Behind the Upper Supper
Before COVID-19 hit and everything stopped, the Hands4Hope Youth Board was in full swing planning and preparing for the Upper Supper. The Upper Supper was designed to be a family friendly fundraising event which included a buffet, dessert auction, live entertainment and raffle, to benefit the Upper Room Dining Hall and Hands4Hope Leadership Program.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Youth Board, it is a diverse team of youth leaders that we recognize for their dedication to serving the community, while leading and inspiring their peers to do the same. The Youth Board is composed of the president and vice president from each on-campus club, as well as the committee chair for each after-school committee in our Education Program. In addition to their service and peer leadership, these Board members bring valuable youth perspective to our organization. Like each part of our Education Program, the Youth Board was in the process of using the service-learning approach to learn about a genuine community need, and then design and implement a youth-led project to help fill the unmet need. Using the service-learning approach allows youth to apply knowledge and effect positive change in their own community through experiential, hands-on learning and skill building.
To begin the process, back in fall the Youth Board began to Explore, holding discussions with the primary goal of narrowing down the areas of need in the community they wanted to learn more about. In addition, the group created a criteria to be used as they assessed the impact they could make on filling any unmet needs presented to them through this process. The criteria was used as a guide when researching and interviewing local non profits and agencies with current unmet needs. Number one on the groups list of criteria was, Our contribution should make a significant impact on their organization, and they should provide assurance that it will be used correctly to fill the unmet needs they share with us during their presentation. The Youth Board researched and narrowed their focus to two areas: food insecurity and domestic violence. After hearing presentations and interviewing several non profits who had unmet needs in these identified areas, the group voted and selected to benefit the Upper Room Dining Hall in Placerville.
The Youth Board then moved to the second step in the Hands4Hope service-learning approach, Act. After the group knew who they were benefiting and learned the greatest need the Upper Room had was lack of funding for food and services for guests, the group got to work. Through the action step the 25 high school youth leaders broke off into committees: Marketing; Decorations; Dessert Auction and Raffle Baskets; and Food and Entertainment. Each committee identified a chair and detailed out the goals and tasks associated with their committee. Madisen Berry, Chair of the Decoration Committee shared “When I heard the Upper Supper had to be cancelled, I was glad that we were staying safe, but felt let down that I couldn’t see our project come to reality. I was so excited and knew it was going to be amazing. We already had all of the decorations planned out; we knew how everything was going to look. I feel like it was smart to cancel, but I am sad that I won’t get to see our Upper Supper.”
These leaders put in countless hours, thought, and effort into this large fundraising event with the potential to entertain 250 people and raise upwards of $6,000 to benefit the Upper Room and the Hands4Hope Education Program. In fact, the marketing committee was just about $1,000 short of their $3,000 goal with six weeks left when they learned they needed to cancel the event. Marketing Committee Chair Liv Craine said “ I really loved getting to lead the marketing committee, and even though the Coronavirus stopped us from being able to put on our Upper Supper...I did get to learn about how to market to sponsors and what we had to do when we had to cancel the event.”
There are two more steps in the Hands4Hope service-learning approach that the leaders won’t be able to complete this year. The first is to Lead. The Youth Board would have decorated the Cameron Park Community Center with starry night inspired decorations influenced by youth leader Emma Bliss’ painting she created specifically for the Upper Supper. The entire event would have been hosted by this amazing youth team from the behind the scenes setup, decor and food and beverage server training, to the audience welcoming and engaging emcee tasks. Mary Matlack the Youth Board President and Placerville Liaison would have been one of the primary speakers for the event “Getting to speak at the Upper Supper would have been my big final moment as a youth leader in Hands4Hope. I would have gotten to show my growth as a public speaker and a leader and share with everyone the impact H4H has on youth and the community.”
The final step in our service-learning approach is Reflection. This is the time the youth would have gathered together in celebration of the work they did, and to look closely at how the event went. Our youth leaders use the Start, Stop, Continue method to evaluate how each step of the event planning and implantation went. This is fundamental to learning and skill building, giving youth the opportunity to evaluate their work honestly and provide feedback that can be used by the group the next year to recommend best practices and areas to focus on for improvement.
Although the Upper Supper was cancelled, the Youth Board is determined to move forward and work toward their financial goal. They have reZOOMed meetings and are creatively shifting gears to an online event. Please stay tuned for their new fundraiser to be released sometime in the coming weeks.