Wednesday, May 4, 2011

MPI's First Benefit Event!

This past Saturday, April 30, marked a momentous occasion in MPI’s history: we held our first benefit event on an MPI site in Quito!  The event, conceived and developed largely by Ashley over the past several months, took place at C’est La Vie, the Cajun style restaurant where we also celebrated Becky’s birthday and watched the BCS championship earlier this year.  Elva, Carlos, and the staff at C’est La Vie donated their space, normally closed on Saturday nights, time, and talents to help us realize the event.  As the very first major fundraising event at a Manna international site, it was a great success!

As part of Manna’s commitment to being an organization grounded long-term in its international sites, we wanted to reach out to potential supporters in and around el Valle de los Chillos.  About 20 guests attended the dinner and multipart presentation we held from 6:30-10:00pm, which included a raffle, an informational video, a slideshow covering Manna’s history in Ecuador, and a Manna trivia quiz.  We had a choice among three New Orleans inspired dinners with main courses of shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, and gumbo, preceded by a delicious house cocktail based around fresh strawberry and passionfruit juice and rum.  After a welcoming speech by Bibi, we showed a video outlining the history of MPI in Ecuador, followed by a trivia quiz on our current programs, the winners of which received MPI t-shirts.  Our raffle prizes consisted of gift certificates and items donated by restaurants and businesses around Quito.  Our slideshow played throughout the evening when the video and quiz weren’t on C’est La Vie’s central TV screen.

The scene at C'est La Vie
Bibi and Ashley making opening remarks
Friends of Manna!
Brock and Jack expertly tending the bar
Our guests watching the MPI history video
The benefit was an incredibly collaborative event for all of us program directors.  With Ashley coordinating everything and serving as the contact between MPI and C’est La Vie as well as all of the organizations who donated to our raffle, we all chipped in to make different aspects of the night happen: Brock and Jack collected photos and video footage and wrote the script for the video, Becky and I collected photos and put together the slideshow, Jack and I made and hosted the trivia quiz, Zoë and Luke spearheaded decorations, Hannah made the invitations, Sam and Luke created the program, and Luke created a fantastic stand on which to advertise the event outside of C’est La Vie on Saturday that we intend to use for future MPI events.  Before everyone left, Jack and I performed a brief set (Jack played the guitar and I sang).  Overall, it was a tiring but extremely rewarding night from which we not only gained significant monetary support but also exposed potential friends of Manna in Ecuador to what MPI truly does in the Valley and to our mission to remain in Ecuador over the long term, a goal that requires roots, both organizational and financial, in the site itself.
The welcoming table
Zoë's lovely centerpiece on each table
The menu, all food provided by C'est La Vie
Jack and Noel performing to end the night
We are extremely excited to have executed the first MPI benefit in what we hope to be an annual tradition here in the Quito area and a model for similar events at our other international sites in Nicaragua and Guatemala.  It’s a big step toward the sustainability of Manna in Ecuador and raising our visibility – thus extending our reach and effectiveness – at this site.  Hopefully next year will be twice as successful!

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