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Picnic on the Park Recap - An Inside Look

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When the Tuesday meeting rolled around, we had the Town Center Park reserved and Dawn had a list of activities that she would like to see at the event.  The plan was to have the Easter Egg Hunt, game booths, entertainment, vendor booths, refreshments, and a raffle.  Gwendolyn Condoleo, the Kingwood Community Liaison to the Houston mayor’s office, came to the meeting and gave us a list of to-do’s for city requirements and contact numbers.

We chose The Mission NE as the beneficiary for the event.  The Mission is a non-profit agency assisting families and individuals primarily located in the Northeast corner of Harris County and the Southeast corner of Montgomery County. It assists these families with food, clothing, household items, adult GED classes, ESL classes, life skills classes, Mission!Possible (a children’s summer skills enhancement program for students K-5th grade), Feed My Lambs (a summer lunch program for area children and less fortunate families), holiday assistance, and spiritual, and emotional guidance.
 
The Mission began as a community outreach based out of the old Forest Cove Baptist Church on Hamblen Road in 1995.  In 2000, the operations were relocated to its current location at 22098 Loop 494 in New Caney.  The services have grown from serving 13 families in January of 1995 with two volunteers to 6,298 families and a total of 20,854 individuals in 2003.

Among their menu of assistance programs, they serve holiday meals in addition to their summer lunch program for children, Feed My Lambs.  In the summer of 2002, they served 3,000, in 2003, they served 8,000.  All this without a range.  When the Mission heard that they were selected as the beneficiary of the event, they were very excited and were hoping that the proceeds would be enough to purchase a commercial range for their facilities to use in their meal programs.

So with The Mission on board and a skeleton crew of planners, we were on our way and the countdown had begun.

Our initial plan was to have one person in charge of each area.  Dawn and Cindee were going to work on donations and sponsors, I was going to work on publicity, and Anna was taking care of the site requirements.  Sounds logical and organized, right?  The catch?  That still left the egg hunt, entertainment, vendor booths, and refreshments uncovered.  The solution?  Everyone started pitching in wherever they could.  A little chaotic, but we got it done.

Every business we walked into got hit up for donations.  I could rattle off my spiel in my sleep, ‘I’m helping plan a community Easter Egg hunt benefiting The Mission NE.  There are several ways for businesses to participate . . .”  With one or two exceptions, everyone we talked to was willing to participate in some way.

It was so amazing to me what a giving community this is.  Not only the number of businesses that were willing to participate, but that the biggest givers were the small businesses.  For example, Dr. Shrum’s office placed an ad in the event program, donated a raffle item, and coupons for the business bags that were handed out.  Russell Bates with Temprite A/C and Heat donated the much coveted raffle prize of a scooter, as well as a speaker system.  A to Z Specialties and Shona Byrant with Vinyl Signs and Graphics printed the t-shirts and banners at cost.  These aren’t big corporations with huge marketing budgets, but business owners with a commitment to this community.