By FRAN CELONA, President, Mendon Foundation, Inc.
Earlier this year, charities from the Rochester area were invited to join a community fundraising initiative by Delaware North, the concessions and restaurant company based in Buffalo.
The fundraising initiative consisted of staffing the market tents at the PGA Championship held at Oak Hill Country Club during the third week of May. A minimum of fourteen volunteers per day were required for all seven days, which meant recruiting up to 98 volunteers. The work shifts required eight to ten hours per person per shift. There were two shifts per day, and the minimum required hours totaled 906.50 hours.
Eighteen possible markets were available for the charities. Only twelve charities were able to gather enough volunteers to make such a large, daily time commitment for the entire week. Most of the twelve were well-known organizations such as Bishop Kearney, ARC of Monroe and Pluta Cancer Center. Probably the smallest organization was the Mendon Foundation.
Since many people generously volunteered for two or more days, the Mendon Foundation was able to meet the staffing requirement with 52 volunteers. Volunteers who joined the Mendon Foundation in this effort came from the Mendon Community Business Association, the Henrietta Foundation, Victor Hiking Trails, students from the local Robotics and Boy Scout groups, the bird walk, garden and trail maintenance groups who support the Mendon Foundation, individual friends of the Mendon Foundation and at least one golf fanatic who wanted to be part of the PGA Championship.
The Mendon Foundation was assigned to the 10th Fairway Market, a food tent, and shared the facility with Bishop Kearney. Although the hours were long, the work was easy and volunteers had a lot of fun getting to know each other and chatting with the spectators. Most of the work consisted of running the 24 checkout stations in the market.
When the rains came in the later part of the week and spectators piled into the tent, some of the checkout stands were moved to the front of the beer coolers to prevent theft. (There was some confusion over what was included in the all-inclusive spectator passes.) In that configuration, some of our volunteers became bartenders and the naturally outgoing ones had a great time.
The reward for all of this work was a two tier donation program for the charities from the Patina Restaurant Group subsidiary of Delaware North. Tier one was a flat daily amount if the charity reached its daily staffing goal. Tier two was 100% of the tips that ran through the checkout registers plus any cash handed to the volunteers. Under this system, the total donation for each charity was estimated in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.
For a tiny organization like the Mendon Foundation, a donation of this size is a huge boost. Besides providing a working capital safety net that we never had before, it allows the Mendon Foundation to move forward with projects on our six land trust properties and the Lehigh Valley Trail that have been minimized or delayed over the years.
We certainly must thank all the volunteers who contributed their time to make this possible. And we want to thank the folks who forwarded our volunteering requests through other organizations to support our recruiting efforts. Personally, I am humbled by the response to our requests for help. I thought we could reach the volunteer goal but was not 100% confident until we had about 2/3 of the work slots filled. At that point, we signed the necessary agreements and started training/onboarding our volunteers.
Finally, we need to thank Delaware North for creating a community impact program and reaching out to charities in the Rochester area, including those as small as the Mendon Foundation. They certainly have made an impact on the Mendon Foundation!