Face-ing Farewell

This week will be my last as a volunteer/intern at About Face. I am so glad and proud that I have had the chance to work at such an amazing little non-profit. I’ve had several different jobs since I was 15 years old and have learned a lot about what it takes to make a company succeed, but I honestly think that volunteering in this office, working side by side with the key players of this company, have taught me much more than I have ever learned in my previous jobs.

 I realize that it takes passion, ingenuity and a lot of perseverance to make a non-profit theater company a success. The people at About Face work hard—and definitely do overtime as well. I can tell that the people I work with are passionate about the mission of AFT as well; which is to reach out to as many people as possible to promote dialogue about LGBTG issues.

When I go into the office tomorrow for the last time I will be working on thank you letters to send out to vendors from Wonka Ball and also to the wonderful people who attended the event. I am very thankful to About Face because it has given me a chance to work for a cause that I am passionate about and also experience the process of creating a truly exceptional, large-scale event.

For the rest of my life I know I will always carry with me a special place in my heart for the LGBTQ community. Yes, I’ve always supported it—but from working at About Face I have experienced a more in-depth and personal view into this world, making me feel closer to it than ever before. I look forward to keeping in touch with AFT and going to see some of its future performances. The Youth Theatre’s “WHAT’S THE T” is coming up and I know I will try to see that because I am so excited about everything the Youth have been working on for the past few months.

I will miss you, About Face!!!

Check out the upcoming 2012-2013 season for About Face Theatre!

Wonka Ball: A Night to Remember

 This past Friday, March 30th, was Wonka Ball. The night was a truly fabulous affair and the guests really enjoyed themselves. At 7 pm sharp the VIPs swarmed in to get first dibs on silent auction bids. The open bar, in keeping with the prom theme served a delicious spiked punch while caterers walked around the room serving decadent hors devours. The lighting was perfect, the rainbow-colored balloons where floating in the air, and the night was overall very magical and a great success.

Rewind to before 7 pm though and you would know why. Tons of people were milling around the venue since 9 am prepping for the event. We all had our jobs and I must say everyone did beautifully. Teamwork had a big hand in preparing for Wonka, as it always does when it comes to things that are truly important.

The best part was around 6:45 when all of the employees and volunteers had to stop running around and change for the event. Everyone’s personalities shined when they unveiled their special prom outfits. Wonka Ball raised a lot of money for About Face, but it was also a fun and memorable night for all. Some of the highlights included:

Live and Silent Auctions

Actors who walked around and dressed up as straight and queer prom couples

Prom photo booth

Open bar!

Food and deserts from some of Chicago’s best restaurants

Appearance by DiDa Ritz!

Great music and dancing

DiDa Ritz on stage at Wonka Ball

Get Excited!

 Donations, donations, donations! Silent Auction donations for Wonka Ball have been endlessly streaming into the office these past few weeks. Because of this, as an intern at About Face, all I have been doing pretty much has been checking in these items and organizing the master spread sheet that keeps track of all of them. The items that will be going up for auction are all completely awesome and range anywhere from gift certificates from a swanky restaurant, to exclusive spa treatments, to original paintings by local Chicago artists.

Another exciting thing that happened last week was that after totaling up all the values of these items we realized that we’ve already reached our budget goal for the auction. Yay! This means if the guests bid on all of the items then there is a good chance that About Face will be receiving a lot of money that will eventually go towards continuing to be able accomplish all of the great things that it does.

One more week until Wonka Ball and the work is piling up, but all that really means is that it will be that much sweeter the night of the event and thereafter for About Face and the community it serves.

About Face Youth Theatre

So this week I want to take a break from Wonka and the goings-on of planning the event to something that I have mentioned about About Face but have not really touched upon yet. The About Face Youth Theatre and its workshops are in integral part of the company and its mission in providing the community with quality programs to support LGBTQ issues.

The Youth Theatre is the branch of About Face that gives a voice to the young people of the LGBTQ community. All the youth in the program are closely involved in both the development and performances that the theatre puts on. Not only though does it give these kids a way to express themselves with rigorous artistic training, it provides automatic mentors and adults for them to look up to as the theatre is run by professional LGBTQ artists and activists. It also gives the kids college mentorship as well which is really cool!

What is probably most impressive though is that the program reaches out beyond the Chicagoland area and has traveled the nation speaking to tens of thousands of young people since 1999 about the modern issues that LGBTQ youth face every day.

Every once in a while I overhear our artistic director and her interns as they discuss and plan out the Youth Theatre’s next performance. It seems very promising as I think it involves the youth acting out real-life experiences that they have encountered growing up as LGBTQ in today’s society. I am very excited about this show and proud to be part of something that is doing something like this.

The long road is ending soon…

The invitations have officially been sent out for Wonka Ball 2012! However, this doesn’t mean the work is over just yet. My supervisor and I are now taking in calls and emails from people who want to buy their tickets. The silent auction portion of the night is also still a big thing on everyone’s mind in the office. We are not quite even at the half-way point with our budget of how much we are hoping to receive to be donated. The silent auction is the biggest fundraising-generator of the night so it is important that we get a lot of donations. The great thing is, though, that many items have been promised so all that needs to be done is the follow-up phone calls and emails reminding those people that they committed to donating something.

Another project I am working on is gathering volunteers for the actual night of the event. We will need people to help set up the venue, man tables and make sure that the over-all flow of the night is intact. I am so excited to get the chance to actually attend Wonka Ball and witness what everyone has been working on planning for the past five months! I will be there all day, Friday March 30th, helping set things up and then guiding the volunteers during the actual event.

It is now an official countdown to Wonka Ball as it is only a month away. For the next few weeks I will be organizing silent auction information and materials and taking in ticket orders from attendees. I could not be more excited for the weeks ahead and for March 30th so I can experience everything we’ve all been working towards for so long!

For more info about Wonka Ball and how to purchase tickets click here!

It’s About Passion

The past two weeks at About Face I’ve done a lot of work outside the office and /or outside the normal times that I go there. Although, working at a nonprofit, this type of work is not uncommon and—as I’m learning—totally expected and necessary. To work at a nonprofit and be successful and profitable you are always going the extra mile. This often involves stepping outside the box in order get things done that other companies can just hire someone to do. So why does anyone do this then? The reason is because they have passion—passion about their company’s particular mission and what it has to offer to the world. I can see this passion in the people that I work for everyday at About Face. They truly believe in what they are working towards.

The tasks that I’ve had to complete these past few weeks have not only been calling vendors and restaurant owners to follow up with them about donating to Wonka Ball, but also visiting some of these places to speak with them face to face. After weeks of contacting several paper suppliers to see who can give us the best deal on invitations and envelopes we finally got the pleasure to actually hold in our hands the fruits of our labors as many us spent Friday afternoon (and Saturday and Sunday) stuffing the invitations and licking those envelopes.

My point is that when it comes to working for a certain cause the best results are gained from having the passion to actually carry out the tasks necessary to achieve the goals. I think About Face is such a success and has made the differences that it has made because the people who work there have the drive and the passion because they believe so emphatically in what they are doing.

The save the date for Wonka Ball 2012

About Face: So What’s It All About?

About Face Theatre is a professional Chicago theatre company that explores gender and sexual identity in their work. Their “work” includes a full main-stage season of performances that explore themes that promote dialogue about the issues surrounding the LGBTQ community at large. They also have their About Face Youth Theatre that works with LGBTQ youth ages 14 to 23 to help promote change in their communities.

In my quest for a site to conduct my volunteer work for my service learning class I had multiple organizations to choose from and About Face was one of them. From the beginning though I was drawn to this theatre company and the values and messages that it represents. I have never understood why some people cast gays and lesbians as different from everybody else. I continued throughout my youth and young adulthood to have these thoughts which eventually turned into major concerns as I continued to see horrid examples of close-mindedness concerning this issue in my society and government. I have always spoken out to friends and strangers alike about my opinions on the rights of the LGBTQ community but now I get to enjoy an actual hands-on experience in making a difference with this cause that I am truly passionate about.

LGBT youth work on a project for About Face Youth Theatre

In truth, my role at About Face is as an intern assisting in the planning of the company’s annual big fundraising event. However, I still think that I play a part–if not a small one–in the task of  promoting awareness of LGBTQ rights and issues.

I have been working at About Face for about a month now and have enjoyed every minute thus far. I am the only straight person that I know of in the office which I think is great for me because as a white, middle-class female I have never really experienced being the minority before.

The event that I am helping to plan is called Wonka Ball and it is held every year by About Face and raises thousands of dollars for the non-profit company. This year the theme is Prom! (The Remix). Every year about 600 attendees flock to this fabulous event that was named one of the top events in Chicago on BizBash.com

Keep checking my blog for updates and insights on About Face and its 2012 Wonka Ball!