Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's all in the Details

Here at Senior Citizen Services, we recently held our 21st celebration of “A Meal to Remember” which benefits Meals On Wheels Atlanta. The evening was a success with 255 people in attendance. We raised nearly $360,000 in a touch economy.

It is sometimes mind boggling how many little details can get in the way of throwing what is basically a dinner party.

In May, I visited with the Police Department to get the applications I would need to complete for our “special event permit.” Two applications must be completed (no photocopies) and notarized. I scheduled my appointment with an investigator and met with him only to be told that I had been given the wrong forms. I headed back to the office with the correct forms, completed those, had those forms notarized and went back to the police department.

My paperwork was in order for the police department ($25) and then I started the inspection process. Even though our event is held at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, every year, fire ($30), health ($75), and building ($50) inspections must be completed. I knew from previous experience that I must call everyday to ensure that the inspections were completed and turned into the police department. For two weeks, I left messages with my investigator who never called me back. I finally drove downtown to the licensing division and was told that the investigator was out of the office for the past two weeks and that no one was checking her voice mail or returning phone calls.

The investigator’s supervisor told me that none of my inspections were completed. I then started the phone calls to each department. After many phone calls and faxes (the city of Atlanta must not use email), I was finally assured that my inspections were turned in. I also requested that each department fax a copy of the inspection to me for my files.

I then was scheduled to go before the Licensing Board for the City of Atlanta to answer a few questions. They recommended that I receive the special event permit. A few days later I receive a phone call from the Mayor’s Office stating that they did not have the necessary health permit. I faxed my copy to them since it would probably take a few days for the health department. A couple of days later, I picked up the City Special Event Permit.

Then, the process began for the State of Georgia permit ($25). Since time is of the essence, I hand delivered my application to the state offices. A couple of weeks later I started phone calling to find out where my permit was. After leaving numerous voice messages and talking to six different people, I was finally told that there was a problem. Because we had wine in our auction, I must also apply for the necessary wine auction permit. That form was faxed to me; I completed that paperwork, and went back to the state offices to drop it off (another $25).

A few days and dollars later, I had the necessary paperwork to serve alcohol at the Ritz-Carlton for the annual “A Meal to Remember.” This year was an easy year compared to some years with getting permits. It’s been more challenging in previous years. I think I’m starting to learn the ropes.

- by Steve Hargrove

Director of Events and Marketing

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It Takes a Village

It takes a village. Think globally, act locally. Two catchphrases that we hear all the time, especially in an election year when the pundits and politicos try to meld theory with practice. We were inspired recently by a donor who took immediate and unselfish action, not out of any sense of recognition, but simply because helping was the right thing to do.

An SCS staff member literally ran out of gas during a meal delivery, and the AJC carried the story along with the overarching theme of how the gas and economic crises can sometimes hurt service delivery. Reading this newspaper story, an 80 year old widow who is living comfortably in an assisted living home called me to inquire as to how she could make a donation to help stem the tide of high gas prices. She asked not for recognition, in fact, preferring to remain anonymous in print form or otherwise. Instead, taking an almost biblical tone, she shared with me that it pained her that people her age were suffering, given her blessed circumstances in life.

The story of this new donor’s immediate gift was not only appreciated, but word of it energized the entire SCS staff. Her gift was thus multiplied, and will have benefit for many others long after the donation is spent. Sometimes, it takes just one person to motivate a village.

Brad Catherman
Vice President of Gift Planning
Senior Citizen Services