Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: CFAN/CDC

After months of anticipation and planning, Friday, September 16th arrived. The days leading up to 16th were full of activity. Everyone in the Community Design Center of Minnesota office pitched in to play an important role in preparing for the Harvest Dinner benefit. There were last-minute guest registrations to take,  items for the raffle to be organized, flowers to be cut and arranged for centerpieces, and technical equipment to be set up. The relative calm of the weeks leading up to an event contrasts so starkly with the rush and bustle of the days preceding it. Having worked in event planning for some years now, this phenomenon has ceased to surprise or amaze me. Somehow the pieces all come together, even when it feels like they could not possibly.

The banquet room at Heartland Restaurant in Lowertown Saint Paul looked elegant as my colleagues and I put the finishing touches on the room. The colorful programs brightened up the plates that in a matter of hours would be served with three-courses of a scrumptious, local and seasonal meal prepared by renowned chef Lenny Russo. An assortment of raffle items–from retail and restaurant gift cards to luggage to a deluxe one-night stay for two at a luxury hotel– lay arranged in a lovely display at the back of the room next to a woman with smiling lips of a red that matched the raffle tickets she had for sale. A musician played jazz standards as the technicians tested the sound equipment. A trio huddled around a table until when they pulled back a short film telling the story of the Community Design Center of Minnesota projected onto the opposite white wall. The preparations were all in place just guests began to arrive.

My fellow AmeriCorps VISTA and I took in the room. Its glowing ambiance and positive vibe seemed to guarantee a pleasant evening for the men and women who generously contributed their time and money to show their support for the youth gardening, health and nutrition, and conservation programs provided by the Community Design Center of Minnesota. After a final check-in with the executive director, we made our way out the door, happy to know that all our efforts in preparing for the benefit event were appreciated.

-Hannah Rusch, TNVNet VISTACommunity Design Center of Minnesota/CFANS

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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