Pleasant Day Holiday Benefit Gala a fun success

MD-Pleasant Day Buddy

Buddy Foxwell was the auctioneer, and he kept the pace and the humor level high.

CAMBRIDGE — Almost a week later, Jackie Vickers, executive director of Pleasant Day Adult Day Care Center, is still a touch giddy over the success of the 2015 Holiday Benefit Gala and the Festival of the Wreaths. And how does she measure this year’s incredible success? She says, “Start with everyone having fun. Guests and clients, volunteers too, everyone was laughing and having a good time.”

In fact, Jackie was the cause of the biggest laugh of the night. She introduced Tom Wilson, the new Pleasant Day Board president, and he told the crowd that he wasn’t dressed up because he dressed warmly to help people getting off the shuttle buses outside. Director Vickers said he needn’t apologize because he looked well in his work clothes “as well as out of them.” Two immediate reactions — a modest blush by Mr. Wilson and the crowd’s roar of laughter that almost knocked the wreaths off the walls.

So one way of measuring success is laughter, and throughout the evening there was plenty. Another measure of success is attendance, and more than 200 people made their way through the little sandwiches and the big shrimp (donated by our local restaurants and volunteers), while guitars and violins and voices played in the side rooms. Money is the easiest measure of success. More people mean more money raised in the silent auction of wreaths that line the corridors of Pleasant Day.

Mrs. Vickers marvels, “Every year, the variety and creativity of so many wreaths is a holiday miracle. Volunteer crafters work alone and no one repeats themes or materials. Every year a new crop of beautiful wreaths walks out the door after the silent auction. They all sell.” The wreaths were lovely, celebrating pinecones and ponies, ice skates and sleds, magnolias and music, crabs and a little Cambridge geography too. Speaking of money, a 50/50 raffle produced more than $500 for Pleasant Day, and the same amount for the lucky winner.

Community is another measure of success. The finale was the big live auction with a wide range of community donations from businesses, shops, and local wineries. It took 100 volunteers to solicit and organize the donations and one fabulous auctioneer to get them sold. Buddy Foxwell volunteers his time and talent to do a job that keeps even those who are outbid laughing.

Modestly he says “It’s the audience that makes the fun and laughter happen,” but don’t believe him. He is ridiculously funny with a leaning to muskrat stories, sensitive to bidders, teasing and joking and creating laughter, but he is also a highly skilled and trained auctioneer. What sounds like an auctioneer’s mumble is actually a chant that professional auctioneers learn in school, but the experienced and gifted practitioner elides it into a fast and rhythmic, highly personal sound that keeps the items moving out and the money coming in.

Keith Conkle, a local account executive said, “This is my first time here, but this auctioneer is worth the price of admission.” Well actually, there is no price of admission but Mr. Conkle was shelling out money for some very select items. The Banner’s Sylvia Windsor also was a lively bidder and in one of her prizes, she got a gift card for donuts. She’s been a faithful participant at Maryland Healthy Weighs and can’t eat them, but she has friends — and I count myself as one of them.

The happiness and laughter, the money raised, the donations of goods and time, what’s it all for? For the trips and dinners and programs that will be made possible for the adults who are the clients of Pleasant Day. They are people who range in age from their 30s to 100, who despite diabetes and strokes and even dementia, can remain in their own homes because of the medical care, meals and companionship they get at Pleasant Day. This was the 16th Holiday Benefit Gala and Jackie Vickers and the volunteers and staff can bask in their success, no matter how it’s measured.

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