By Jim Collins



My sincere thanks to everyone who helped with our November 5 banquet. My sincere apologies if I forget to mention anyone who helped.


A few months ago I had this crazy idea to put on a fundraising (pledge) banquet for MVP. When I described it to the MVP Board, they were enthused, so I went to work. First, I visited my contacts at A Woman’s Friend, a Right to Life organization in Yuba City which has been holding pledge banquets for many years. The Director of Development, Vivian Charlson-Hoffart, spent several hours with my wife, Barbara, and me sharing all the secrets to putting on a pledge banquet. With a treasure of helpful hints we returned to Sacramento excited about our prospects.


First on the agenda was to find a keynote speaker, a hall, a caterer, and a media company (sound and video). Frank and Monica were sure that Bishop Richard Garcia would be our keynote speaker. Sure enough, he agreed. I made a short drive from MVP to St. Rose where I spoke to Monsignor Kavanagh. Sure enough, the Kavanagh Hall was available (free for MVP) on November 5. A few days later my wife and I observed Hannibal’s Catering at a special dinner for Bishop Soto. They had wonderful food and service, so we decided to give them a try. Sure enough, they were available of November 5. We had also checked out the sound and video company, ATV Video, at the banquet. They put on a tremendous show, so I gave them a call. Sure enough, they were also available. All these “sure enough’s” seemed too providential to ignore even though we had so little time to put the Banquet together.


Now all we had to do was sell tickets and fill the hall. We decided to mail invitations to everyone on the mailing list and to follow up with phone calls. Five Star Services helped cut costs by covering printing and mailing costs and having Rachellee Evans design all invitations, tickets, banners, etc. from the samples I gave her. Once the mailing went out, we realized that it did not include phone numbers. I spent hours looking up whatever phone numbers I could find then shared the new list with the Board and friends of MVP. With very few responses from our mass mailing, we faced a major hurdle. It looked to me that we would be lucky to sell 100-150 tickets. But our ticket sellers were not deterred. Thomas Borge promised to move 70 tickets. Then Rico Rivera committed to sell 20-30. Steve and Fran took the challenge to sell 20. Barbara and I knew we could sell 20-30. Sara Wildermuth sold a bunch to friends in Elk Grove. John Platt decided to pay for the Christian Brothers MVP students’ dinners. Marty Haley sponsored a table. Then Frank and Monica, Caroline Samson, Elaine Putney, Joyce Heintz, and Becky Landeros sprung into action. Miraculously, by Banquet time we had sold nearly 230 tickets.



Meanwhile, we had a program to put together. I sent Bishop Garcia some guidelines for his speech. Laura agreed to coach Osvaldo Saavedra, Amy Velasco, Jose Sepulveda, and Beto Valenzuela to give testimonials. She also agreed to work with Caroline Samson to put together an MVP choir. Steve Wise convinced Bob Dunning of Catholic Radio to be the MC.


Frank and Monica prepared speeches. And Thomas agreed to give an introductory speech, to award door prizes, and to make the appeal for pledges.




Still, we needed someone to take care of decorations and to supervise our Christian Brothers servers. Martha Herrera came to the rescue. With a very small budget she put together a crew to cut and sew cloth tablecloths and napkins and to make napkin holders. She found someone to donate dishes and silverware. She worked with Laura to find pictures of students to serve as centerpieces. By Banquet time she had everything prepared.


Now it was show time. I arrived Friday morning to set up tables. By the time Martha and her crew arrived I had the tables arranged to seat various groups. MVP students put out plates, silverware, napkins, programs, brochures, pens, and name tags. They also helped me put up banners. Martin, the hall supervisor, moved the piano in place. ATV Video (Grant) set up the stage, podium, speakers, screen, sound system and projector. I gave Grant the Power Point that Frank and Monica’s daughter, Maria, had put together along with some Christian instrumental CDs.


An hour before the program, Angie Murray arrived to take over the will call table. Board Members and MVP students prepared to greet guests and to guide them to their tables. Martha met with the Christian Brothers servers for final instructions, set up stations for water, soda, and coffee.

Caroline gathered the younger MVP students in a classroom preparing them for their choir performance.

 Christian Marshall arrived to take pictures. Her husband, Paul, volunteered to be our run my video camera—an answer to a prayer.




Around 6:00 Bishop Garcia called to say his plane would be late. At 6:30 neither he nor our special guest, Bishop Soto, had arrived. But the show must go on.

Bob Dunning introduced me to give the opening invocation. Just as I finished, Bishop Soto arrived and mixed with out guests. Soon after, Bishop Garcia arrived. Martha and her crew served the Bishops’ table while our guests lined up for the buffet. Becky Landeros and Martha’s crew worked ceaselessly behind the scenes in the kitchen. Meanwhile, we were making last minute changes in the script. Bob Dunning did a great job moving Bishop Garcia’s talk earlier in the program followed by the MVP Choir and Testimonials. The Bishop’s keynote speech was a hit. Caroline led the MVP choir accompanied on the piano by Freda Revizza.



Osvaldo had the audience in tears.


Then Amy, Jose, and, and Juan Farias (who filled in at the last minute for Beto)

 gave moving testimonials about their lives before and after MVP.



When Thomas took over for the door prize raffle he hardly showed any anxiety that his wife, Leah, was due to give birth at any time (Victoria Evelyn arrived on November 10). His appeal for pledges had our guests reaching for pens and pledge cards. When it was time for the final invocation, both Bishops were gone, called to other duties. I led our guests in prayer to thank the Lord Jesus for a great Banquet.


Our MVP banquet was a miracle from beginning to end. We prayed and worked hard together. It shows what is possible when the MVP team comes together. The Good Lord blessed MVP with pledges for nearly $20,000.  Deo Gratias. Thank you all.



Next: Phoenix Reunion


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