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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.

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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,

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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.”

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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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Helping the People of Haiti: Make your response count

As we continue to see images and hear reports from Haiti in the wake of the devastating magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the island nation on January 12, we are moved by compassion to respond.

We want to collect things that we believe would be useful and send them to Haiti in the hopes that they will get to the people in need. Some of us want to go there to help ease the pain of survivors and to help with recovery.

As in any disaster, however, it’s less about what we want than about the needs of those people we’re trying to help.

The very best thing that you can do right now is to donate to vetted organizations responding to the crisis. Monetary donations provide the organizations with flexibility – they can use the money to respond to needs as they are identified in real time.

And as online donations have evolved, many organizations are able to accept smaller amounts, so you can give as little (or as much) as you can afford. Some organizations are even able to accept pre-determined donation amounts via text messaging.

How can you help?

  • Cash donations to reputable responding organizations are preferred. InterAction, “the largest coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations focused on the world’s poor and most vulnerable people,” provides a list of vetted, reputable organizations responding to the crisis. The list is updated daily, includes over 70 organizations & links to their websites, and gives an overview of what the organization is doing to address the current situation. InterAction also shares guidelines for the most effective ways to help.  I’m also a member of 12for12k, which is supporting Hope for Haiti.  In the words of 12for12k founder Danny Brown:

I chose Hope for Haiti for 12for12k’s support because they’ve been in the area for 20 years; they’re on the ground now; they know the needs of the people; the hardships they already faced and what they will face, and how to deal with that locally. Additionally, they give over $0.95 per dollar to the fund – I think that’s pretty good cause for support.

  • Be wary of fundraising scams. While disaster brings out the best in most people, it can also lead others to questionable actions. Be diligent in your research and donate only to reputable, responding organizations using legitimate websites.
  • Do not self-deploy as a volunteer. Consider volunteering locally to:
    • learn more about disaster preparedness and response opportunities in your community.
    • discover how you can make the best use of your unique skills following disaster.
    • become affiliated with a responding organization prior to the next disaster.
    • organize a fundraiser to support one of the responding organizations.
  • Do not organize item collections at this time. If items have already been collected, please donate them locally. Why? Donated items require shipping, storage, and someone to manage and distribute them. Often during large-scale disasters, this infrastructure doesn’t exist. Items either don’t get to their intended destination or, lacking adequate storage, they must be destroyed to prevent the spread of mold and illness.

Organizations will provide updates about relevant volunteer opportunities (from local to international) as they learn more, but for the moment trained, affiliated and specialized volunteers are being used first. A select number of responding agencies are requesting specialized volunteers – more information can be found on their websites.

Please be patient. As much as we all want to do something immediately to make the situation better, understand that the survivors in Haiti will need our help for days, weeks, months and years to come. This is not a situation that will be resolved quickly, and as the recovery process unfolds there will be plenty of opportunities to help.

Thank you for commitment to helping others.

Photo credits:  Catherine Lainé  http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidg/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Filed under 12for12k