Category Archives: fundraising

Heartfelt Thanks

Thank you.

Because of you – my friends (online and offline), my family and my readers – I was honored with the title of “Best Celebrity Bartender” for Evening in the Stacks: Sparkle and Spurs.

photo (26)

But the real winner is the Howard County Library System, which is as it should be.

Because of your generosity – and the generosity of those who gave to the other incredible (and formidable) Celebrity Bartenders – we doubled the amount raised by this aspect of Evening in the Stacks.  Last night we raised over $2,200 to help support  A+ Partners in Education (which includes the STEM Program, Battle of the Books, Spelling Bee and Rube Goldberg Challenge) and Project Literacy, a wonderful and successful adult literacy education program.

My hat is off  to fellow Celebrity Bartenders Tom Coale, Victoria Goodman, Dick Story, Kristi Simon, and Paul Skalny. They made this fun, and I mean a LOT of fun! Shooting the promotional video was hilarious, even at silly o’clock in the morning in the snow. They didn’t even laugh at me when I almost fell down the stairs. They showed up last night dressed to the nines – vests, badges, cowboy hats,


boots and bolo ties – and they worked HARD. I am not kidding when I say that they were all about raising money to support the library, and it showed.

Thanks to the library staff – especially Christie – who made it remarkably easy to participate. So much work goes into this event – I can’t even begin to imagine – and she answered every call and email with extraordinary patience and good humor.

The decorations last night dazzled, but I was way too spazzy to do anything like take photos. Decorations abounded on both floors of the Miller Branch, and the Antler Bar (where we served drinks for 45 minutes) was everything I’d hoped and more (“Omg, an ANTLER BAR!”).

The folks who assisted us behind the bar were rock stars. All we had to do was serve wine and sodas and water – they kept us in glasses and opened the wine bottles for us. People who know me well realize that this was A Very Good Thing. The thought of me trying to open a bottle of red wine in a hurry is pretty chilling, right? Can you imagine? “It was a festive event until one of the Celebrity Bartenders slipped while opening a bottle of wine. We’re still not sure exactly how the bottle broke, but she needed 127 stitches and we never were able to get the blood stains out of the carpet.”


There was a margarita bar, too, and libations were provided by The Wine Bin and the Ale House of Columbia. The music, by Dave Chappell and the Lone Stardusters, set the scene perfectly.

I bought my hat and badge at Carol’s Western Wear, and the staff could NOT have been kinder or more helpful. Mr. Bob even taught me the proper way to put on my cowboy hat (front to back) and how to sit it down when you take it off (hint: brim side up).  He also told some great jokes and sounded exactly like the character Hershel Green from The Walking Dead.

As promised, there was a horse (“But not a REAL horse!”) in the lobby. I managed to snap a photo of it on the way out.

I really don’t know if I’ll return next year as a Celebrity Bartender – if I’ll even get invited to return, because I think part of the fun is changing it up, you know? What I’d really like is to be a Celebrity Librarian (or maybe an Honorary Librarian). I have no idea what that would entail, but it sounds like something right up my alley. Surely they could find SOMETHING I could do that wouldn’t mess things up too badly

Thanks again, everyone. Your support truly did make a real difference to two exceptional programs of my favorite library system, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

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Filed under authors, fundraising

Evening in the Stacks: Sparkle and Spurs

I walk in the doors and inhale, smelling the slightly sweet, dusty scent of old paper. I walk straight to my favorite section and stop in front of a particular shelf, pull down a book and smile at the soft crackle of the plastic-cased cover as I ease it open and begin to read. An hour later my parents  wander into the crowded maze of ceiling-high shelves to find me sitting right there on the linoleum floor, my nose inches from the pages, utterly absorbed.

I’ve always loved reading. For as far back as I can remember, I’d routinely walk around reading, completely unconcerned about bumping into walls, objects or people. I couldn’t travel without at least two books: a main book and a back-up book (being caught someplace with nothing to read ranks somewhere between “trampled by a herd of rabid cows” and “forced to listen to Kevin Costner attempting a British accent” on the Avoid-O-Meter scale). I was one of the only kids I knew whose parents would encourage her to put the book down to go outside and play.

My first library? The Miller Branch of the Howard County Library System.

It looks a lot different these days, but then it should. It’s been rebuilt twice since I was little to keep up with the growing and ever-changing needs of the community. I firmly believe that my overdue fines alone helped finance the second building – checking books out was great fun. Returning them? Not so much.

So why am I telling you all of this? Simple. This year, I’ve been asked to return as a Celebrity Bartender for Evening in the Stacks: Sparkle and Spurs being held at the Miller Branch of the library. How cool is that? I’m definitely going to need your help, though.


“But Mickey, we didn’t know you were a celebrity!”

I’m not, but I’m happy to perpetuate the myth for the purposes of supporting the Howard County Library System. I’m selfless like that.

“But, Mickey – do you even know how to bartend?”

Yes, of course! And by “yes” what I actually mean is “no.”

I’ve never worked in the service industry, preferring to focus on retail during my formative years because, let’s face it, retail is far more forgiving of sarcasm. If you want to know about  pressure treated 2x4s or how to fold a shirt for a shelf display, I’m your woman. The good news (for me, anyway) is in order to level the playing field, we’ll only be pouring beer and wine. Even I can’t screw that up too badly. Right? Right? Hello?

If you can join us on Saturday, February 23 from 7-11 pm at the Miller Branch, it’s sure to be an amazing evening.  During the first hour, all six Celebrity Bartenders (Dick Story, Vicki Goodman, Tom Coale, Pam Klahr, Paul Skalny and I) will be serving drinks simultaneously at the Antler Bar. I have no idea what that means, but I have to admit I’m intrigued. And it will all be in good fun, because we’re really not all that competitive:

Okay, so we’re a little competitive.

If you can’t join us, you CAN virtually tip your favorite bartender by going to the Evening in the Stacks page, clicking on the “Donate” button under Celebrity Bartenders and filling in the name of choice when you click “Add special instructions to the seller.” I think I speak for ALL of the Celebrity Bartenders when I say that the name you MOST want to virtually tip begins with Mickey and ends with Gomez. Just a thought.

Hahaha! I’m joking!

Kind of.

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In all seriousness, the most important aspect of the event is supporting two outstanding programs: A+ Partners in Education (which includes the STEM Program, Battle of the Books, Spelling Bee and Rube Goldberg Challenge) and Project Literacy, a wonderful and successful adult literacy education program. So please consider donating – it really would mean a great deal to me.

To get you in the mood, so to speak, here’s a photo of spurs (not mine), boots (mine), my dad’s Akubra hat from Australia, the guitar I need to start playing again and two book recommendations:

Territory by Emma Bull, a retelling of the events that unfolded once upon a time in Tombstone, Arizona.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King, a series featuring the ultimate gunslinger, Roland Deschain of Gilead.

If I make it through this year’s event, perhaps next year I’ll ask if I can return as something far, far cooler than a Celebrity Bartender: a Celebrity Librarian.

Stay tuned!

And thank you kindly for considering my request to support my favorite library system.


Filed under authors, books, fundraising, laughter, non-profits, writing

This Celebrity Bartender

I’ve been invited to serve as a celebrity bartender for this year’s Evening in the Stacks, which benefits the Howard County Library System. Before I forget to mention it, the event is on Saturday, February 25th from 7:30 – 11:30 pm at the brand new Miller Branch, which is really quite spectacular. The photo to the left is of the reading froggies just outside the front entrance – completely adorable, but then I’ve been a frog fan-girl since Kermit.

Let’s go ahead and start with the celebrity part.  Whaaaa? I was about 99.9% sure the invitation came to the wrong person (I’m still not entirely sure I won’t be turned away on the evening of the event – “Icky WHO? Not on the list, sorry!”). To be included with the folks serving as celebrity bartenders this year is humbling, to say the very least.  The list includes Mary Kay Sigaty, Dennis Lane, Candace Dodson Reed, Dick Story and Vic Broccolino.  In other words, I am way, WAY out of my depth.

And if you know me, surely you’re saying to yourself, “Self? Are they crazy?! What on earth does Mickey know about bartending?!” And you’d be right to ask that.  Very right, indeed.

You could fit my total knowledge of bartending on the head of a pin and still have plenty of room left over for countless enthusiastic angels swing dancing their little wings off.  But that’s the fun, right?  (Not the swing-dancing-angels-part, the not-having-any-idea-how-on-earth-I’m-going-to-NOT-embarrass-myself-bartending-part.)

The theme this year is Masquerade, based loosely on the Venetian concept of masques and celebration.  Here is a photo of Venice to get you in the mood, so to speak:

And had I not just attended a masquerade party this past weekend, this is the mask you might’ve seen on the evening of the event:

It’s pretty. It’s from Venice. It’s also a pain in the wazoo to carry around, and I almost took out the eyes of several guests when I wasn’t paying attention.  So that’s out.  As they say, it’s all fun and games until you poke someone’s eyes out with a Venetian mask when you’re trying to raise money for a favorite cause.

Here’s the fun part – I’d love for you to join us.  It’s going to be a LOT of fun – amazing food, music, silent auction and dancing.  Even better?  The bartenders will be competing for tips.  And THE BEST part? You can add to my electronic tip jar ANY celebrity bartender’s electronic tip jar before the event even starts if you won’t be able to attend in person!  It’s super easy, and you can use PayPal.

Just visit the webpage for Evening in the Stacks and scroll down until you see this:

Click on the giant yellow Donate button and you’re off!  You can use PayPal (Did I mention that? So easy!) and simply enter the name of the bartender you’d like to support into the Tip Field.

Just in case you can’t see it, here’s a slightly modified version to help you decide which name you should HIGHLY CONSIDER typing into the “Tip Field” section for your donation:

And please note, electronic tips will be accepted until noon on February 25th. 

Seriously, I do hope you’ll consider supporting me.

More importantly, I hope you’ll consider supporting the Howard County Library.  If you love books or reading or learning you know that you simply can’t beat a good library.

This event is being held at the branch where I grew up – where I first discovered reading, where I used to sit right down in the aisles to read a favorite book, and where I donated most of my allowance for decades of late fees.

Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, I hope you’ll consider a small donation to support a favorite cause.  Thanks!

Proceeds benefit the Library’s educational initiatives, including A+ Partners in Education and Project Literacy.


Filed under books, fundraising, non-profits

Book Review: The Future of Nonprofits

Book Review:  The Future of Nonprofits:  Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age by David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss

The Future of Nonprofits - coverWhen I was asked to review The Future of Nonprofits, I’ll admit that I was a little reluctant. I typically prefer to read and review fiction.  The information I use to stay current on nonprofit and volunteer trends comes from blogs, webinars, articles, workshops, podcasts, and a variety of sources and generally doesn’t include books.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for years, though, both as a leader of small nonprofits and as a resource to nonprofits of all sizes.  I’ve observed recent trends in the sector and struggled to adapt, and I’ve watched others do the same.

As I started reading The Future of Nonprofits, a funny thing happened. I’d find myself referring to it in conversations, or working key points into discussions and presentations.  In fact, I’ve been recommending it to board members, community leaders, and local nonprofit staff, saying, “It’ll be available soon, you should definitely consider picking up a copy.”

What makes this book different from the gazillions of others written for nonprofits? It’s timely, it’s relevant.  It provides genuinely insightful and helpful advice, observations and strategies, scaled for nonprofits ranging from large to small.

  • It explains the differences between strategic planning and “futuring”, and why future scanning is so crucial for nonprofit success.  For smaller organizations that might not have the resources to future scan, the authors suggest ways to create a nimble and flexible organization poised to quickly make the most of new trends.
  • It scrutinizes business management strategies that nonprofits are beginning to use (Lean, Six Sigma and TQM) and it carefully considers which aspects could work for nonprofits and explains why others won’t.
  • It offers case studies and interviews – many rooted in social media – as a means to gain a deeper understanding of the successful transition from idea to reality.
  • It suggests people and organizations to watch and follow – sector leaders across a variety of platforms that will enable the reader to stay connected long after the book is finished.
  • It provides concrete suggestions for embracing innovation from start to finish and removing barriers to implementation (favorites include sample job descriptions and interview questions targeting innovative qualities for staff members).
  • It predicts trends for both nonprofit fundraising and communications. (Seriously worth the read for these alone.)

What doesn’t this book do?  It doesn’t bombard you with lofty ideas and leave you flailing around as you try to implement them (or, more likely, as you immediately get frustrated and give up).

The authors understand that one of the most difficult aspects of change is actually DOING IT. Neff and Moss acknowledge that creativity is important (and many nonprofits have developed successful systems for generating new ideas), “But the real leverage is in the back end: the ability to execute ideas. Ideas will only get you so far.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits).

There are only a couple of downsides to this book that I could find.  The first is that, while the authors intentionally tried to scale to a range of nonprofit sizes (and they did a great job), the process may seem overwhelming to smaller agencies.  I’d encourage smaller nonprofits to give it a chance, and to consider the fact that their very size may make them more nimble and better positioned to put some of the ideas into practice quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

The second is that some folks who could truly benefit from the book may not read it, or may dismiss it because much of The Future of Nonprofits challenges the, “This is the way we’ve always done things.” mentality.

“…as long as we hold onto our preconceived notions of what our constituents want and how they use our products and services, we will be forever tied to our existing offerings.”  (from The Future of Nonprofits)

As nonprofits, we need to embrace feedback.  Even better, we need to listen and learn where the gaps are and objectively think about ways to better serve our constituents.  We need to embrace change (or at least learn not to fear it).  And we can do this by trying our best to keep up, or we can choose to approach it strategically through some of the lessons shared in this book.

Is now the right time for innovation?  During a prolonged economic crisis?  Shouldn’t we hang on to our limited resources with both hands, and focus exclusively on providing core services?  According to Neff and Moss, this is exactly the wrong approach to take – first of all, what better time to embrace managed creativity than during challenging times? Second, it’s almost impossible to regain an environment that embraces innovation once it’s been stifled, even with the best of intentions.

In the words of the authors:

“The bottom line is this book is going to help your organization do more relevant things faster, less expensively, and drive key business metrics.” (from The Future of Nonprofits).

I couldn’t agree more.

More information on the book is here:

Quotes from the book used with permission for the purposes of this review.  Book cover image from Flickr, some rights reserved under Creative Commons.


Filed under blogs, books, fundraising, non-profits, social media, technology

Musicians on Call – the Healing Power of Music

Music.  It brings people together like nothing else.  It evokes a wide range of emotions.  It makes us love, laugh, cry, dance, smile, sing, think, feel, and reminisce.

It also heals.

Musicians On Call is 12for12k’s October charity.

Musicians on Call

Musicians on Call

Formed in 1999, Musicians on Call brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities.  Musicians On Call uses music to promote and complement the healing process for patients, families and caregivers.

Musicians On Call was originally founded by Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary in the course of their volunteer work with The Kristen Ann Carr Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

To date, the organization has brought music to over 160,000 patients, their families and caregivers.  They have programs in New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Miami.  In addition to their bedside performance program, they’ve also created 320 CD Pharmacies in facilities across the country (and internationally).  And their Project Playback program gives patients the opportunity to have their original music recorded and produced.

On October 16th, 2009, Musicians on Call proudly announced that their program has expanded to V.A. medical centers nationwide, with bedside performance programs in Philadelphia and Nashville and CD Libraries in over 40 medical center in 30 states.

You can listen to music performed by select Musicians on Call volunteers via the MOC Jukebox.  Do yourself a favor and give it a listen – you’ll discover an incredible array of musical styles performed by extraordinarily talented and compassionate individuals.

So please take a moment and think:  what does music mean to you? What is your favorite song?  When has music played a big part in your life?  What would it mean to you, if you were in the hospital, to have access to a CD Library, or to have a musician visit you to play music at your bedside?  Can you close your eyes and imagine what a difference it would make?

Consider:  just $10 brings one song to the bedside of a patient in a healthcare facility, so every donation helps, no matter how small.  Please donate now to support Musicians on Call in their mission to being the healing power of music to those in need.  You can also visit the 12for12k Musician’s on Call post to learn more or to view our progress.

If you can’t afford to donate financially, perhaps you have new or gently used classical or children’s cds to donate to the CD Library program.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a moment:  what does music mean to you?  What music do you associate with different memories or feelings?  Do you have a personal story about the healing power of music that you’d like to share?  Did you find a favorite song on the MOC Jukebox?  (I did!)

Thanks for reading!


Filed under 12for12k, fundraising, non-profits

Web 2.0 Awards for 2008

SEOmoz’s Web 2.0 awards is an interesting place to discover new social media resources. Now my first question was, naturally, how did they select their winners? In their own words:

After scouring the web for Web 2.0 sites both new and old, we developed a “short list” of over three-hundred sites in forty-one categories. From there, we had some of the web’s best bloggers, entrepreneurs and business people vote on winners, narrowing the field to 174 place-getters and Honorable Mentions.

I’d discovered the first place winner under “Philanthropy” already (yay!) but hadn’t heard of either Giveness or the fascinating DonorsChoose (a resource specifically for teachers and classrooms).

Another finding of note: according to these awards, Twitter beat out Facebook under Social Networking mainstays.

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