Author: Paul E. Doane, MSFAA President (1999-2000)
During my year as MSFAA President (January 1999 - January 2000) I had the opportunity to attend NASFAA’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV. On Sunday, July 14, 1999, prior to the start of the conference, NASFAA Staff and volunteers from college financial aid offices conducted a Carnival of Learning event for 4th to 6th grade students from Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Clubs at Bally’s Hotel. The carnival allows NASFAA members to reciprocate to the host city by providing a positive and enjoyable educational experience for local children. Its main goal was to make this children aware of the importance of postsecondary education and the financial resource that are available to assist them. Carnival activities included career activity centers, a backpack filled with education resources, a pizza party, a motivational speaker and fun games. I was one of the volunteers for the event and remember being impressed with the quality of the students I encountered. How could MSFAA members help meet needs of people like these in our communities back in Michigan, I wondered?
This encounter began the wheels turning and I hatched the idea of creating a Silent Auction event at the MSFAA winter conference in 2000 where a charity in one of our local communities would receive the proceeds from the event. The MSFAA Board endorsed the idea and the first Silent Auction was born. Initially, donations were solicited from schools and our vendor partners. The first Silent Auction raised $2500 to provide scholarships for black students in Grand Rapids through BEEP (Black Education Excellence Program). A representative from BEEP attended the conference and was presented with the check.
At the next MSFAA Board of Directors meeting it was decided to continue the auction and rotate the charity though the eight MSFAA regions that were organized geographically. This decision made it possible for charities throughout Michigan to benefit from the generosity of MSFAA members, our vendor partners and other individuals and organizations that donated items to the Silent Auction over the years.
The Silent Auction almost ended after the fifth year. I remember at a MSFAA Board Retreat several members questioning whether the Silent Auction had run its course and suggested that we needed to “pull the plug” on the event. Fortunately, I and others at the meeting were able to convince the board that the Silent Auction provided an opportunity for our members to reach into our communities in ways that were meaningful beyond the scope of the daily work we do in our profession. This resonated with enough board members to give the Silent Auction a new lease on life. And as they say, “the rest is history”!
In recent years, Foster Futures Scholarships through the State of Michigan has become the designated Silent Auction beneficiary. Donations have increased dramatically as scholarships to students aging out of foster care appear to resonate with MSFAA members. Since 2013, innovations to raising funds for our charities include “Change for Change” donations, $600 raised during a dueling pianos event during our 2016 Winter Conference, 50/50 auctions and an online auction of items not purchased during the Silent Auction during a two week period after the winter conference concluded. A big “thank you” to the many individuals in our organization (you know who you are) that put in the extra effort over the years to promote the Silent Auction to our membership. Your tireless work has not gone unnoticed!
During the last 18 years, the Silent Auction has raised over $63,000 to support charitable activity in the State of Michigan. In addition to BEEP and Fostering Future Scholarships mentioned earlier, the following groups have been supported through our giving:
- Capuchin Soup Kitchen (Detroit)
- Bay Cliff Health Camp (Marquette)
- Goodwill Inn Homeless Shelter (Traverse City)
- Food Bank of Michigan
- VFW National Home for Children (Eaton Rapids/Lansing)
- Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run (Kalamazoo)
- Corner Health Store (Ypsilanti)
- Society of St. Vincent DePaul (Marquette)
- Camp Quality Michigan (Boyne City)
- Hope Network (Grand Rapids)
- Community Compassion Network (Mt. Pleasant)
- NoBLE No Bullying Live Empowered Center (Oakland County)
- Education Project for Homeless Youth (Washtenaw County)
- Dial HELP (Upper Peninsula)
These organizations reflect the diverse interests of our association and its members. I trust that many more Michigan residents will benefit from the Silent Auction in the years to come.
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