Another open house is done and this one had a very weird outcome. It truly reminded me that success is measured in so many different ways. This was perhaps the most organized we've ever been and everything went very smoothly. Not that the others weren't organized, it was just better this time. Financially, it didn't break records but still brought in more money than most of our others. The people that came stayed for longer periods of time and truly seemed to have a good time. Now here’s the weird part; for all that, we had record low number of people. This tells me that we have found a great formula for how to run our event; we just need to figure out a better way to get people there. Marketing is definitely not my forte, but I’m learning all the time and already have ideas for the next one.
The one thing that made the event such a success is the volunteers. I am truly fortunate to have some wonderful, very hard working people by my side. Having such great people that I can trust and that have been here long enough to understand what is going on made such a huge difference on my stress level. A friend of mine even commented on a picture that I was actually smiling on open house day. There were a couple points during the day where I started talking about the work everyone was doing and I felt myself getting choked up. The gratitude I have is overwhelming.As tired as I am after the event is over I really enjoy the days afterwards. Everything is clean at once, the yard is cleaned up, the animals are resting and I get a sense of pride over what we have done. I really wish that we had the facilities to offer something far more often than twice a year. Perhaps someday we will. The reality of it though is that I barely get a day of rest and it’s time to start thinking about the next event or fundraiser. In this business it never ends.
Some of my favorite moments this year were The Cold Water Challenge with Jennifer and Glenda. They each raised money to have ice cold water dumped on them. It was fun, especially in the heat. One of my youngest volunteers stepped up to the plate and offered to take an important couple around on a tour. He did a great job and I was very proud of him. We were also able to get Dakota, the bobcat, to do a few of his trained behaviors in front of guests. He was reluctant and nervous but the fact that he did them at all was a great moment for everyone that got to watch. At one point I went in to check on Ginger, the Fennec Fox, I was sitting down inside her enclosure trying to get her to come out of her house to see me. She would look at me and roll over but never came out. That is until her favorite volunteer came around. She bolted out of that house and rushed towards her. I knew exactly where I stood in her mind (haha). It was a wonderful moment though. My other favorite thing was having guest vendors, since our first years were just us. Scaly Adventures has now joined us a few times but this year we had a musician (SaxMan Entertainment) and Kona Ice. I love that we can now offer such diversity to our guests.