I recently spoke with Margarita Torres of the WFP Committee of Gainesville about their Hops for Haiti event, held on March 16 at Stubbies & Steins in Gainesville, FL. By utilizing her own connections, she was able to successfully plan a fundraising event to raise money and awareness for WFP relief operations in Haiti.
Tell me about your event.
MT: We held an event called Hops for Haiti at Stubbies & Steins, a popular pub in Gainesville, FL. The owners agreed to donate one dollar from every beer sold to the WFP for Haiti relief. We held a raffle and put out donation jars, with the proceeds going to the WFP for Haiti operations. Anyone who donated $1 or more to the jar received a voucher to a local coffee shop for a free drink. We raised more than $600 in one night!
What was the goal of this event?
MT: Fundraising and awareness. I think continuing to have events like this for Haiti is good not only to raise money, but also to keep it in the minds of the community. Even if people see a flier around town and end up not coming to the event, they are reminded that Haiti relief efforts are still going on.
How did you come up with this idea?
MT: I am friends with the owner of Stubbies & Steins, which happens to be my favorite bar. I asked her if she could help me host a fundraising event at the pub and she was an enormous help. I could not have done it without her.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to organize a similar event?
MT: First, look at your own network to see if you know someone that can help you plan an event. You might be surprised at your connections to sites in your community. Also, it really helped me to have the owner as involved as possible--she helped me plan the raffle and helped promote the event to her friends and the customers.
Also, at first when the owner told me she wanted to have the event on a "slower" night I was a little worried about not having as good of a turnout. However, with the promoting that we did, we had an amazing turnout! Most of the crowd that came in that night was there for the event, so whenever we made announcements-- the bar got quiet. With only myself and the owner of the bar running the event that night, it probably would have been extremely overwhelming to have the noise of Friday night bar crowd.
A man named Nesly came by the bar and pulled the owner of the bar and I aside to introduce himself and to personally thank us for hosting the event. He was born and raised in Haiti and has family still in the country. He lost an aunt in the earthquake. I cannot put into words the deepest, most sincere look of thanks in his eyes when he was thanking us and how amazing of an experience it was.
We also found out that Nesly and the owner of the bar live two houses down from each other- they're neighbors! This is what I love about Gainesville. Everyone is connected somehow and it seems like it's only a matter of time before you end up meeting everyone! I think the same holds true for everyone in the world- we're all connected...somehow.
State Coordinator for Florida
WFP Committee Program