomy of a community-building event

It starts with someone getting hurt. Or sick. Or anything beyond one’s capabilities to fully deal with. Or anything that makes others want to jump in and be of help in some way. Unfortunately, this happens more and more lately. People getting sick, that is. Or hurt. Or in need of extra help.

A small group gets together and decides what they might do. Food? Auction? Concert? Great. Now to find a date that will work. Well, Cambria is getting busier and busier, so this can be challenging. One must weigh the attendance factor carefully. Look at community calendars, school calendars, sports calendars, church calendars. … What time?

Will kids be in attendance? Older people? How long will the event last — to coincide with another event, in between events, complimentary to an event, a stand-alone event, one night, one day?

How many people will it take to pull this off? This is a critical factor in the whole concept of an event to make it a success. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it — there has been need for so many of these fundraisers) there are enough people around who have been-there-done-that and can help set up some guidelines.

Lists. Timelines. Materials needed: tickets, paper plates, groceries. A place. Our fortune extends also to having a fabulous social center right in the middle of town at the Vets Hall, for large crowds. But it’s busy, so book early.

Publicity. Volunteer coordinating. Contacting. Cooking. Packing. Serving. The ever-needed cleaning up. There’s a job for everyone and anyone. Sometimes there are so many bodies a crumb does not have a chance to rest on the floor for more than 10 seconds. Not a bad thing. Our neighbor/friend is in need. Let’s do this right.

And then the rest of the community. I’ve seen this happen often. I’ve done it plenty myself whenever I am able. A drive-through cashing. “No, I don’t need the dinner but wanted to contribute.” Kind of like the drive-through at Rabobank. A direct deposit into the bank of good juju.

Did I mention the businesses? The artists? The service clubs? All the (insert urbane expletive for emphasis) people who donate food, jewelry, paintings, paper goods, hours and hours of preparation and serving? It’s not only the physical substance or time — it is the heart that goes into every act of generosity here. Numerous conversations in the ticket line echoed, “I’ve been to so many of these things, but they are never as special as they are here in this town!”

Exhausted, greasy, emotionally elated, you look back over the days/night, count the 800 tickets (could that be right?), fold up the tables, top off the evening with a celebratory nightcap at the Legion bar and notice how much higher everyone’s chests look, their hearts a little lighter for knowing they’ve done good. One can’t help but smile. “This is what it’s all about. This is why we live in Cambria!”

Let me rephrase the very first line of this column: “It starts with an incredibly caring and generous community.” Thank you all.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at ltd@ lady tie di .com, or visit her website at www .lady tie di .com.