Rethinking the fundraisers

For the first time, I cooked a lobster earlier this month.

Sort of.

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The Rotary Club of Estevan held its annual Lobsterfest to Go on Oct. 3. Approximately 1,000 people purchased a chilled lobster and took it home and prepared it for supper.

It was pretty good. Not as good as what I’ve had each year at Rotary’s traditional Lobsterfest, when Ray Frehlick and his acclaimed crew of cooks would boil a live lobster flown in from Atlantic Canada earlier in the day.

But Lobster a la Dave – cooked in the oven at 350 F – still turned out well.

(It’s much easier than cooking a turkey. Thank God I’m smart enough to know my limitations, and haven’t attempted that. Our firefighters deserve better than to be called out to my apartment on Thanksgiving). 

It’s a credit to the local Rotarians that they were able to rethink a popular fundraiser and still offer it to the community.

Lobsterfest has long been one of the most popular events of the year in Estevan. Each year, Rotary serves about 800 people at the event. For many, myself included, it’s the one night of the year we get lobster. Combined with the great atmosphere and complimentary food (the only time I’ll refer to a steak as complimentary), and you get a night that so many look forward to.

Rotary knew they couldn’t seat and serve 800 people in 2020. But you could sell tickets to people, and at the designated time, have them drive up and pick up their meal. They actually sold more lobster this year than they would when it was held at Affinity Place.

It’s one example of people rethinking fundraisers and enjoying success. We’re starting to see it more and more. You can’t have that large gathering, but you can still find a way to deliver something to the people that they will enjoy. And because it’s unique, and because so many of us are craving something to do, it might be even more memorable than in a “normal” year.

Which brings me to another fundraiser that is coming up: the United Way Estevan telethon.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the United Way Estevan and its long-running telethon; it’s Oct. 16 and 17 this year. My first interview after moving to Estevan to work for Lifestyles back in 2000 was with Lynn Trobert, the United Way president of the day, regarding that year’s telethon.

The telethon is always an event that has brought the community together, and brought out the best in us, and it has always raised much-needed money for the member agencies and community partners.

It’s going ahead this year. It’s not going to be the telethon as we’ve known it; there will be pre-recorded entertainment and there won’t be spectators watching in the hall.

The entertainment will still be great. The hand-crafted bid items will still be wonderful. The board members and the volunteers will still be dedicated.

The member agencies and community partners – and the people they serve in this community – need the support more than ever.

The United Way knew they weren’t going to be able to have a telethon like they normally would. But rather than have a defeatist attitude, wave the white flag and cancel this year’s event, they adapted.

Some fundraisers are easier to adapt than others. The Royal Canadian Legion’s truck raffle can still happen; they can still sell tickets and they can still give away a great truck to a lucky winner at the end of the year.

Others, such as the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees, are much harder to alter. They’ve done a pretty good job of coming up with events and activities that can appeal to people, and still raise much needed funds for the hospital’s needs.

We don’t know how long the pandemic is going to last. I’m pretty confident that we’re going to have a vaccine at some point in the first half of next year that can be administered to the general public and be effective in most cases – which is what we’ll need to allow for the mass gatherings to happen again. I long for the day when we don’t have to talk about social distancing.

One day, when we talk about bubbles, it will be most frequently associated with baths.

But due to the time it will take for that vaccine, it means we’re going to have to continue to rethink events and fundraisers for a few more months.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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