We hosted our nonprofit’s first tea party fundraiser in your name! Alongside our partners at the Murrieta Valley Historical Society, with a $1,000 grant from Let’s Choose Love, and with a whole lotta community sponsors, donations from community members, and volunteer efforts of the most selfless folks you’d ever meet, we DID IT PEARL!!!! We had the BEST local musicians – harpist Kylene Grace followed by the trio Leather and Boogie, who took the stage and delighted the room with their talents.
Our goal was to sell 100 tickets and engage as many local artists, businesses and ordinary folks as we could to come together to learn about Murrieta’s railroad history, to get dressed up and enjoy a day with friends, family, and neighbors, and to show support for our efforts to open Murrieta’s first cultural arts center in our downtown historic district, at the site of the former train depot, and from inside an actual train car from our friends at the Southern California Railway Museum in nearby Perris, California. (Whew, was that all one sentence???)
We kept ticket prices at $50 each to keep it accessible, and then offered 10% discounts during two different flash sales, engaged in two different ticket giveaway events open to the community, as well as provided complimentary tickets to key community members and volunteers who showed up to offer their time and services to make the event truly memorable. When a lacemaker reached out to offer her time, we were more than thrilled to provide the chance to see a live lacemaking demonstration, which was a highlight for many in attendance!
In addition to our crew of volunteers who came out from our local arts council, downtown business district, library, and historical society, we had the good fortune to receive help from our local National Charity League chapter of mothers and daughters to set up the room, prepare the 3-tiers, and bring out all the tea and treats; as well as handle the cleanup for 300+ antique dishes (which was a feat in itself)!
The silent auction featured over 30 baskets and although minimum bids were in place, our goal was to keep a variety of price point items to allow everyone to participate! It was a success and we cleared out the lot, with many happy winners taking home cherished items and experiences, such as recording studio time, yoga + sound bath, personal harp session (which was promptly booked for a 100 Women Who Care event coming up!), plus so many more gifts from our incredible community.
So, how does one measure success?
Truth be told, the money is important but the community involvement and support was the real mark of success! To get 100 folks to show up in 90+ degree heat in the last weekend before schools go back in session; to get 99% of them to DRESS UP and take it to the n-th level making me feel underdressed (I have soooo much still to learn and acquire in the steampunk cosplay genre…Like a teacup holder for my belt!!! And the cool belt!!!); to successfully setup up and cleanup in the limited time we booked at the community center in order to stretch our budget (note to future self: 1 hour of cleanup time is NOT enough, IYKYK); to hear how many folks have been looking forward to this event and asking about when we are doing it again!!! <- These are the true victories of the day!
And then, there is the “other” important part in helping achieve the goals we set forward and announced to the community… and we DID THAT TOO!!!! We raised over $6,000 in donations through ticket sales, silent auction, and donations from local key community members and businesses (donations are still trickling in so we will have an official count soon!). We are proud to share a portion of this total with our Murrieta Valley Historical Society who runs the local Murrieta Museum adjacent to the Community Center where this event was held. They are the community’s unsung heroes, championing historic preservation and going above and beyond in their efforts to keep records of our city’s past and to engage directly with the longest standing residents of our community, the true pioneer families of the valley – just like you were, Pearl, when you came to California in 1894 on the railroad as a new bride!
We will continue to negotiate the purchase a rail car, and seek engineering reports for the site we hope to park the train, so that we can move ahead towards seeking official city approval for this project! Alongside that effort, we will be working out train car refurbishment details which will include the opportunity to sponsor a train window, brick sponsorships for the pathway leading up the train car once placed, as well as other chances to volunteer hands on for events like a park clean up day at the site, and public awareness pop-ups at local events.
And of course, the biggest announcement to answer all the questions we received: we look forward to making this tea party an ANNUAL AFFAIR!!! We will start looking for dates for next year’s Lace & Locomotives tea party fundraiser because this was too fun not to do again! And again!
Thank you Pearl for inspiring me to bring this dream to life, and thank you to our truly incredible community for helping us to bring history and art to life at this event! We couldn’t do it without all of the support, and we wouldn’t want to!!!
Your loving niece,