A lot of amazing things happened throughout this project. Here is a recap, with a little video to accompany it.
To add some excitement and joy, I decided to try incorporating a cakewalk into the dance party, so put a note on Facebook a few days before the event (attached word doc), and also went and asked for donations from a few local businesses. The response was amazing and there ended up being 1 cake or plate of cupcakes for each person there (about 30) to win. When I went to pick up Save on Foods donated cakes, the man who had baked them handed me a Superman cake, and a flower/heart cake that both said “You Matter.” I told him how much I loved them and he said “I’m so glad you like them, I loved making them. Those people deserve the best cakes.” It made me cry a little.
My budget went as planned (I quickly spent my portion at the dollar store, as I generally do ). I had a lot of people volunteer to help out (cake bakers, musicians, balloon delivery, gear set up and tear down etc). They all kept a safe distance from one another as I had requested.
On Friday, it felt like there might not be very many people from the Friendship Ministry attending. (All members were called via telephone by Susanne and Claude, but some generally really enthusiastic folks, responded with statements like “I’m not coming, I’m just not feeling very happy” which I was sad to hear). Next time, I would give more notice, show them the video I made summarizing the first one, and pep it up some more.
I decided at the last minute to invite my sister in law to come with my 6 and 8-year-old niece and nephew and asked her to have a little talk with the kids first about special needs people, loneliness, segregation, and kindness. I asked her to stress the importance of making these people feel loved and important, and the power of a friendly smile, or wave. They immediately were 100% all-in for being my little helpers and brought 3 friends and their mom along too (who had also had a talk with her kids as they baked a cake together that afternoon). Having 5 beautiful, enthusiastic, kind children there brought a lot of joy and light to the event. There were SO many smiles. All 5 children said they would love to be my helpers at any future events, which makes me excited. It felt like I had sort of accidentally started to bridge the big gap that exists between “regular” folk and the special needs community.
Susanne posted on behalf of The Friendship Ministry the following day “Thank you Carmen and her friends for the more than awesome time yesterday. We had a blast.” One client (the one with the pink visor) responded “Thank you Susanne and Carmen and everybody, I love you always and forever and hope we can do that again soon.” I assured her we can.
Here is a little 2-minute video I compiled to say thanks to the Vancouver Foundation, and all those who participated, donated, and helped out.
Thank you to the Vancouver Foundation- this project was a joyful heart filler.