Everyday Orinda – April 2019

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    Over the years, I’ve accepted more than a few angst-inducing volunteer positions that often made me rue the day I sandbagged the professional career for full-time motherhood. “Why remove myself from my three little daughters to toil away at a job?” I naively asserted, never suspecting that in today’s current climate of absurdly underfunded public education, I would instead be toiling away at many jobs. Just not for pay. Or any benefits. Or much mentoring.
    As these volunteer jobs are passed down, the newbie is typically handed an overflowing binder, along with some dubious reassurance that “everything you need to know will be in there.” And possibly a hug, if you’re lucky.
    Chairing the Glorietta Elementary School Auction, however, was one volunteer job that no amount of spiked punch or well-placed flattery could convince me to undertake. This annual beast has so many moving parts I could never get past the panic-induced nightmares that would surely invade my sleep.
    But miraculously, every year, without fail some brave soul steps up to tackle this job. And the beautiful mystery that follows is this: Once a leader is in place, the rest of the jobs are easily filled. Once someone agrees to be the general, the captains, lieutenants and the rank-and-file fall seamlessly in place.
    Alison Bordon chaired the Glorietta Auction in 1983, its second year. “We raised $10,000,” she explains. “As I recall, we raised $4,000 the first year, so we considered $10,000 a huge success, although it seems like small potatoes compared to today. If we had raised today’s quota, I would have been immortalized in Orinda lore!”
    Donated items in 1983 were similar to what can be found today:  dinner parties, Tahoe cabins, sailing on the bay, restaurant dinners, donated services and decorative items, all laying the groundwork for the success of the future fundraising dynasty.
    This year’s chair was Jennifer Kamal, a mother of a second-grader, a kindergartner, and a preschooler. Just imagining the bandwidth it took for her to orchestrate this crucial and consuming event with such tender-aged children underfoot created a powerful urge to lie down and close my eyes. But, like Kamal, I persevered, and tried hard not to let my “been there, done that, moths have eaten the T-shirt” attitude curb her enthusiasm.
    Kamal and her team of hardworking parents are true community heroes. “Everyone steps up in their own way, with their own area of expertise,” says Kamal, who is by profession an event planner. Grateful for a host of others too numerous to list here, she credits auction veteran Amy Campbell-Brown with running a successful online auction, an alternative for those who (gasp!) can’t make it to the event itself; Emily Waterbury, for handling the communications; and Mandy Pollitzer, who served as co-chair.
    Kamal says this year’s auction was again very successful, meeting the goal of $280,000.
    Parents, faculty and even school district administrators turned out in costume to support the “Glorietta Olympic Games,” featuring a themed dinner, live auction and dancing at Roundhill Country Club on Feb. 23. Activities such as curling, putt-putt and shooting hoops added to the festivities.
    The 37th annual live auction offered an array of desirables, including the traditional Teacher Outings, a perennial favorite. I loved the bittersweet irony:  basically any activity my children would view as akin to punishment if forced to participate in with me (bike riding, crafting, searching for bugs, cooking) is worth a week’s salary to engage in with their teacher.
    Other popular moneymakers from loyal community donors included a champagne raffle sponsored by Morrison’s Jewelers, a Create-Your-Own-Family-Sundae event sponsored by Loard’s Orinda, A Moraga-Orinda Fire Department dinner for six at the firehouse, and an opportunity for two female students to be CEO for a Day at Autodesk, a software design firm.
    “The parents all work incredibly hard. They care so much and they are all so smart,” Kamal says. “It always comes together and it’s all worth it in the end.”

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