Our small wicker basket was almost overflowing with buttons. Or pins. Those old fashioned round, shiny things with pins on the back to hook onto your clothing. Those things we collected and hooked onto our 'pin boards' in the 1980's.
We had pressed our pins ourselves with a set of old, lead presses. And the pictures we pressed onto them were also old fashioned. There were pins about housewives, terrible puns, old cartoons, and mostly...terrible puns. We had laughed like crazy as we pressed them.
One late winter day, we ladies from KTRA exchanged our riding boots for city shoes and collected for a meeting at our local Red Beard Café. Our basket of pins and fundraising flyers were in our hands as we entered a bustling café that smelled delicious.
Our mission was clear: eat some darn good food, drink some darn good beer, and wrangle the owner, Mitchell Forgie into letting us display our fundraising buttons and flyers right by the cash register. Customers could choose a pin, drop a donation into a little box, and pick up a flyer about all the great things that Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association provides to the community.
The café was stuffed full of people of all walks of life sipping on coffee and eating, engrossed in their conversations. The atmosphere was warm and comfortable. We found a table by a stone fireplace with a splashy work of local art hanging above it. The waiter brought us a half pint each of local craft beer. We told him what we were up to.
The young waiter shuffled through our pins and burst out laughing. He took the basket to his coworkers and we watched hopefully as the staff gathered around, holding up pins, reading out loud, and laughing.
That was when we met Mitchell Forgie, Owner/Operator of Red Beard Café.
'Excellent initiative,' he said, reaching across the table to shake hands. He gave a confident hand shake and an embracing smile. His appearance could only be described as 'funky'; a true hipster. Known in the community as focussed and driven, he was open and more than willing to hear about our good cause.
'No problem', he said, 'set the buttons next to the cash and we will see what we can do. What a great cause.'
We were stoked.
The buttons were put out on display for 6 weeks. About 250.00 dollars were raised as well as a lot of community awareness for our amazing non-for-profit Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association.
'You can keep bringing more buttons for as long as you like,' Mitch told me later as I collected the funds and the few buttons that remained.
I followed up with him recently for a quick Q & A....
What made you jump onboard to help with fundraising so quickly?
I love fundraising. Big fan! We do a lot of it through BrewLoops or helping ASK with Mz. Judged; we do a whole bunch of other community initiatives. To me, it's a win for everyone. We get to help people help other people in whatever small way we can.
That said, it is really easy when you have a relationship with the people you are fundraising for; they are looking to contribute to the community and in our business (in this case through a novel idea like pins). That makes it really easy when it's a win for our guests, a win for the KTRA, and it's easy for us to administrate.
Donating GCs to a random silent auction does little to raise money or awareness for us or the organization doing the fundraising. It's really an afterthought and I think for those reasons that this type of fundraising is way more difficult for everyone. It is not really an investment in the non-profits stakeholders, or the group or person making the donation.
What was the general reaction to the buttons by your customers?
Folks were so stoked about them! They would take them to the table and look through them all, they are a great conversation starter. Many new relationships had great first dates because of them! We could have these forever and I think they would never loose that appeal.
These funds will be going toward KTRA's Soar For More campaign where donators and fundraisers jump out of a plane. How do you feel about jumping for KTRA?
Hahaha you want me to jump out of a plane? Sure! Why not?!?! ...... yikes......
Do you often take part in community initiatives?
We had a big part in getting BrewLoops off the ground a few years ago. We work hard to help along beautification initiatives on the North Shore and we are always involved in active transportation initiatives. So I would say in general we try to be as much as possible!
What do you love doing when you are not at work?
Kamloops is the center of the world for mountain biking so I do that here as much as possible. I love to climb mountains when I have time to. I love carpentry and try to find my way onto job sites as much as I can. There is so much to learn!
Mitch and his wife Edna are well known and well loved in the community of Kamloops. KTRA is very grateful to them for their fundraising efforts and for giving us the time to interview them. Thank you to Red Beard from KTRA!!