This was my second year for attending the Transportation Club of Tacoma annual Holiday Auction benefiting the Emergency Food Network. The first time, as a fairly new member I knew very little about TCT, but really enjoyed the quality of the programs at each meeting. Since then I've brought in several new members to the club and took over the position of newsletter editor.
What's great about the Transportation Club is that it not only fights for transportation issues (think import and export plus product delivery), but also its commitment to community with scholarships and local causes like hunger and shelter. This gives me a warm glow, especially at holiday time. I love relationships and connections.
Mel West of Prosperity Logic joined about the same time I did, He's also a member of the Tacoma Executives Association and will follow in my footsteps as president in July of 2015. Tacoma Execs is a leads organization now in its 97th year. While the Transportation Club has a focus on local issues and industry, Execs has a focus on business.
The Holiday Auction combines business with community involvement. There were about thirty-five to forty silent auction items and seventeen live auction items for our TCT December meeting at the Tacoma Yacht Club. Members donated everything from Rainiers baseball tickets to a trip to Alaska on board a Totem Ocean Trailer Express ship.
At the meeting I saw Ian Collins sitting by himself, so I sat down next to him for a quick chat. I had never met him, but I knew he broke our membership record when he became our 506th member in 2014.
Ian is the president of Premier Transport. Currently we now have 514 members, but could finish out this year with several more to give us something to really shoot for in 2015.
There is no attendance requirement, we only meet once a month and we don't meet at all in July and August. The dues are extremely low and we always have excellent programs. It's a great organization.
I was joined at my table by Merrit Hoeh, the volunteer coordinator from EFN. We talked and I introduced her to a number of passing friends.
I have a soft spot in my heart for food banks. The first executive director of EFN was my buddy Dennis Flannigan. Dennis is one of the best examples of community dedication that I know of. I worship him, but don't tell him I said that.
As I laughed and enjoyed my conversation with Merrit, I asked "Could you take a donation right now?" I had brought along a beautiful silver, amethyst and Australian opal ring to give to the auction if more prizes were needed. They weren't. I pulled out the black velvet box and said, "This might make us engaged, but you're welcome to the ring if EFN can use it." I purchased the ring for my wife, but was sent the wrong size.
EFN was originally formed by a collective involving FISH Food Banks, Tacoma Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and Associated Ministries. All great organizations. But FISH remains close to me because of the current board president and vice president. Vice President Mike Mowat was the driving force of the mobile food bank. President Debra Irwin of immedia like Mike is a long time friend. Her husband Donn and I met in Rotary and Donn and I joined TCT at the same time.
Mike and his wife, Jan, along with Debra and Donn join my wife Peggy and I for dinner almost every Friday evening . . . and sometimes Sunday for breakfast. Several years ago we all traveled to Italy and Spain together where we ate and enjoyed ourselves. Food is an important connection.
Last year's auction raised over $24,000. EFN has the ability to make each dollar do the work of twelve, so with the multiplier affect, the auction helps so many people. I hope this year we will raise even more.
I don't remember what we ate last year, but this year we had an excellent steak lunch with berry cheesecake for dessert. I left the meeting at 1:00 PM, which somehow just happened to be when I finished my cheesecake. The last thing I did was give Mary my raffle tickets as I left. I told her I always feel like I'm going to win. A couple of hours later Merrit called for detailed information about the donation AND to ask what we wanted to do with the bird feeder I had won. I just laughed . . . and donated it back to EFN.