|A picture of one of the beautiful quilts that will be available at the silent auction at the dinner on Saturday|
by Kelly Klus
As I’ve worked with East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center and gotten to know the women who keep the chaos that exists there functional, I’ve really come to appreciate all the work that goes into the Center. Over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of hustle to put on the banquet that will take place this Saturday. From what I’ve gathered, it will be the seventh year that the Refugee Center has put on the banquet. The conversations that have gone on have reminded me of many of the conversations we’ve had in class about how social entrepreneurs, specifically in non-profits, make the money to support their business and continue offering their services in their community.
The women have used their connections throughout the community—at restaurants, bakeries, theaters, gyms and many more places to gather gift certificates and goods to sell at the silent auction. I’ve been amazed at how easy they’ve made it look to ask people throughout the community to support ECIRMAC. Asking someone for something is a hard thing to do-- even when it's for an extremely effective program; but the women have such solid connections throughout the community. It's obvious how well respected they are in the circles that they travel. They’ve been able to make the silent auction successful year after year, and continue to sell tickets to the dinner. This afternoon, I made a few phone calls to restaurants to see if anyone was interested in donating gift certificates to their restaurants. I think it was the first time I’ve had to do any ‘selling’ since Girl Scouts—it’s hard!!
ECIRMAC is not a hard sell—it offers so many services that are necessary for the livelihood of many of the residents in the community. Ha, one of the women who work at ECIRMAC, informed me that the Center serves over 2,600 unduplicated clients per year. Services are offered in 7 languages. But any asking for any donation is a hard sell—I’m sure Ryan, Celia, and Maritza can attest to that- as they were in charge of collecting items and donations for the silent auction.
While the Center also receives funds to continue providing their services from United Way, it’s also great to get to see how they collaborate to find funds. The banquet is a way to keep the community involved and informed in all that they do.
I’m excited to get to see what the dinner is like (and eat good food, of course)!