I’ve never been one to say no to a free dinner.  Or lunch.  Or breakfast.  Or coffee, for that matter.

What can I say?  I like to eat, yes, but I like even more to have someone else feed me.  When I imagine a monthly budget more flexible in the “entertainment” division, I do not imagine seeing more movies in a theater, concerts (like John does), or amusement parks.  I just want to go out to eat.  I would go out to dinner once a week if it was in our budget, just to have a break from my kitchen.

Apparently the word on this has been out, for some time.  I’m finding more and more friends luring me in to some volunteer position by beginning the conversation with, “There will be free food.”  It’s like they know I’ll say yes without even listening to the rest.  Because that is exactly what I do.

In college I actually pretended to be interested in attending Truett Seminary (twice!) because of their annual Spring visitor’s luncheon.  (Got two t-shirts too.)  I also signed up to be “adopted” by a family and continued to grace them with my presence periodically from my freshman through senior years because Audrey cooked dinner and I could come do my laundry in her garage.  It was wonderful.  I attended a ropes course training two weekends in a row, and then volunteered my services for the rest of the year at a camp for kids with disabilities because it meant getting out of the dorms from Friday night through Sunday and eating good old fashioned camp food.  (I believe some t-shirts were thrown in to this package as well.)  I might as well say it.  This little free food fetish is highly likely the number one reason I am currently a Baptist.

Our first church as a married couple?  The only one we even visited in Greensboro?  We got a card in our mailbox that said, “Join us at 10:15 Sunday for our Curbside Cafe of coffee, donuts, and other snacks.”  Done.

This leads me to my current predicament.

The YMCA’s Annual Giving Campaign.

About a month ago, a girl friend called (while I was cooking dinner, she’s that smart) and all I can remember from the conversation goes something like this: “…YMCA…there will be a dinner thing…you’d be on a team with me and Carolina…do you want to do it?”  Okay, so realistically, I heard dinner, and the fact that two of my friends would be there, and said yes.

Four weeks, two free dinners, a lunch, $50 and a t-shirt later, I have a stack of green and yellow papers (thick cardstock, to be exact), of people I am supposed to connect with, preferably face-to-face, tell my “Y Story” to, and then ask for money.

First problem: My Y Story.

Here is my Y Story: if you give money, it will support people who are on financial aid scholarships to be members at the Y.  People.  Uh, me.  In fact, every $30 dollars I collect, is another month my familycan currently afford the Y, which I will continue to patronize, at least two (but upwards of five days a week in the summer) to sit on a stationary bike or a couch in the lobby, read a book, drink some coffee, and give my children a social outlet that does not include me trying to do crafts with them at the kitchen table.

How does that sound?

Alas.

Second problem: Ask for Money.

Unfortunately, the majority of the people I hang out with on a semi-regular basis, are also sacrificing in the comforts department in order to stay home with young children, while their husbands are at the beginning of their careers (or still in school), looking at a lifetime of student loans, and wondering how in the heck the current rate for a non-degree’d babysitter can possibly be $10 an hour.

“Our” goal is about $200,000 this year.  Truly, this money is all used to support community members who would otherwise not be able to afford membership, a season of soccer for their kids, a week at summer camp, swimming lessons, or a support group for those with cancer.  Amazingly, none of it will build a new building, extend a parking lot, or construct a new sauna in the locker room.  It all goes into financial aid.  This is, actually, something I can rally behind.

Mid bite of my free catered pork slider, I did some number crunching.  $200K, divided by the number of YMCA families (not individual members) means that if each family gave just $33 this year, we’d have our goal.  That actually seems doable.

John and I gave.  Even in the last few months of our financial assistance, we agreed that we could afford a gift.

So now I just have to figure out how to pass this little nugget along to that stack of card stock still sitting in my desk, calling me to get on the ball.

What I Wouldn’t Do For a Free Meal and a T-Shirt
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