Thursday, 03 October 2013 14:04

It’s All About the Giving

By Arthur Gonick | Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS — For 18 years, this has been the community’s finest hour.

The act of giving: it’s personal, spiritual for some. It’s selfless, sometimes anonymous.

 But in all cases it boils down to doing what you can. For some, that’s donating money; for others, their time. You “pay it forward” or accumulate karma points perhaps. Call it what you will, but the truest act of giving, no matter what you give, is doing so when there is no expectation of personal return or gain.

And nowhere will you find more individual acts of giving, in more ways, than at an event which benefits people who, because of li  fe’s circumstances, have no choice but to thank you from heaven.

“I feel fortunate to be a part of this event,” says Barbara Ecker. “And extremely grateful.”

On Thursday, October 17 at 6 p.m., the results of nearly nine months of activity by a lot of generous people will come together as about 500 people will be at the National Museum of Dance to be “Touched by an Angel” – all to benefit the Community Hospice of Saratoga Springs.

Barbara is hospice’s foundation specialist. Nancy Cain is the event chairwoman. They are both part of a team of 26 committee members from every aspect of the community that focuses on making the scope bigger, broader and better each year. But even they are but a small subset of over 106 event volunteers that will alight upon the dance museum next Tuesday to begin the titanic process of construction of food and water stations, easels, posters, floral arrangements, name tags, linens, champagne flutes, forks and napkins.

The list goes on and on.

(Please note that the previous line could be inserted at the end of several forthcoming paragraphs. And that’s the point).

“We get our volunteers from everywhere,” Barbara said. “Saratoga Springs High School, Waldorf students, SUNY Cobleskill culinary students, the Skidmore women’s field hockey team, the Girl Scout coat checkers and our hospice staff. Flower arrangers from the Posie Peddler. And of course, our many ‘little angels,’” who among other angelic activities will greet you with maps to guide you through the dazzling array of refreshment displays. Take one, you’ll need it.

We need to pause and take note of the fact that everything mentioned to this point, and what is to come: time, effort and in-kind, is all donated. Everything.

“I get to do a lot of the asking, which many people might think is difficult.” Barbara said. “But in this context it’s wonderful. Everybody that is involved have stories that they want to share. About family, friends, about how hospice has touched their lives.”

I asked her for a list of in-kind donations for 2013. It was a mere 32 pages long. So let’s review some highlights. From 13 florists (note to self: don’t try to buy white roses on Friday), a moving truck, a photo booth, 45 tables, 10 large pumpkins, 2,400 silver plastic forks and over 400 champagne flutes. “Also, every committee member donates something every year, so all bases are covered.” Barbara noted.

Ready for some food? “OK, we have 20 appetizer and dessert stations staffed by volunteers, 19 restaurant food stations staffed by restaurant personnel and one ice cream cart.” Barbara said. Add to that several strategically placed champagne and water stations, so it’s a pretty safe bet that no one is going home hungry or thirsty.

Assuring that is the case is the purview of Tony Panza, who has been the culinary coordinator of the event for several years now. “On the day of the event, Tony is by far ‘the man,’” says Barbara. “He reviews the menus of each restaurant to make sure there is little or no duplication, coordinates the quality of the presentation and food up front, and just as importantly makes sure the ‘back of the house’ is flowing smoothly to keep all the stations stocked.”  

It is worth noting that this is Saratoga Springs Community Hospice’s one and only event of the year. Even with an annual attendance of 500 plus each year, I have been assured that there will be plenty of room (and food, and beverage and fun) for you and yours. After all, the list goes on and on, and no list would be complete without you on it.

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